Geophysicists from Britain and China have developed a new methodology to seismic monitoring that could help forecast the time, size and sometimes even the location of earthquakes. The new method exploits a phenomenon called shear-wave splitting, in which seismic 'shear' waves traveling through rocks are split into two components, which vibrate parallel and perpendicular relative to microscopic cracks, according to a report published in the United States. The alignment of these microscopic cracks reflects the amount of stress in the Earth's crust. The more stress, the more the cracks are aligned, and the bigger the gap between the two waves' arrival.