Location of future seismic events — earthquakes and volcanoes — define underground deposits of quartz, so their location can help to predict the time and the strength of future earthquakes, the American Geophysics. Water molecules included in the crystal lattice of quartz, the interaction with the mantle evaporate, giving the rock brittleness and facilitating the movement of lithospheric plates.
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Underground quartz deposits worldwide may be a determining factor in the occurrence of earthquakes, the formation of mountain terrain and other tectonic processes, a study published in the journal Nature.
Prospective application of this discovery to predict earthquakes is especially important in light of the tragedy in Japan
Note, however, that Nature does not arrive just in time for the publication of subjects. As a general rule (exceptions are only any particularly revolutionary research requiring immediate disclosure), articles are accepted and scheduled for publication in advance of the journal editorial plan painted a month ahead. Thus, an article on the role of quartz (the most common material — silica sand) in tectonic processes under consideration by the editorial 7 October 2010 and was accepted for publication February 10, 2011.
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The study led by geophysicist Anthony Lowry of Utah State University, it was also attended by experts from the University of London. Opening tipped future resolution eternal mysteries of tectonic processes, which, we recall, are responsible not only for earthquakes, but also for the formation of the outlines of continents and islands, the occurrence of mountain ridges and ocean basins, seas and plains.
"Of course, the question of why the mountains are where they are, interested people since the beginning of time,"
— Lowry said in an interview with Reuters.
Lowry and his colleagues studied the temperature and gravitational characteristics of soils along the western border of the United States — a seismically active Cordillera mountain region. Mobile seismic laboratory, which they have used and helped create a detailed map of the geological properties of the earth's crust in this region. Scientists have discovered that quartz crystal deposits are always accompanied by mountain ridges or fault lines in California, Idaho, Nevada and Utah.
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To confirm their assumptions, the researchers compared the localization of deposits of quartz with documented geological events in the region. The coincidence was "absolutely stunning."
Geophysics suggest that deposits of quartz show brittle crust areas where emerging geological event — an earthquake or volcanic eruption.
In addition, deposits of quartz and may be responsible for the movement of the continents, known as "continental drift", and for some movement of lithospheric plates.
For example, a strong earthquake that occurred last week in Japan, moved the island by about 2.4 meters closer to the United States.
Fragility "quartz" crust because it contains a significant amount of water that evaporates when heated upper layer of the mantle. Breed loses strength, its layers are moving, and there is a seismic event.
Lowry called it the "cycle of viscosity."
Modern seismically active regions — Japan, South California, Yellowstone National Park in the United States — are in the active phase of the "cycle of viscosity." The "old" mountains — the Appalachians in the eastern U.S. or Russian Urals — are in the inactive phase.
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Geophysics hoping to learn to assess the likelihood and effect of seismic events in uncertain "risk areas"
such as Arkansas, recently were completely geologically inactive. Another example — the New Madrid geological fault near St. Louis (Missouri). In 1812, it produced an earthquake of such force that it turned the tide of the Mississippi, but since then the seismic events in this region have been reported.
"Now we are moving to the touch around the elephant. We collect more and more pieces of the mosaic, but I hope that our discovery will be a key to understanding the full picture, "- said Lowry.
Now his research group is the second large-scale study in the U.S., near the New Madrid fault, designed to verify the correctness of the theory put forward. Later, a separate study is planned in the region of Appalachia.