Nature publishes new findings that could lead to improved earthquake assessments
Seismologists have long known that the buildup of forces along fault zones cause the physical properties of rock and sediments to change deep inside the Earth, at the level where earthquakes occur. Based upon new findings, researchers believe they may be able to design active seismic monitoring systems that continually monitor these subtle changes, looking for telltale signs of an impending earthquake.
The new findings, published in the Dec. 4 issue of the journal Nature, are based on an extensive study of data collected between 1987 and 1997 by ultrasensitive borehole seismometers along the Parkfield segment of the San Andreas fault in central California. By comparing seismograms from a series of minor earthquakes that occurred both before and after a "slow" earthquake at Parkfield in 1993, the researchers were able to detect subtle changes in the level of stress along the fault zone that were caused by this event.
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