Articles | Volume 9, issue 6
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 9, 1953–1971, 2009

Special issue: Ground and satellite based observations during the time of...

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 9, 1953–1971, 2009

  25 Nov 2009

25 Nov 2009

Unfolding the procedure of characterizing recorded ultra low frequency, kHZ and MHz electromagetic anomalies prior to the L'Aquila earthquake as pre-seismic ones – Part 1

K. Eftaxias1, L. Athanasopoulou1, G. Balasis2, M. Kalimeri1, S. Nikolopoulos3, Y. Contoyiannis1, J. Kopanas1, G. Antonopoulos1, and C. Nomicos4 K. Eftaxias et al.
  • 1Section of Solid State Physics, Department of Physics, Univ. of Athens, Panepistimiopolis, Zografos, 15784, Athens, Greece
  • 2Institute for Space Applications and Remote Sensing, National Observatory of Athens, Metaxa and Vas. Pavlou, Penteli, 15236, Athens, Greece
  • 3Centre de Recherchede l'ICM, INSERM UMRS 975 – CNRS UMR 7225, Hopital de la Pitie-Salpetriere, Paris, France
  • 4Department of Electronics, Technological Educational Institute of Athens, Ag. Spyridonos, Egaleo, 12210, Athens, Greece

Abstract. Ultra low frequency, kHz and MHz electromagnetic (EM) anomalies were recorded prior to the L'Aquila catastrophic earthquake that occurred on 6 April 2009. The main aims of this paper are threefold: (i) suggest a procedure for the designation of detected EM anomalies as seismogenic ones. We do not expect to be able to provide a succinct and solid definition of a pre-seismic EM emission. Instead, we aim, through a multidisciplinary analysis, to provide the elements of a definition. (ii) Link the detected MHz and kHz EM anomalies with equivalent last stages of the earthquake preparation process. (iii) Put forward physically meaningful arguments for quantifying the time to global failure and the identification of distinguishing features beyond which the evolution towards global failure becomes irreversible. We emphasize that we try to specify not only whether a single EM anomaly is pre-seismic in itself, but also whether a combination of kHz, MHz, and ULF EM anomalies can be characterized as pre-seismic. The entire procedure unfolds in two consecutive parts. Here in Part 1 we focus on the detected kHz EM anomaly, which play a crucial role in our approach to these challenges. We try to discriminate clearly this anomaly from background noise. For this purpose, we analyze the data successively in terms of various concepts of entropy and information theory including, Shannon n-block entropy, conditional entropy, entropy of the source, Kolmogorov-Sinai entropy, T-entropy, approximate entropy, fractal spectral analysis, R/S analysis and detrended fluctuation analysis. We argue that this analysis reliably distinguishes the candidate kHz EM precursor from the noise: the launch of anomalies from the normal state is combined by a simultaneous appearance of a significantly higher level of organization, and persistency. This finding indicates that the process in which the anomalies are rooted is governed by a positive feedback mechanism. This mechanism induces a non-equilibrium process, i.e., a catastrophic event. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the two crucial signatures included in the kHz EM precursor are also hidden in other quite different, complex catastrophic events as predicted by the theory of complex systems. However, our view is that such an analysis by itself cannot establish a kHz EM anomaly as a precursor. It likely offers necessary but not sufficient criteria in order to recognize an anomaly as pre-seismic. In Part 2 we aim to provide sufficient criteria: the fracture process is characterized by fundamental universally valid scaling relationships which should be reflected in a real fracto-electromagnetic activity. Moreover, we aim to answer the following two key questions: (i) How can we link an individual EM precursor with a distinctive stage of the EQ preparation process; and (ii) How can we identify precursory symptoms in EM observations that indicate that the occurrence of the EQ is unavoidable.