Is there a way to predict earthquakes?

May 21, 2011

A team of NASA and Russian space and physical scientists, in the days before the March 11 Tohoku earthquake in Japan, said the atmosphere directly above the epicenter rapidly heated up possibly providing a way to predict earthquakes in the future. [CaliforniaWatch]

Beginning on March 3, the electron count in the ionosphere – the upper part of the atmosphere – increased dramatically reaching a peak three days before the 8.9-magnitude earthquake, according to a presentation delivered in Vienna.

“Our first results show that on March 8th a rapid increase of emitted infrared radiation was observed from the satellite data,” said Dimitar Ouzounov to California Watch.

Ouzounov and others believe movements and stress in the earth can set off a complex series of detectable physical and chemical changes in the atmosphere and ionosphere.

He said gases such as radon, carbon dioxide and hydrogen escape from the earth’s crust as the earth begins to move under the stress. The gases escape into the atmosphere and climb into the ionosphere. It’s in these upper areas that the gases ionize and begin to create heat.

And using satellite data and atmospheric monitors, researchers can see these changes as they happen providing a possible warning system.

Indeed, Ouzounov’s team has looked at 24 significant earthquakes in Japan, of a magnitude of 7 or greater, and all showed the telltale signs in the days before the quakes occurred.

That data will be released later this year, he added.


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3 Comments

  1. choprzrul says:

    Sounds like an interesting avenue of investigation to be pursued further.

    Wanna get really freaked out? Take a look at the quake map of our very own Parkfield & San Andreas Fault: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqscanv/FaultMaps/120-35.html

    Normally, Parkfied (earthquake capital of CA) has swarms of 1.0-2.0 micro quakes around it. It has been sitting there completely silent for 6 months now. “Research has shown that the Southern segment, which stretches from Parkfield in Monterey County, California all the way down to the Salton Sea, is now capable of a Richter scale 8.1 earthquake. ” This is from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Andreas_Fault

    Makes me wonder why nothing of this is being mentioned in the news??? Parkfield is THE most studied fault in the entire world, but yet nothing is being said.

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    • r0y says:

      Yeah, but the significance of this story is the potential amount of lead-time prior to a quake. I mean, days?! That’s just “crazy-early” notice. I’m wondering if it was such an early indication, that it was over-looked in the past… I mean, we’ve had satellites capable of this for some time now.

      I’m still pretty stunned how early the warning system can potentially be, should all this pan out. I mean, we all heard about Japan’s high-tech tsunami warning system that gave them, what, minutes of warning?

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  2. r0y says:

    WOW! This is incredibly significant! I cannot wait to peruse the data once it is released. I wonder if there is a cut-off (i.e. Mag 7 or higher) for the increased electrons in the ionosphere… and could we look a bit lower in the Meso- or Stratospheres? Can this be measured by ground based instrumentation (lasers, radar, thermal imaging, etc).

    Just think, in 5 years or so from now John Lindsey can give us the weather forecast along with the earthquake forecast…

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