Scientists want to use gravitational waves to detect earthquakes

Monitoring small changes in Earth's gravity when an earthquake strikes can help save lives, scientists believe, who published a study of this in the journal Science. According to experts, the idea is to use gravity waves to perform this type of measurement.

The scientists' proposal was based on analyzes of the Tohoku earthquake, which was also responsible for the tsunami that hit Fukushima in March 2011 (considered the fifth strongest event to hit the planet).


The earthquake hit 9 degrees on the Richter scale and caused such damage that it also changed the Earth's surface. But the most interesting data identified about this scenario was the change that the earthquake caused in terrestrial gravity.

This is because of the internal composition of the earth, which is not homogeneous. In places like the one hit by Tohoku, where the epicenter was in the ocean, this kind of change in gravity is common. This is because the movement caused by the earthquake changes the underground rock formations, which consequently also displaces the water and changing sea level, ultimately affecting the gravitational force of the region.

sea ​​earthquake

Why is all this important? Basically, knowing that concussions like Tohoku's cause make such changes, you can quickly measure them. So scientists believe they could have warned people about Tohoku's intensity 3 minutes after it started acting. It seems little, but it is enough to save lives.

Just to give you an idea of ​​how much this time is: at the time of the Fukushima shaking, the Japan Meteorological Agency took 3 hours to detect the size of the disaster. And the initial estimates were 7.9 degrees of magnitude. The event resulted in over 15, 000 deaths.

How would it happen

The study suggests that gravitational signals travel at over 1.07 million kilometers per hour and can be more easily detected at stations located in regions 1, 000 or 2, 000 kilometers away from the epicenter. Earthquakes have a distinct wave pattern; As such, they could be quickly detected before the disaster actually struck.

earthquake 3

Although there is no technology yet to predict these earthquakes, earthquakes of 8.5 degrees or greater could be better identified with gravitational wave analysis, giving more time to act.

The monitoring proposal is especially important if you cross-check this information with another study recently presented to the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, which points out that in 2018 we may see an increase in the number of earthquakes due to a slight slowdown in Earth's rotation.

Scientists want to use gravitational waves to detect earthquakes via TecMundo