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Geophysicists Discover How Rocks Produce Magnetic Pulses

Unknown Lamer posted about 5 months ago | from the how-do-they-work dept.

Science 72

KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "Since the 1960s, geophysicists have known that some earthquakes are preceded by ultra-low frequency magnetic pulses that increase in number until the quake takes place. But this process has always puzzled them: how can rocks produce magnetic pulses? Now a group of researchers has worked out what's going on. They say that rocks under pressure can become semiconductors that produce magnetic pulses under certain circumstances.

When igneous rocks form in the presence of water, they contain peroxy bonds with OH groups. Under great temperature and pressure, these bonds break down creating electron-holes pairs. The electrons become trapped at the site of the broken bonds but the holes are free to move through the crystal structure. The natural diffusion of these holes through the rock creates p and n regions just like those in doped semiconductors. And the boundary between these regions behaves like the p-n junction in a diode, allowing current to flow in one direction but not the other. At least not until the potential difference reaches a certain value when the boundary breaks down allowing a sudden increase in current. It is this sudden increase that generates a magnetic field. And the sheer scale of this process over a volume of hundreds of cubic meters ensures that these magnetic pulses have an extremely low frequency that can be detected on the surface. The new theory points to the possibility of predicting imminent earthquakes by triangulating the position of rocks under pressure by searching for the magnetic pulses they produce (although significantly more work needs to be done to characterize the process before then)."

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Not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47164749)

see Triboluminescence!

How far can the Magnetic Pulses propagate ? (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 5 months ago | (#47169763)

Let's say it's a huge earthquake, something along the line of the 8.something earthquake that shook Fukushima, causing tsunami and untimately got that nuke plant to melt ...

In a big quake like that, how _far_ can the magnetic pulse propagate ?

10 miles ? 100 ? 1000 ?

Has anyone got any info ?

Re:How far can the Magnetic Pulses propagate ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47177893)

They have been detected up to about 50km away. The limited range may be due to the fact that if the wave hits the surface at an incidence greater than some critical angle then total internal reflection will occur. In geometric optics (which is somewhat of a poor approximation due to the extreme wavelength) this is known as the Brewster angle.

Magnitude 8 earthquakes, being relatively rare, have not yet been subject to this analysis as there are currently a very limited number of observation stations...the 3/11/2011 Japan earthquake you mention was a magnitude 9, one of the biggest in recent history.

Well.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47164769)

Science, bitches.

Re: Well.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47164899)

Dis-covered what was ALREADY there..... Dao.... bitches..... ;-)

So... (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 5 months ago | (#47164777)

piezo effect? With magnetism, electricity can't be far behind. I wonder if that can't start underground coal fires.

Re:So... (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 5 months ago | (#47165137)

Without oxygen there can't be a coal fire.

Re:So... (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 5 months ago | (#47168923)

FTFWiki:

Some fires along coal seams are natural occurrences. Some coals may self-ignite at temperatures as low as 40 C (104 F) for brown coal in the right conditions of moisture and grain size. The fire usually begins a few decimeters inside the coal at a depth in which the permeability of the coal allows the inflow of air but in which the ventilation does not remove the heat which is generated.

Nothing to do with piezo though.

Re:So... (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 5 months ago | (#47169339)

FTFWiki:

Some fires along coal seams are natural occurrences. Some coals may self-ignite at temperatures as low as 40 C (104 F) for brown coal in the right conditions of moisture and grain size.
The fire usually begins a few decimeters inside the coal at a depth in which the permeability of the coal allows the inflow of air but in which the ventilation does not remove the heat which is generated.

Nothing to do with piezo though.

if you consider "less than a meter under the surface" to be underground, then yeah I guess it could happen less than a meter under the surface.

Rock = 2*oxygen + Silicon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47177861)

Rocks - silicates - are full of oxygen. They are silicon dioxide. The electrical currents in question result from changes in the oxidation state of the oxygen atoms, an electron-hole semiconductor effect. This is distinct from piezoelectricity, which is a very short-lived phenomenon.

Re:So... (2)

whovian (107062) | about 5 months ago | (#47165419)

piezo effect? With magnetism, electricity can't be far behind. I wonder if that can't start underground coal fires.

Probably more like lightning preceeding earthquakes:

https://www.google.com/search?... [google.com]

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47178007)

The pulses in the paper were recorded within a few kilometers of Lima, Peru, where it almost never rains (all their water comes from the Andes) and electrical storms have not happened in recent history.

However, the magnetic pulse is closely related to "earthquake lights" which is what I presumed you meant by the search query 'earthquake+preceded+by+lightning'

The only difference, I think, is that the boundary of the p-n diode would actually be the earth's surface in the case of the earthquake light.

We need wagnerrp's opinion on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47164797)

Surely it's the heat causing this? Not the pressure?

Re:We need wagnerrp's opinion on this (2)

Livius (318358) | about 5 months ago | (#47165743)

Both are forms of energy density.

Rock and magnets - how do they work? (4, Funny)

korbulon (2792438) | about 5 months ago | (#47164813)

Don't nobody tell ICP.

It's a cover up (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#47164819)

those pulses are clearly a MUTO mating call.

Animals? (4, Interesting)

OzPeter (195038) | about 5 months ago | (#47164825)

Given that lots of animals are sensitive to magnetic fields, this would also seem to explain them reacting prior to earthquakes.

Re:Animals? (4, Insightful)

Deadstick (535032) | about 5 months ago | (#47164971)

...given that they really do react in advance to earthquakes. That lore has been in the "everybody knows" class for millennia, but the observations have an unpleasant habit of being reported after the quake. If my house started shaking right now, I could certainly think of something goofy our Jack Russell Terrorist did an hour ago.

IIRC, Caltech set up a hotline in the 1980's for people to report anomalous animal behavior, and got a null result...the line would start ringing after the tremor, and there was usually an excuse involving not being near the phone. Perhaps it's time for another try, now that we all have cellphones.

Re:Animals? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47165019)

Jack Russell Terrorist? Has it threatened to commit acts of jihad against the neighborhood cats?

Re:Animals? (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about 5 months ago | (#47165097)

No, in his only furball with a cat the cat was definitely the aggressor. However, he's hell on prairie dogs.

Re:Animals? (1)

DroolTwist (1357725) | about 5 months ago | (#47166513)

No, in his only furball with a cat the cat was definitely the aggressor. However, he's hell on prairie dogs.

I'm loving your auto-correct. LOL.

Re:Animals? (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about 5 months ago | (#47168213)

Are you commenting on "Jack Russell Terrorist" or "furball"? Both of them are common terms and can be googled...no auto-correct involved.

Re:Animals? (3, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | about 5 months ago | (#47165043)

a hotline in the 1980's for people to report anomalous animal behavior

The problem is that anomalous is such a vague word. I'm not going to call the University every time my cat does something a bit odd.

Re:Animals? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47166401)

If your cat does something odd so frequently that you wouldn't call in as requested, then we can't use odd cat behavior as a predictor of anything.

Re:Animals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47168665)

It's the aggregate of all reports that would be of interest, not your cat per se. I think you missed the point.

Re:Animals? (1)

Nutria (679911) | about 5 months ago | (#47176371)

I think you missed the point.

No, you missed the point that I'm not going to call Caltech every time my cat does something a bit weird. Neither are most other people.

ask Bill S. Preston, Esq. about Station. (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 5 months ago | (#47165065)

Jim Berkland [wikipedia.org] used to monitor the classified ads in the newspaper for trends in missing pets. Back when there were newspapers, and they had classified ads.

And TT Brown [thomastownsendbrown.com] had done some interesting research into geologic piezoelectricy, although Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] only talks about his anti gravity research.

Re:ask Bill S. Preston, Esq. about Station. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47168753)

Jim Berkland [wikipedia.org] used to monitor the classified ads in the newspaper for trends in missing pets. Back when there were newspapers, and they had classified ads.

This has actually been repeated several times with null results, even in some cases it was repeated with the exact same dates and newspapers to find a few claims to the contrary had miscounted.

Re:Animals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47165077)

Reports of animals reacting as such go back many years. One notable report was by Claudius Aelianus, who lived around 300 AD. His report (translated here [tikalon.com] ) makes interesting reading.

Re:Animals? (2)

OglinTatas (710589) | about 5 months ago | (#47165753)

When your dog starts pooping east-west it is time to take earthquake precautions
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/ru... [pbs.org]

Re:Animals? (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | about 5 months ago | (#47165759)

and the electrical properties of the giza complex as well? It has already been postulated that the pyramids were flooded in order to pressurize the stone, causing it to pulse.

Re:Animals? (1)

miller701 (525024) | about 5 months ago | (#47166067)

It's hard to believe that would be enough pressure.

Re:Animals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47171051)

and besides, i highly doubt that the small amount of water makes a lot more effect in pressure than the solid rock that composes a huge majority of the things....

Re:Animals? (1)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about 5 months ago | (#47168839)

I remember reading a story of an "exodus" of fish from the region around New Orleans 3 days before the Katrina disaster. People said you could almost walk across without getting wet for stepping on all the fish. I figured "uh oh, something bad's gonna happen." And even though the storm wasn't tremendously huge -- it created a lot of choking debris and run off that could have hurt the fish. So it seems some kind of early warning was helping them.

Of course the people and weather specialists were warned with their technology, but we had some leadership that did not have the common sense of fish at the time.

Magnetic Pulses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47164893)

The other option is of course the tin-foil hat version. The magnetic pulses are causing the earthquakes and are actually of human origin.

Re:Magnetic Pulses (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 5 months ago | (#47164951)

You'd have to be pretty gullible to believe it was humans that were responsible and not the Nordics.

Re:Magnetic Pulses (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | about 5 months ago | (#47164959)

No, the earthquakes are caused by fracking, and the pre-quake pressure causes the pulses. So, the pulses are of indirect human origin, while maintaining plausible deniability.

Come on, don't you know anything about conspiracy theories?

Re:Magnetic Pulses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47165007)

There is a conspiracy going on to make conspiracy theories sound disreputable.

I'm not RTFA... (1)

jasno (124830) | about 5 months ago | (#47164907)

Why is it that the holes can move but the electrons can't? I thought holes were just places where electrons could be but aren't, so moving holes implies movement of electrons.

Re:I'm not RTFA... (2)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#47164999)

Why is it that the holes can move but the electrons can't? I thought holes were just places where electrons could be but aren't, so moving holes implies movement of electrons.

Your description of "holes" is accurate. Understand that this term is used do describe how semi-conductors work and it really means "positive charged area" in some material. "Holes" is just easier to say than "a place where an electron could be but is not" or "Positively charged area".

Re:I'm not RTFA... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47188827)

Semiconductors are materials, where the conduction band (CB) is within 1-2 eV of the upper edge of the valence band (VB). The moderate distance in energy allows some electrons to be thermally activated, at ambient temperatures, from the VB to the CB. In semiconductors, when an electron makes a transition from the VB to the CB, a "hole" is created in the VB and a highly mobile electron is injected into the VB. Thereby an electron-hole pair is generated. Minerals are materials, where the CB is typically more than 4.5 eV above the VB, often more than 6.5 eV. Thermal activation of electron from the VB to the CB just cannot take place. However, minerals that form igneous and high-grade metamorphic rocks ubiquitously contain peroxy defects, where two oxygen anions of valence 1- are bonded together in a very short bond. When peroxy bonds break - which they can do under the effect of mechanical deformation, a different type of electron-hole pairs is formed consisting of the electron being trapped in the broken peroxy bond below the edge of the VB and the hole (now called "positive hole") is associated with energy levels at the top of the VB. This allows the positive holes to delocalize and become highly mobile. They can propagate by phonon-assisted electron transfer - a mechanism that predicts a maximum velocity of around 200 m/s. Measured values are in the range of 100 m/s.

Re:I'm not RTFA... (1)

werepants (1912634) | about 5 months ago | (#47165953)

An N-type semiconductor (think N for negative) has an excessive number of electrons. So, those electrons hop around from atom to atom and you get a movement of negative charge.

A P-type semiconductor (P for positive) doesn't have enough electrons to go around. So, you get places where electrons aren't, but would like to be (holes).

In either case, you don't really have electrons moving around - you have charge moving around. Think of a tube, where you insert one ball at the end, and a ball pops out the other end. Or something like a Newton's cradle. You are transporting balls in one sense, but it isn't exactly right to think of an individual ball traveling. Instead, the location of an excess electron (or an absent electron) is traveling.

Re:I'm not RTFA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47177971)

The hole is a conceptual device. You can think of it kind of like an air bubble in water. A semiconductor could also be described using only electrons.

When a new energy level gets created below the energy level of the valence electrons (which happens when the rock is stressed) electrons in the valence shell fall down into this energy level. These "holes" in the valence band are replaced by electrons that get sucked in from outside, creating electrical current.

Some rocks under p != All rocks under p (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 5 months ago | (#47165067)

The new theory points to the possibility of predicting imminent earthquakes by triangulating the position of rocks under pressure by searching for the magnetic pulses they produce (although significantly more work needs to be done to characterize the process before then)."

But that will only find certain types of igneous rocks formed underwater peroxy bonds under pressure. Not all rocks under pressure. Still if this type of rock is prevalent enough in a region, it could be useful.

Also geologists have been calculating rocks under stress using so many methods and observation. The problem is the slippage and failure occur unpredictably. The stress can be estimated. The strain may be observed. At least the surface strain. But the ultimate (or failing) strength of the rock layers is largely unknown.

Re:Some rocks under p != All rocks under p (1)

kit_triforce (3682453) | about 5 months ago | (#47168087)

Remember that for the most part, most of the world has at least some igneous inclusions that might make this possible, and that further research may point to other electromagnetic discharges that may be detectible. Also, this does not mean underwater. Rocks formed underwater can only be volcanic, as the rapid cooling due to surrounding water creates the microcrystalline-to-glass consistency that makes up ALL volcanic rock. Igneous, by definition, has cooled slowly over time, allowing for crystal growth (individual minerals precipitating out of the magma at certain temperatures). The water is extremely deep groundwater, under massive pressure and heat, and affects the chemistry and physics of the magma.

Re:Some rocks under p != All rocks under p (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47178021)

Earthquakes usually occur several kilometers deep into the crust where there are generally lots of igneous rocks. Also, it is impossible (or at least exceedingly impractical) to measure strain at such depths.

Some rocks under p != All rocks under p (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47190161)

This is one of the authors (FF) of the paper under discussion.

(1) All magmas contain contain dissolved gases, the same gases that come out of the mouth of volcanoes, water being one of the major components. All minerals that crystallize out of those magmas contain dissolved gases, water being one of them, forming hydroxyls such as Si-OH. Many, if not most of those Si-OH occur as pairs, Si-OH HO-Si. Work done already in the 1980s strongly indicates that, during cooling, in the temperature window around 500ÃC, the two OH facing each other in the hydroxyl pair defects rearrange their electrons in such a way that the two hydroxyl protons become reduced to H2, while the two hydroxyl oxygens become oxidized from the 2- to the 1- state, forming peroxy Si-OO-Si. This is nothing else by a redox reaction known to chemists around the world, applied here to a system in the solid state that takes place deep in the Earth's crust. The up-shot of this brief discussion is that EVERY rock deep in the Earth's crust that goes through this cycle as part of its geological history will contain peroxy defects.

(2) Geologists can calculate rocks under stress as much as they want, so long as they do not know (and acknowledge) that those rocks ubiquitously contain peroxy defects and how those peroxy defects behave, their results have little or no bearing on the question at hand: How can electronic charges, positive and negative, be generated by stressing rocks?

Staring at the conditions under which rocks rupture catastrophically, is also quite unproductive. The reason is that, when stresses are applied, most of the process leading to the activation of mobile electronic charges, positive and negative, has already occurred. Looking at the build-up of stress long before rupture provides much more insight.

Use in electronics (1)

excursive (2823185) | about 5 months ago | (#47165085)

When I see the word "semiconductor" I think "transistor". I wonder if this discover can lead to a new type of commercially practical semiconductor. Obviously not on the size scale of seismic plates, but perhaps this effect can be created in other materials,now that we know it exists.

Re:Use in electronics (1)

Megane (129182) | about 5 months ago | (#47165413)

Maybe the whole planet could be a computer made out of these geologic semiconductors! (Where have I heard that before? Something about mice and dolphins and fjords...)

Re:Use in electronics (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 5 months ago | (#47166445)

Imagine a Beowulf earthquake cluster...

Planetary computer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47166473)

The idea of geological circuits reminds me of "Earth" by David Brin.

Re:Use in electronics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47166085)

Why? Do you hate diodes? How can something that needs gigapascals of pressure and high temperatures be commercially practical?

the electricquakes website tracked this for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47165425)

Up until haarp cut the magnetic graph feed you could often see anomolies preceed earthquakes there.

Its www.electricquakes.org and they still have other feeds pertaining to earthquake electrical activity as well as discussion about the likely piezoelectric foundation for them.

Its only been the earthquake overlords at usgs that have denied this for so long.

I saw a live demo of this at NASA, was interesting (1)

volvox_voxel (2752469) | about 5 months ago | (#47165537)

Friedemann Freund is a man with a lot of ideas.. At Yuri's night at the NASA Ames campus, he demonstrated this magnetic pulse-from-rock by using a dense column of rock and a hydrolic press. He had a saucer sized capactive sensor that was tied to a small microcontroller for remote-sensing/field usage that could detect the change in the electric feild near the rock column as it was compressed. He mentioned that he'd instrumented a fault line. He mentioned that the current released was strong enough to ionize the air around the faultline if a lot of rock was compressed at once. Compression can happen before an earthquarke, which is why it may serve as an early warning detector. He also thinks that some animals go nuts before an earthquake because they can smell traces of the the ionized air.

Here is his profile: http://www.seti.org/users/frie... [seti.org]

He also has some interesting ideas about the origins of life on earth, specifically the chemistry of mud on the ocean floor, about how long polymer chains can form; the working material for the first cells, and alternative theories of oxygen formation in our atmosphere..

Re:I saw a live demo of this at NASA, was interest (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#47165575)

Except all studies seem to indicate that animals do NOT act any differently before an earthquake. It's all seems to be post hoc, ergo propter hoc reasoning.

Re:I saw a live demo of this at NASA, was interest (1)

volvox_voxel (2752469) | about 5 months ago | (#47165995)

..Perhaps I remembered that part wrong, at the very least he would likely have used circumspect languge.. If I see him again, I'll ask.. He did mention that before an earthquake, in places, given enough energy release you can apparently see a flash of light, as all the air above the fault ionizes.. Corona discharge has been known to create ozone..

Animals freaking out beforehand everywhere is unlikely , however standing right above a fault-line where a sudden discharge of energy may be a different story.

But can they... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47165687)

detect sarcasm?

Quite clever (3, Funny)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 5 months ago | (#47165719)

Clever work. I'd go so far as to call it... igneous.

Tip your wait staff.

Would hav ebeen more impressive if (1)

JTsyo (1338447) | about 5 months ago | (#47166093)

Since the 1960s, geophysicists have known that some earthquakes are preceded by ultra-low frequency magnetic pulses that increase in number until the quake takes place.

The pluses would have been more impressive if they decreased in number at some point with anti-pulses. I'm guessing they meant frequency instead of number.

Really big P-N junctions? LEDs? (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 5 months ago | (#47166475)

This summary made me think of LEDs and earthquake lights. Even if there is light generation, though, I can't imagine that it would be very intense. And then there's the whole "buried under meters of rock" issue.

Re:Really big P-N junctions? LEDs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47178015)

In an LED, the light comes from electron-hole recombination and can pass through the diode because it is transparent. This is more akin to a Zener diode, where a certain potential leads to electrical breakdown and a corresponding magnetic pulse.

I don't trust this, indeed. (3, Informative)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | about 5 months ago | (#47167881)

IAAP (I am a physicist), and my work field concerns also geophysics. TFA is very suspicious for several reasons. I just list the simplest points to understand

First, there are way too much self references: take for example the first sentence "Rocks, especially igneous rocks, behave as semiconduc- tors under certain conditions". They connect this sentence to four papers previously published by one of the authors (Freund). Nobody else in the scientific world ever verified that rocks are semiconductors ?!? This does not make a good start for the topic they are going to discuss.

The authors claim that it is more than 50 years that the boundary between earthquakes and VLF emission has been established. Unfortunately this is not true: if it were, seismic network would be composed of radio receivers, they are way cheaper than seismometers. The existence of a connection between VLF emission and earthquakes is still an open question, and there are no conclusive proofs supporting it.
What we know is that earthquakes are usually not associated to a simultaneous VLF emission, so a theory explaining how earthquake precursors can trigger a VLF emissions should also justify why earthquakes have no VLF emission as well.

Figure 1 of TFA is a masterpiece of deception: please look at the value range in the graphs showing the computed and measured events: do you still think that the numerical predictions estimated by the authors and the field measurements can be defined "similar" ?!? They only share the same shape, when drawn on very different time and amplitude ranges!

Summing up, I am afraid that this paper isn't going to be of any help with earthquake prediction...the next, please!

Re:I don't trust this, indeed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47168079)

I agree. Also maybe it's just me, but it should seem blatantly obvious that rocks produce no magnetic "pulses". The author, or "John Scoville at San Jose State University and a couple of pals" duck the question. They provide a non-answer. Anyone studying first year university Physics will know that a large amount of ferromagnetic material is necessary to be magnetic; but by themselves, may or may not produce a field. I also didn't read an explanation of how "Rocks, especially igneous rocks, behave as semiconduc- tors under certain conditions".

Re:I don't trust this, indeed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47177933)

Um, ever heard of electromagnetism? Not the same thing as ferromagnetism. Or paramagnetism, for that matter.

Nobody should trust this . . . yet. (2)

mmell (832646) | about 5 months ago | (#47168725)

TFA says these guys suggest it may be so. I'd say that they're close to postulating a hypothesis.

The next step will be to see if there is enough evidence to support a theoretical assertion. Then, testing and experimentation can be devised to either support or disprove that theory.

They're suggesting that the Earth's mantle (silicon with an extremely high percentage of impurities present) may act like a semiconductor (silicon with tiny percentages of specific impurities present), creating a natural Zener diode, a huge but inefficient one. I'm with you - skeptical. Still, it should be possible without too great an investment in manpower or materials to support or disprove their hypothesis. Should it survive that step to become a theory, supporting or disproving it shouldn't take too much more work.

Re:Nobody should trust this . . . yet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47177953)

You sound like you paid attention in science class or something. Be careful, they might think you are a witch...

Nobody should trust this . . . yet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47190215)

Of course, "nobody should trust this..." but it would be nice, if everybody would invest a little more brain power and pay a little bit more attention to what the story is all about.

It's not about the Earth's mantle. The Earth's mantle is so hot that equilibrium thermodynamics rules supreme. It's about the rocks in the Earth's crust, in the "seismogenic zone" between about 7-35 km, where some 85% of all earthquakes occur. In this part of the Earth's crust the rocks are at temperatures, typically below 500ÃC, where thermodynamic equilibrium cannot be maintained and where reactions are possible (and do occur) to which the scientific community has not paid enough attention or no attention at all: redox conversion of solute hydroxyl pairs, Si-OH HO-Si to peroxy plus hydrogen, Si-OO-Si + H2.

Many in the mainstream geoscience community call this reaction "hypothetical" even though there is perfectly good information that this reaction does ubiquitously occur in the depth of the Earth crust - under conditions outside thermodynamic equilibrium. The fact that the mainstream geoscience community has not (yet) grasped it doesn't mean that this redox conversion is hypothetical. Every step of this redox conversion has been described in the geoscience literature since the early 1980s - except that most geoscientists chose to ignore it because understanding it requires a bit more knowledge than what is usually taught in geoscience departments. FF.

Re:Nobody should trust this . . . yet. (1)

mmell (832646) | about 5 months ago | (#47190707)

Consider my post suitable modified. Crust instead of mantle.

My assertion stands. This is a preliminary hypothesis. Your assertion that mainstream science hasn't grasped it yet means that there is insufficient evidence to support it. When that evidence is available, widespread acceptance will happen. Until then, it's just a hypothesis.

Re:I don't trust this, indeed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47177943)

Physicists don't usually open with the line "I am a physicist." ;)

My second clue that you are a geologist is that you seem to know a lot about the history of seismology but don't have anything whatsoever to say about the physics model...maybe you work for the USGS? No wonder you are so shaken up by this...

VLF? Nobody said VLF. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47178157)

The authors claim that it is more than 50 years that the boundary between earthquakes and VLF emission has been established. Unfortunately this is not true: if it were, seismic network would be composed of radio receivers, they are way cheaper than seismometers. The existence of a connection between VLF emission and earthquakes is still an open question, and there are no conclusive proofs supporting it. What we know is that earthquakes are usually not associated to a simultaneous VLF emission, so a theory explaining how earthquake precursors can trigger a VLF emissions should also justify why earthquakes have no VLF emission as well.

This has nothing to do with VLF. It concerns ULF/ELF emissions at ~1Hz. The VLF band is 3000Hz-30000Hz. You should read more carefully before going trolling.

I don't trust this, indeed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47188919)

I am the one (FF) whose work has been quoted repeatedly in this paper - a fact which triggered the comment that "Nobody else in the scientific world ever verified that rocks are semiconductors" - followed a question mark, an exclamation mark and another question mark.

Well, as someone who might have made a significant discovery, may option is to publish in scientific papers, describe exactly how I had done the crucial experiments, and invite the "scientific world" to duplicate my experiments. Sorry, I can't force anybody to actually do it. There is the old jaded story that Galileo invited the cardinals who were about to judge him for heresy to come out into the plaza at night to look through his telescope. He promised them that they would see for themselves the four moons circling Jupiter. The story goes on to report that most of the cardinals chose not to peek through Galileo's telescope - because they "knew" that Galileo's new view of the planetary world could only be wrong.

There are still lots of "cardinals" out there not wanting to see for themselves... ...and there are others, including a (geo)physicist, who claim to have duplicated the FF experiments. However, sneakingly (or out of sheer stupidity) he changed the experimental procedure in such a way that the outcome would be different. This led to the loud proclamation that the FF experiments are irreproducible and, hence, must be wrong.

By the way, the arXiv paper describes an electromagnetic phenomenon in the ULF frequency range, around 0.1 to 5 Hertz. The proclaimed physicist who finds serious faults in that paper spends an entire paragraph talking about VLF which, by definition, refers to the frequency range of 3 - 30 kiloHertz (3,000 to 30,000 Hertz). I believe that there are 3-4 orders of magnitude differences between ULF and VLF. I wonder how this might have escaped his attention?

Summing up, I am afraid that this critique isn't going to cut it...the next, please!

earthquake lights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47178333)

It is interesting that the pulses were measured in Lima, Peru, where 'earthquake lights' were caught by surveillance cameras as they illuminated the night sky during an earthquake a few years ago:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f14pQakxXjc

The camera in that video is pointed toward the ocean...there is an undeveloped rocky island off the coast, but it has no manmade electrification. Pilots on inbound airplanes reported lights emerging from that spot. Also, thanks to the timestamp, the flashes are known to correspond to arrival of the S-waves...so perhaps the stress from the seismic waves produced an electrical discharge similar to the mechanism proposed for the magnetic pulses.

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