Scientists learned how animals predict earthquakes


05/12/2011

Animals are able to sense changes in the chemical composition of the groundwater, which occur before the earthquake. This, according to the scientists, can cause bizarre behavior of animals associated with the earthquake. Researchers engaged in a detailed study of the chemical changes after notice that a colony of toads left her pond in L’Aquila (Italy), in 2009 for a few days before the earthquake. They believe that the behavior of animals can be an accurate prediction of earthquakes.

Details of the research team were published in the "Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health". In their article, they described in detail the mechanism by which rocks are under stress in the Earth’s crust release charged particles that react with the groundwater.

Animals that live in groundwater or near them, are very sensitive to any changes in the chemical composition of their environment, so they can feel the approach of the earthquake before the rocks start to move, causing tremors.

A team of researchers led by Friedman Freund (Friedemann Freund) from NASA and Rachel Grant (Rachel Grant) from the Open University of the UK hope their hypothesis will inspire biologists and geologists to cooperate in order to detect exactly how animals might help us recognize some of the hidden from our eyes for signs of an imminent earthquake.

Of L’Aquila toads are not the first example of strange animal behavior before a large seismic event. Many cases of strange behavior before earthquakes reptiles, amphibians and fish. In 1975, in Haychenge, China, for example, many people began to notice the appearance of snakes in the street, who had left their burrows a month before the city suffered from severe, devastating earthquake. This phenomenon seemed especially odd because it happened in the winter. Snakes were in the middle stage of hibernation, and reptiles out of the norm, when the surface is dominated by the negative temperature was suicide for the cold-blooded animals.

But each of these cases - the awakening of reptiles, amphibians, or escape the appearance on the surface of deep water fish - was in his own peculiar phenomenon. In addition, large earthquakes are so rare that the events associated with them almost impossible to study in detail.

Scientists at the U.S. space agency investigated the process of changing the chemical composition, which usually occurs when rocks are under heavy stress. They were interested to know whether these changes are associated in any way with the mass migration of toads.

Their tests conducted in the laboratory have shown that these changes are indeed related to "escape" amphibians, namely, that the earth’s crust could have a direct influence on the content of chemical substances pond where toads were living and breeding in that period. NASA geophysicist, Friedman Freund clearly demonstrated that when rocks were under very high levels of stress, such as "giant tectonic forces" just before the earthquake, they release charged particles.

These charged particles can spread to the surrounding rocks, as explained by Dr. Freund. When they appear on the surface, they react with air, converting the air molecules into charged particles known as ions. This is a rather complex mechanism, and as they note, it should be tested more thoroughly.

Original: BBC


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