The challenges and possibilities of earthquake predictions using non-seismic precursors

Abstract

The catastrophic magnitude of life and monetary losses associated with earthquakes deserve serious attention and mitigation measures. However, in addition to the pre-earthquake and post-earthquake alleviation actions, the scientific community indeed needs to reconsider the possibilities of earthquake predictions using non-seismic precursors. A significant number of studies in the recent decades have reported several possible earthquake precursors such as anomalies in electric field, magnetic field, gas/aerosol emissions, ionospheric signals, ground water level, land surface temperature, surface deformations, animal behaviour, thermal infrared signals, atmospheric gravity waves, and lightning. Such substantial number of scientific articles and reported anomalous signals cannot be overlooked without a thoughtful appraisal. Here, we provide an opinion on the way forward for earthquake prediction in terms of challenges and possibilities while using non-seismic precursors. A general point of concern is the widely varying arrival times and the amplitudes of the anomalies, putting a question mark on their universal applicability as earthquake markers. However, a unifying concept which does not only define the physical basis of either all or most of these anomalies but which also streamlines their characterisation procedure must be the focus of future earthquake precursory research. Advancements in developing the adaptable instrumentation for in-situ observations of the claimed non-seismic precursors must be the next step and the satellite observations should not be taken as a replacement for field-based research. We support the need to standardise the precursor detection techniques and to employ a global-scale monitoring system for making any possible earthquake predictions reliable.

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Bhardwaj, A., Sam, L. & Martin-Torres, F.J. The challenges and possibilities of earthquake predictions using non-seismic precursors. Eur. Phys. J. Spec. Top. 230, 367–380 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1140/epjst/e2020-000257-3

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