Journal of Seismology

, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 1293–1314 | Cite as

Earthquake chemical precursors in groundwater: a review

  • Shukra Raj Paudel
  • Sushant Prasad Banjara
  • Amrita Wagle
  • Friedemann T. Freund


We review changes in groundwater chemistry as precursory signs for earthquakes. In particular, we discuss pH, total dissolved solids (TDS), electrical conductivity, and dissolved gases in relation to their significance for earthquake prediction or forecasting. These parameters are widely believed to vary in response to seismic and pre-seismic activity. However, the same parameters also vary in response to non-seismic processes. The inability to reliably distinguish between changes caused by seismic or pre-seismic activities from changes caused by non-seismic activities has impeded progress in earthquake science. Short-term earthquake prediction is unlikely to be achieved, however, by pH, TDS, electrical conductivity, and dissolved gas measurements alone. On the other hand, the production of free hydroxyl radicals (•OH), subsequent reactions such as formation of H2O2 and oxidation of As(III) to As(V) in groundwater, have distinctive precursory characteristics. This study deviates from the prevailing mechanical mantra. It addresses earthquake-related non-seismic mechanisms, but focused on the stress-induced electrification of rocks, the generation of positive hole charge carriers and their long-distance propagation through the rock column, plus on electrochemical processes at the rock-water interface.


Earthquake Hydrogeochemical precursors Groundwater Seismic precursors Non-seismic precursors 



S.R. Paudel likes to thank the Department of Civil Engineering, Pulchowk Campus, Institute of Engineering, Tribhuvan University, Nepal, who creates favorable condition for me working on this manuscript. F. T. Freund acknowledges support over many years from the NASA Earth Surface and Interior (ESI) program and the permission to use facilities at the Engineering Evaluation Laboratory (EEL) at the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, USA. We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their critical comments and helpful suggestions that greatly enhance the quality of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shukra Raj Paudel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sushant Prasad Banjara
    • 3
  • Amrita Wagle
    • 4
  • Friedemann T. Freund
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Civil Engineering, Pulchowk Campus, Institute of EngineeringTribhuvan UniversityLalitpurNepal
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Engineering, College of Science and TechnologyKorea UniversitySejongRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.School of Forestry and Environmental StudiesYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  4. 4.Department of Medical MicrobiologyNobel College, Pokhara UniversityKathmanduNepal
  5. 5.GeoCosmo Science and Research CenterNASA Ames Research ParkMountain ViewUSA
  6. 6.Carl Sagan CenterSETI InstituteMountain ViewUSA
  7. 7.Department of PhysicsSan Jose State UniversitySan JoseUSA

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