Big earthquake in Tohoku affected upper atmosphere earlier than Earth

Big earthquake in Tohoku affected upper atmosphere earlier than Earth Natural Disasters

An earthquake of magnitude 9 struck March 11, 2011 on the coast of the Tohoku region in Japan, heralded the world's first integrated global disasters wrought disastrous tsunami, micro-earthquakes and tremors around the world.

Scientists have recently discovered that the earthquake was preceded by fluctuations in the ionosphere, the upper part of the atmosphere. Failures of electrically charged particles in the ionosphere caused by an abnormality in the radio signals between systems through global positioning satellite receivers and repeaters ground stations.

Geophysicist Kosuke Heki analyzed data from more than 1,000 of positioning systems in Japan and found that the electron content in the ionosphere above the epicenter increased by 8% in the 40 minutes before the earthquake. Data analysis of the earthquake in Chile, 8.8 in force in 2010 found similar abnormalities.

To date, the anomalies observed in the earthquake measuring more than 8.5. However, if scientists can figure out what causes the changes in the ionosphere, it is expected that this will predict and smaller earthquakes.

Clearly, further research could lead to a new type of early warning system in case of major earthquakes.

Photo: GeoEye / Digital Globe / MIRC / JHA / Google

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