This experiment is a further continuation of the research done by Dr. Friedemann Freund, Robert Dahlgren, and Colin Williams in 2009. This pilot study using 1.2 GHz radar showed a 5% increase in radar reflectivity off a smooth gabbro surface that was manipulated in the experiment. The long-term goal is to determine whether changes in radar reflectivity presage earthquakes or volcanic activity. Before major tectonic activity stress and rising temperatures activate mobile electronic charge carriers in rocks deep in the Earth crust. The charge carriers, known as positive holes can diffuse out of the activation volume and spread through kilometers of rocks. Using changes in radar reflectivity to detect pre-earthquake signals and to monitor early signs of volcanic activity is the ultimate thrust of this experiment. Radar detection from space is much less subject to atmospheric interferences than thermal IR emission. This idea, if successfully demonstrated through laboratory and field experiments, will lay the foundation for further work to apply this concept to satellite missions. Our project has the potential of revolutionizing NASA’s Natural Disasters Plan and this country’s approach to national and global challenges posed by earthquakes and volcanoes.


Friedemann T. Freund

Lab site

SETI Institute



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/star/40


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