Articles | Volume 15, issue 8
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 1873–1880, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-15-1873-2015
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 1873–1880, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-15-1873-2015

Research article 20 Aug 2015

Research article | 20 Aug 2015

Pre-earthquake magnetic pulses

J. Scoville1,2,3, J. Heraud4, and F. Freund1,2,3 J. Scoville et al.
  • 1San Jose State University, Dept. of Physics, San Jose, CA 95192-0106, USA
  • 2SETI Institute, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA
  • 3NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035, USA
  • 4Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Lima, Peru

Abstract. A semiconductor model of rocks is shown to describe unipolar magnetic pulses, a phenomenon that has been observed prior to earthquakes. These pulses are suspected to be generated deep in the Earth's crust, in and around the hypocentral volume, days or even weeks before earthquakes. Their extremely long wavelength allows them to pass through kilometers of rock. Interestingly, when the sources of these pulses are triangulated, the locations coincide with the epicenters of future earthquakes. We couple a drift-diffusion semiconductor model to a magnetic field in order to describe the electromagnetic effects associated with electrical currents flowing within rocks. The resulting system of equations is solved numerically and it is seen that a volume of rock may act as a diode that produces transient currents when it switches bias. These unidirectional currents are expected to produce transient unipolar magnetic pulses similar in form, amplitude, and duration to those observed before earthquakes, and this suggests that the pulses could be the result of geophysical semiconductor processes.

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Short summary
A semiconductor model of rocks is shown to describe unipolar magnetic pulses, a phenomenon that has been observed prior to earthquakes. These pulses are suspected to be generated deep in the Earth's crust, in and around the hypocentral volume, days or weeks before earthquakes. Their extremely long wavelength allows them to pass through kilometers of rock, and the source of the pulses may be triangulated to pinpoint locations where stresses are building deep within the Earth.
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