Estimation of Electro-Magnetic Signals Generated by Stress Changes before the Arrival of Seismic Waves

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Kenichi Yamazaki, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
This work aims to increase the efficiency of earthquake early warning (EEW) systems. Conventional EEW systems detect occurrence of earthquakes by means of detecting seismic P-waves; thus, they cannot make alert before P-waves reach the ground surface in principle. If we desires to break this limitation, we must observe other physical quantities including the electromagnetic (EM) and gravitational fields, variations of which propagate faster than elastic waves.

The present study focuses on changes in the magnetic field generated by co-seismic stress changes in the Earth’s crust. When magnetic minerals in the Earth’s crust are subjected to mechanical forces, increments or decrements of magnetization appear. This is called the piezomagnetic effect. Significant changes in values of the geomagnetic field has frequently observed between before and after major earthquakes or volcanic ground deformation, which is considered to be generated by the piezomagnetic effect. The problem is, however, whether or not co-seismic changes in the stress field generates earlier signals, that is, changes in the magnetic field at observation sites which occur before arrival of seismic waves.

To answer the question, a set of equations governing elastodynamics, electromagnetics, and the piezomagnetic effect, are solved for a whole space stuffed with a uniform physical properties. An impulsive double couple is assumed to represent the earthquake source mechanism.

A set of solutions is derived in time-domain, and its features are investigated for several sets of parameters including electrical conductivity and seismic velocities. We can confirm that there are certain amount of changes in the EM field, even before arrival of seismic waves. EM signals before arrival of seismic waves (i.e. earlier EM signals) are relatively large in the case that the Earth’s crust is conductive (> 0.01 S/m). However, the appearance of relatively large EM signal is not simultaneous to the rupture; instead, it is only after seismic waves approach the observation site.

This result means detection of earthquakes by means of observing piezomagnetic signals is not easy at present in general, although it will be possible if sensitivity of EM sensors improves.