Earthquake Warnings Could be Made Minutes Sooner with Gravity Signals

Tuesday, November 29, 2016 - 09:28

Researchers of California Institute of Technology reported that they have detected a signal faster than seismic wave, which could provide warning that an earthquake is on its way.

As Tech Times reports, a group of researchers has discovered that tiny shifts in gravity triggered by earthquakes could be detected before a quake causes damage.

In this study which has been published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers described a method that involves tracking the subtle changes in Earth's gravity that immediately occur after an initial rupture.

These tiny shifts could one day be picked up by a global network of early-warning systems for deadly earthquake hazards, such as tsunamis.

Current early-warning systems rely on detecting seismic waves, but these only appear once the earthquake has already begun. The researchers also found that the signal that hit the gravimeters arrived about nine seconds earlier than the seismic waves.

"The robust detection of transient gravity signals by a network of such instruments has the potential to reduce the time required to declare a warning, thus opening new directions in earthquake seismology, enabling faster earthquake magnitude estimation (which currently takes up to several minutes) and complementing earthquake early-warning systems currently based on seismic and geodetic networks," wrote Caltech seismologist Jean Paul Ampuero and colleagues in their study.

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