August 1, 2011.
Much of the devastation and damage of earthquakes can be attributed to the fact that they occur suddenly and without much warning, which limits the ability of people to evacuate and/or properly prepare. One method, however, that might be used to predict seismic events is the generation of electric currents in rocks when stresses are applied. It is observed in this research that the application of direct force onto samples of igneous rock causes the rocks to generate a measurable current, which is attributed to positive-hole charges moving within the oxygen sub-lattice. Because large and changing forces are acted upon rocks at fault lines before and during earthquakes, the monitoring of rock currents could provide a tangible precursor to aid in predicting earthquake occurrences. In order for this method to be feasible, positive-hole currents must be able to travel from the source rock all the way to the surface of the Earth, which means traveling through water-saturated rocks contained in the Earth’s crust. If the positive-hole currents can in fact travel through water-impregnated rocks, then monitoring stations set up at the surface should be able to detect the stress-based current fluctuations.
Geophysics and Seismology | Other Physics | Physical Chemistry
Friedemann T Freund
This material is based upon work supported by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0952013. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation or the National Science Foundation.