Accurate prediction of earthquakes is not currently possible, although intensive research is proceeding in many areas. Two types of earthquake prediction are theoretically possible. The first type is long-term forecasting, in which the probability of an earthquake along a particular segment of a within a certain time interval is calculated by studying seismic gaps and historical records of earthquakes that have occurred along that fault segment. By plotting the number of earthquakes within specific time intervals against their magnitudes, diagrams can be constructed for a local area. From this plot it is possible to determine the recurrence interval, or the average time interval between earthquakes of a specific magnitude. Predictions can then be made that an earthquake of that magnitude has a high probability of occurrence within a specified time interval, if the date of the last earthquake is known. Research leading to short-term forecasting, which involves a shorter time interval, has been focused on precursors observed prior to previous earthquakes. Precursors are physical or chemical phenomena that occur in a typical pattern before an earthquake. These phenomena include changes in the velocity of seismic waves, the electrical resistance of rocks, the frequency of the usually minor preliminary earthquakes (foreshocks), the deformation of the land surface, and the water level or water chemistry of wells in the area. Many of these precursors can be explained by a theory called the dilatancy model. Under this hypothesis, rocks in the process of strain along a fault show significant dilation or swelling before rupture. This volume increase is caused by the opening of microcracks, which are minute failure zones in weaker mineral grains in the rock and along grain boundaries. Groundwater flows into the highly stressed areas during the formation of microcracks. These changes in density and water content affect the ability of the rock to transmit seismic waves and conduct electricity. Therefore, seismic-wave velocity and electrical resistance progressively change as the overall rupture along the fault draws near. Localized changes in land-surface elevation are also related to volume changes at depth. An area of recent uplift along the San Andreas Fault near Los Angeles, which has been named the Palmdale Bulge, is being monitored in great detail as a possible indicator of a future earthquake. Volume changes and groundwater movement may be reflected by changes in water levels in wells and also by changes in the chemical composition of groundwater. Radon gas has been observed to increase in wells prior to earthquakes. These increases are perhaps related to the release of radon gas from rocks during the formation of microcracks. The pattern of seismic activity is also significant in the vicinity of a fault area where rupture is imminent. This pattern consists of an initial rise in the number of small events, followed by a decline in foreshocks just prior to the major earthquake. The decline may represent a temporary increase in rock strength before the newly formed microcracks are filled with water. The precursor phenomena can be grouped into stages according to the dilatancy model. Stage I consists of a gradual stress buildup along the fault. Stages II and III are correlated with dilatancy and water influx. Stage IV is the major earthquake, and stage V is the aftermath of the event. If every earthquake followed the sequence with uniform stage duration, earthquake prediction would be a simple matter. Instead of following the same patterns, each earthquake is unique in terms of specific precursor behavior patterns and length of precursor stages. A magnitude 6.9 North American earthquake in 1989 was preceded by a substantially smaller magnitude 5 earthquake fifteen months before the event. Another foreshock of similar size occurred two months before the event. In each case, a public advisory was issued stating that those smaller earthquakes could be foreshocks to a stronger earthquake within five days. However, the fault did not cooperate, and those predictions were not successful. Continued research and study of future earthquakes will certainly lead to refinement of the dilatancy model or to a replacement model with more accurate predictive capabilities.