New Tool May Predict Earthquake
Like most massiveearthquakes, experts say the one that hit China's Sichuan province in May, killing69,000 people, gave residents no time to evacuate.
According toexperts, the most modern earthquake detection systems now in use only detect quakesseconds before the event.
But seismologists,reporting this week in the journal Nature, are using sensitive tools near Parkfield,California on the San Andreas fault to detect minor changes in the earth'scrust prior to earthquakes.
They successfullyused the equipment hours preceding two earthquakes, one on Christmas 2005 and asmaller one five days later.
Lead authorFenglin Niu is a seismologist with Rice University in Houston, Texas.
Niuand colleaguesmade direct measurements leading up to the temblors by inserting sophisticatedelectrical probes one kilometer into the fault that detected the tinieststresses in rocks.
“We found these changes start about ten hoursbefore a magnitude three earthquake and two hours before a magnitude oneearthquake,” said Fenglin Niu.
The earthquake inChina was a magnitude 7.9 in intensity.
Seismologists nowwant to see if they can detect earthquakes with greater precision by inserting theirequipment 10 kilometers into the San Andreas fault.
Niu says they arefollowing up their experiments with seismologists in China and Japan.