Could ozone from rocks warn us of impending quakes?November 18th, 2011 - 8:03 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, Nov 18 (IANS) Ozone gas emitted from fracturing rocks could warn us of impending earthquakes.
Researchers are looking for ways to accurately forecast quakes, focusing on seismic clues that, if detected, could serve as timely warnings.
Ozone is a natural gas, byproduct of electrical discharges into the air from several sources such as lightning or even rocks breaking under pressure, according to a research, the journal Applied Physics Letters reports.
Scientists at the lab of Raúl A. Baragiola, professor of engineering physics at the University of Virginia, set up experiments to measure ozone produced by crushing or drilling into different rocks, including granite, basalt, gneiss, rhyolite and quartz.
Different rocks produced different amounts of ozone with rhyolite producing the strongest ozone emission. Some time prior to an earthquake, pressures begin to build in underground faults.
These pressures fracture rocks, and presumably, would produce detectable ozone, according to a Virginia statement.
Researchers found that ozone was produced by fracturing rocks only in conditions containing oxygen atoms, such as air, carbon dioxide and pure oxygen molecules, indicating that it came from reactions in the gas.
It occurred to him that if fracturing rocks create ozone, then ozone detectors might be used as warning devices in the same way that animal behavioural changes might be indicators of seismic activity.
“Such an array, located away from areas with high levels of ground ozone, could be useful for giving early warning to earthquakes,” Baragoila said.
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Tags: applied physics letters, behavioural changes, byproduct, carbon dioxide, early warning, earthquakes, electrical discharges, engineering physics, fracture, journal applied physics, journal applied physics letters, oxygen atoms, oxygen molecules, ozone emission, ozone gas, quakes, rhyolite, seismic activity, timely warnings, university of virginia