Articles | Volume 1, issue 1/2
30 Jun 2001
 | 30 Jun 2001

Possible earthquake precursors revealed by LF radio signals

P. F. Biagi, R. Piccolo, A. Ermini, S. Martellucci, C. Bellecci, M. Hayakawa, V. Capozzi, and S. P. Kingsley

Abstract. Among radio signals, low frequency (LF) radio signals lie in the band between 30–300 kHz. Monitoring equipment with the ability to measure the electric strength of such signals at field sites, were designed and assembled in Italy. From 1993 onwards, the electric field strength of the MCO (216 kHz, France) broadcasting station has been collecting measurements at two sites in central Italy that were chosen according to very low noise levels. At the end of 1996, radio signals from the CLT (189 kHz, Italy) and CZE (270 kHz, Czech Republic) broadcasting stations were included in the measurements. Meteorological data from central Italy were also collected over the same time period in order to study the influence of weather conditions on the experimental measurements. During the monitoring period, we observed some evident attenuation of the electric field strength in some of the radio signals at some of the receivers. The duration of the attenuation observed was several days, so it could possibly be related to particular meteorological conditions. On the other hand, this phenomenon might represent precursors of moderate (3.0 < M < 3.5) earthquakes that occurred near the receivers (within 50 km) along the transmitter-receiver path. In this case, it is possible that the pre-seismic processes could have produced irregularities in the troposphere, such as ducts, reflecting layers and scattering zones, so that some local troposphere defocusing of the radio signals might have occurred. These observations were related only to moderate earthquakes and in these cases, suitable meteorological conditions were probably needed to observe the effect. Between February – March 1998, we observed at one measuring site, a significant increase in the CZE electric field strength. Unfortunately, we could not use the data of the other receiver in this case, due to frequent interruptions in the data set. The increase might have been a precursor of the strong seismic sequence (M = 5.0–6.0) that occurred during March – May 1998 in Slovenia at a location over 400 km from the receiver, but lying in the middle of the transmitter-receiver path. In this case, it is possible that an ionospheric disturbance, produced by the pre-seismic processes, might have occurred.