Search for atmospheric and ionospheric precursors of earthquakes

In the last decades luminous effects and anamalous variations of the electric field in Earth's atmosphere were observed before earthquakes. The variations in the electric field are caused by separation of charges in clouds of charged particulate material (of water and dust) due to gravity - analog to the formation of electric fields during thunderstorms in clouds of water. A few days before and after an earthquake an additional ionization of the atmosphere appears due to radon emanation. The number of charged particles increases and tessellate distributed electric fields and luminous effects are frequently observed.

However the luminous effects can not be used as precursors of earthquakes. According to research results of Papadoupolos (1999) luminous effects were only observed at 5% of all strong earthquakes of magnitudes M>6 during the last 2000 years. These effects, or "fires", appeared 5-6 days before the seismic shock arises. Although the anamalous electric fields are to weak to emit visible light, it should be possible that the fields could excite pulses of non-equilibrium infrared emissions. The heating of the emitting atmosphere seems to be less than the sensitivity of the detectory which has been used yet. That means near the epicenter of emerging earthquakes tessellate distributed non-equilibrium infrared sources could exist. Due to the upper flow of airmass these sources should appear in an altitude of 10-15 km, like the rarely observable luminous effects. But nobody has ever tried to meassure and analyse the spectrum of non-equilibrium infrared emissions in the atmosphere before earthquakes. This could be a further possibility to forecast earthquakes.

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Technische Universität Darmstadt

Dr. habil. Claudia-Veronika Meister

+49 6151 16-2920
+49 6151 16-4321

Institut für Kernphysik

S2|14 117
Schlossgartenstraße 9
64289 Darmstadt

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