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The Global Earthquake Model is based on a sound foundation and deserves widespread support, says an editorial in Nature Geoscience.

The model — a collaborative open-source initiative set to launch in early 2009 — will enable countries to calculate the probability of an earthquake striking and the expected ground motion, allowing estimates of likely damage to life and property.

But its reliance on existing geological and geophysical data sets, which are extensive for some countries and more limited for others, means the model's effectiveness is only as good as its information, warns the editorial.

In addition, poorer countries, which are often the most vulnerable, may not have the capacity to act on the model's information. Still, it could raise awareness and help create a culture of preparedness in these regions.

And by cooperating with different stakeholders and making its tools freely available, the model is both just and democratic. It deserves the whole-hearted backing of scientists, governments and the private sector, says the editorial.

Link to full article in Nature Geoscience