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14 September 2011

Atmospheric electrons may act differently before megaquakes

Just before the recent huge earthquake in Japan, electron counts in the atmosphere high above the epicenter took a surprising turn, a new study indicates. Measurements gleaned from GPS satellites recorded more electrons in the ionosphere over the soon-to rupture fault than expected. A similar uptick occurred before extra-large quakes in Chile in 2010 and Sumatra in 2004, the researcher found.

A tantalizing question for seismologists and atmospheric scientists is whether this high-altitude electron bump, if confirmed by other studies, is a true early-warning signal for devastating earthquakes.

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2 March 2010

A hectic weekend at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center

Brian Shiro is a geophysicist who has been working at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) for over four years. On a normal work day, his tasks go from checking that the warning system works to maintaining the center’s website and working on expanding Hawaii’s seismic network. But last weekend, after a 8.8 magnitude earthquake hit Chile and a Pacific-wide tsunami alert was issued for the first time since 1964. …

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