A group of earthquake experts who studied a New Mexico climatologist's prediction of an increased chance for a major quake along the New Madrid Fault in December said Thursday the theory has no scientific basis.

The 12 scientists who prepared their report on the prediction for the National Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council gave their views on the projections by Iben Browning of Sandia Park, N.M., which have gained nationwide publicity in recent months.Browning said there is a 50-50 chance for an earthquake measuring at least 7.0 on the Richter scale somewhere along the New Madrid Fault, which runs through southeastern Missouri, on or about Dec. 2 or Dec. 3.

However, the scientists from the council, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Central United States Earthquake Consortium said they disagreed with Browning's prediction.

"Based on a detailed scientific evaluation of Dr. Browning's methodology, there is no scientific basis for concluding that there is a higher probability of a large earthquake on or about December 2nd or 3rd, or any other day in the next several years," said Robert Wesson, chief of the Office of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Engineering for the Geological Survey.

Browning's prediction has been heavily publicized in the Midwest.