Reading the signs

By Archita Bhatta
Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

Earthquake study centres to be linked for integrated analysis

THE Chinese claim to predict earthquakes by observing animal behaviour and phenomenon such as sudden disappearance of water from lakes and wells. Scientists around the world have tried to do the same by studying parameters like changes in seismic activity and electromagnetic radiations and checking water bodies for increase in radon gas (a radioactive element) levels. These give indications of an imminent earthquake but do not help accurately predict the place and time of occurrence.

The Indian Meteorological Department ( imd) will now collectively analyse these parameters, studied at several places, to increase accuracy in earthquake prediction. It has submitted a proposal to the ministry of earth sciences to link all its centres and set up an integrated and centralized monitoring system."Individual centres are studying different parameters but these need to be studied together," said R S Dattarayam, director of seismology at the earthquake monitoring centre, imd.

Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, and Agra University have been studying radon levels in the groundwater and electromagnetic variations. The Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology in Dehradun has been monitoring nine parameters since 2007 and the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism, Mumbai, has been monitoring six in Shillong and Port Blair. But these studies are happening in isolation. A central monitoring system will help scientists analyse data from all these centres, said Dattarayam. The imd will monitor 12 parameters in all, he added.

B R Arora, director of Wadia Institute, explained earthquakes have a ripple effect on vast areas that move out in concentric circles from the epicentre. Hence, data from several stations need to be monitored together. Many a time, factors such as electromagnetic radiations, are disturbed by external influences like solar radiations. This can be ascertained by looking at global data on solar radiation. If the electromagnetic radiation disturbance is not caused by solar radiation or any other electromagnetic field, it could be an earthquake indicator. But this indicator would have to be reinforced by other indicators for accurate prediction.

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