A few years ago a distinguished seismologist, Clarence Allen of the California Institute of Technology, came up with a startling idea himself when he told an earthquake conference that it might be possible to release energy from fault zones one limited piece at a time instead of just waiting for the big one.
Faults need water to move. So, Allen suggested drilling three holes into a fault. Pump water into the middle hole, but suck it out of the two outer holes, thus lubricating a short section of the fault. The dry zones would, in theory, stop the quake from propagating further along the fault.
A nifty idea, but like so many of these ideas, it will never come to pass because of liability. What if one of the dry holes isn't dry enough and the quake just keeps on rumbling down the fault, destroying everything in its path?
Allen quipped that perhaps the idea could be tested in a country without any lawyers. Like so many great ideas, he said, it makes sense, but it's crazy.