Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A new discovery helps us to understand the complex nature of earthquakes

08.07.2005


Álvaro Corral, a physicist at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, has discovered that the structure of the recurrence time of earthquakes, which is the time interval between successive earthquakes, is similar to the spatial structure of physics systems when they change phase in the “critical points”. The research has been published in Physical Review Letters and shows that the time interval between successive earthquakes depends on the time that elapsed between previous earthquakes. Although this is dependent upon statistics, the discovery may help to improve risk estimation.



Examples of critical phenomena in nature include when water changes state, moving from liquid to gaseous form, and when a magnet is at the critical point, where it loses its magnetism because of the high temperature. In the second example the magnet has a property that exists only at the moment when it changes state. This property is called self-similarity at different scales. When the temperature is below the critical point, the microscopic magnets that form the magnetic fields are well ordered and point mainly all in the same direction. When the temperature rises above the critical point, everything becomes chaotic, each microscopic magnet points in a random direction, and there is no global magnetic field. When the temperature is at the critical point, on the borderline, the microscopic magnets that point in the same direction are grouped together in small clusters. If we step back and look at a larger area, we see that these clusters are grouped also in clusters of clusters, and the same thing occurs each time we look at a larger area. This is what is meant by self-similarity at different scales.

The discovery made by the UAB researcher is that this self-similarity at different scales also occurs in the time intervals between earthquakes. This means that if we note the different earthquakes that have taken place in a given zone over a large period of time, we see that they are grouped together, but the most surprising thing is that if we look at a longer period of time, the groups of earthquakes are themselves also grouped in larger clusters. And the same happens for any period of time, for earthquakes of any magnitude, wherever they take place in the world. This has a fundamental implication on the type of phenomenon that earthquakes are. Rather than being chaotic, as one might think, we can consider them to be critical.


As Corral confirmed, “for this self-similar structure to exist, the role of correlations between earthquakes must be very important, that is, the interval between earthquakes must be dependant on previous earthquakes in a very determined way.” Dr. Corral clarified by saying “This does not mean that this dependence is determinist; it does not allow us to predict when the next earthquake will occur, but there is a clear statistical dependence that may help to improve risk estimation.”

| alfa
Further information:
http://www.uab.es/uabdivulga/eng
http://www.uab.es

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht A promising target in the quest for a 1-million-year-old Antarctic ice core
24.05.2018 | University of Washington

nachricht Tropical Peat Swamps: Restoration of Endangered Carbon Reservoirs
24.05.2018 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>