New Clues Emerge from Earthquake Research

PALO ALTO, CA /Marketwire/ -- Immediately following the 6.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Tacna, Peru, on Wednesday, May 5, QuakeFinder scientists in Palo Alto, CA, began gathering valuable clues that could support their research efforts. QuakeFinder, a humanitarian R&D organization, is methodically developing and expanding an international network of electromagnetic sensors and collecting data to gain insight into what happens in the Earth's crust during the days and weeks leading to a seismic event.

Previously, QuakeFinder discovered a strange series of magnetic pulses, starting two weeks prior to the 2007 Alum Rock, CA, M5.4 earthquake. The sample was analyzed and the results were published in the Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences journal. QuakeFinder has been seeking other examples of these pre-earthquake signals and now has one with the new earthquake at Tacna.

QuakeFinder's rapidly expanding network has over 60 working sites in California and a growing roster of international collaborations. One such joint venture with the Catholic University in Lima Peru resulted in the installation of two ultra-low-frequency (ULF) magnetometer instruments in areas where Peruvian scientists were concerned that a large earthquake might occur in the next few years. One of the sites near Tacna is within 25 km of the May 5 earthquake.

The plan to collect ULF magnetic pulses that had been detected near strike-slip earthquakes (where the fracture is lateral) in the U.S. was also designed to determine whether the same phenomenon occurred near subduction earthquakes (where one tectonic plate slides under another). Data from this earthquake demonstrated both ULF magnetic pulses and increases in the air conductivity within 20–30 km of the epicenter are useful in determining the location, time, and magnitude of the earthquake. "This data continues to support our hypothesis that there may be a sequence of electromagnetic signals that occur around two weeks prior to large earthquakes, and this research holds life-saving significance," says Tom Bleier, head of QuakeFinder.

To confirm any findings, there must be an increase in the density of the network of sensors to allow the capture and analysis of more earthquake events to determine if the patterns are repeatable. In an innovative approach to the expansion of the network, QuakeFinder invites private individuals, businesses, and governments to sponsor or host sites. Anyone interested in becoming a host or sponsor can simply go to the QuakeFinder Web site to learn more about the research.

About QuakeFinder
QuakeFinder, the Humanitarian R&D division of Stellar Solutions, is located in Palo Alto, CA, and conducts pioneering research in the area of earthquake forecasting with the ultimate aim to develop, within the next decade, a global earthquake warning system.

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