There might be an APP for one that gives you more than a minutes warning thanks to scientists who have found some very interesting data from the days leading up to the March 11, 2011 9.0 Magnitude Tohoku earthquake that devastated the northeast coast of Japan.
While Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife is stating up front that this is preliminary data, Dimitar Ouzounov and other scientists at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland say that in the days leading up to the massive earthquake, the total electron content of the ionosphere increased dramatically over the epi-center, reaching a maximum three days before the quake struck.
They also noted that concurrent satellite viewing found a large increase in infrared emissions from above the epi-center, peaking in the hours just before the quake. That's what the photo image up here to the left represents.
Putting it all together, we know that the atmosphere over the earthquake's epicenter had heated up. The image representing March 11, 2011 shows it at its hottest on March 10, 2011... (but no actual time stamp is offered) - some hours before the quake.
That's the key... it peaks... ands then goes down.
It all backs up a theory called the Lithosphere-Atmosphere-Ionosphere Coupling model which says that in the days leading up to an earthquake (we'll assume a large earthquake considering there are tiny earthquakes globally every day), the great stresses in a fault where it is about to break or give way, cause the release of large amounts of radon.
|Mirror-image shot of nerdy writer and his cool shirt|
Back to the hard science. Apparently when the radon is released from the faults or during the process of a fault being under stress (I have also been known to release a gas while under stress), it ionizes the air above it.
What the hell does that mean? Well, water molecules are attracted to ionized air. This causes a large scale condensation of water vapor - It rains. A lot.
But wait... there's more. the actual molecular process of water vapor condensation releases energy in the form of heat. It is this heat that causes the infrared emissions
Cool! Or rather, 'That's hot!' Ugh. I quoted Paris Hilton in a science article where I am trying to sound smart! Failure.
Says Ouzounov: "Our first results show that on March 8, 2011, a rapid increase of emitted infrared radiation was observed from the satellite data."
The infrared radiation emissions affect the ionosphere and its total electron content.
Is this a way to predict earthquakes in the future? Hopefully. Especially if the electron count gives you a three-day window to duck and cover or stand in a door frame or whatever it is you are supposed to do when an earthquake hits.
It sure beats watching for changes in catfish activity (I think it's swimming - no wait... it's just floating there - treading water - no, it just ate something - no, it just spit it out... it's swimming again - it's the coming of the apocalypse!) or watching how animals suddenly go quiet moments before an earthquake hits.
Read THIS blog of mine for the facts behind the catfish, and HERE for another on the earthquake APP.
You people think I make this stuff up, don't you? Nope.
Anyhow... in case you are wondering how the heck any one is able to do an electron count, just know that over the past few years, scientists have set up atmospheric monitoring stations in earthquake zones, and are using more than a few triangulating satellites to send back data regarding the state of the upper atmosphere and the ionosphere before and during an earthquake.
Hopefully the scientists are able to use the hot atmosphere data to better predict the locale of earthquakes. Can it predict smaller ones - probably, but I suppose it depends on the sensitivity of the equipment observing the data.
The March 11, 2011 Tohoku earthquake was a 9.0 Magnitude one. It is the largest to have struck Japan in modern times, so gathering data from the next big earthquake could involve a very long waiting process.
Files by Andrew Joseph
FYI: the data in this blog was first presented back in May of 2011, meaning scientists were actually pretty quick in analyzing the data, unlike certain blogs. Ahem.