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Scientists announce possible breakthrough in earthquake prediction

A boy reads a newspaper at an evacuation shelter in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture the day after the Tohoku earthquake on Mar 12, 2011.

Photo: AFP
照片: 法新社

Scientists are constantly striving to perfect earthquake prediction. If it were possible to accurately indicate the time, location, scale and seismic intensity of an impending earthquake, suffering and damage could be reduced to an absolute minimum.

A Kyoto University research team, led by professor Ken Umeno, recently announced the results of its research into using ionospheric abnormalities. These abnormalities may enable the prediction of large earthquakes up to one hour before they strike.

The ionosphere is a layer of electrons spread out across the Earth’s upper atmosphere. It is influenced by the sun’s activity, including solar flares and charged particles within the solar wind, which may interact with the Earth’s magnetic field and lead to disturbances within the ionosphere.

The problem is that since the method for measuring electrons within the ionosphere is through dozens of GPS weather stations across the globe using real-time interrelated data. At the present, computer analysis consumes too much time. If instantaneous computer processing were possible, then it may be possible to successfully predict earthquakes.

Using the measurement technique employed by Ken’s research team, it is no longer necessary to compare numerical values taken both before and after an earthquake. Instead, the discrepancy from normal values is calculated so that abnormalities can be identified. Ken says, “It may be possible to use this [technique] within future earthquake warning systems.”

(Liberty Times, translated by Edward Jones)







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