Ionospheric transients observed at mid-latitudes prior to earthquake activity in Central Italy
Abstract. Ionograms from Rome (41.8N, 12.5E) and Sofia (42.4N, 23.2E) ionospheric stations during earthquake (EQ) activity with magnitude (M) between 5 and 6 in Central Italy are analyzed. It is found that several ionospheric disturbances occur in the intermediate E-F region before the EQ shock. In fact, besides sporadic E (Es) layer development (of type h) of short duration (transients), fmin increase, trace gaps near the critical frequencies, and E region trace disappearance are also observed within one to three hours before the EQ shock. Before the EQ shocks we find that the F2 region parameters are practically undisturbed. The only exception is the so-called fork trace that appears mostly near the critical frequency of the F2 region. Acoustic gravity waves (AGW) are suggested as one of the possible sources of transients observed in the ionosphere before the EQ shock.