updated 2/9/2004 11:37:04 AM ET 2004-02-09T16:37:04

A team of scientists credited with getting earlier earthquake predictions right now expects a 6.4 magnitude or larger temblor in the Southern California desert by Sept. 5, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Led by UCLA scientist Vladimir Keilis-Borok, the team has been predicting quakes within certain timeframes and geographic regions. That has led to criticism that their work is not precise enough to be useful, but others see it as significant progress in the science.

The team gained visibility last December, when a 6.5-magnitude quake hit near San Simeon, Calif. That's within the 310-mile stretch of California that the team last June predicted would see a quake of magnitude 6.4 or larger within nine months.

The Times reported Sunday that the team's predictions are based on perceived "chains" of small earthquakes that are comparable to past patterns preceding larger quakes in the same area.

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