Disasters strike our world constantly. The need to know when such events happen is crucial especially when lives matter. One of the hardest to predict is when earthquakes might happen. It has become critical for geologists to know when one might strike especially in areas where it might likely happen. Scientists might have found a new way to do that by finding weaknesses in the Earth's crust.
A collaboration of the University of Illinois and the University of Adelaide in Australia has been made in order to find weaknesses in the Earth's outer layers. By finding these weaknesses predictions would be made at a much smaller scale, according to Science Daily.
The team of researchers has produced a method which could estimate the variations of viscosity within the upper 400 km. of the Earth's surface. Electromagnetic techniques are used in order to make the estimation. The method that has been developed uses an electromagnetic imaging technique known as magnetotellurics. With this method, estimates could be made on electrical conductivity beneath the Earth's surface.
Dr. Derrick Hasterok, one of the co-authors from the University of Adelaide's School of Physical Sciences says that with the method they would better understand the processes that produce earthquakes and volcanic activity. He also added that the method could be used to see why such activities have occurred and could be used also to look for places where they might occur in the future.
Phys Org reports that the team has used data from magnetotelluric surveys done in the western United States to show that the method is successful. The same method is now being done for Australia's upper mantle, mapping it and then using the data gathered to understand earthquake and volcanic activity in the area, particularly along the southeastern and eastern coasts.
Lead author Dr. Lijun Liu from the University of Illinois says that the process they use is at a smaller scale than previous geodynamic modelling. He further adds that the hotter and wetter the magma is found, the weaker that area would be which could then help in predicting where a possible earthquake or volcanic activity would occur.