Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Technique for Finding Weakness in Earth’s Crust

30.09.2016

Scientists have developed a method to estimate weakness in the Earth’s outer layers which will help explain and predict volcanic activity and earthquakes.

Published in the journal Science today, the research describes a new model of the Earth’s movement in the upper crust through to upper mantle (400km below the surface), allowing predictions at a much smaller scale than previously possible.


Credit: Jiashun Hu, University of Illinois

Geodynamic modelling relies on knowing the ‘viscosity’ or resistance to changing shape of the Earth’s outer layers.

The research is a collaboration between researchers at the University of Illinois in the US and University of Adelaide in Australia.

Geodynamic modelling relies on knowing the ‘viscosity’ or resistance to changing shape of the Earth’s outer layers.

“Producing realistic models of these movements has been difficult because the small scale variations in viscosity are often poorly known,” says co-author Dr Derrick Hasterok, from the University of Adelaide’s School of Physical Sciences.

“In essence, we’ve developed a method to estimate small scale (between one and 10 kilometer) variations of viscosity within the upper 400 km of the Earth’s crust using surface-based electromagnetic imaging techniques.”

The resulting model allows the dramatic improvement of flow models which can be used to make predictions about the forces driving tectonic plate deformation and sources of potential seismic and volcanic activity.

“This method will aid our understanding of the processes happening that cause earthquakes and volcanic activity,” says Dr Hasterok. “We’ll be able to see why earthquakes and volcanoes have occurred in the past and look for places where this might potentially happen in the future.”

The method they have developed uses an electromagnetic imaging technique called magnetotellurics to estimate the electrical conductivity beneath the Earth's surface.

“The same factors which affect electrical conductivity ─ temperature, water content, and the presence of molten material (magma) ─ also affect the viscosity or strength. The hotter, wetter or more molten, the weaker the structure,” says lead author Dr Lijun Liu, from the University of Illinois.

“We’ve been able to look at processes operating beneath the Earth’s surface at a much smaller scale than previous geodynamic modelling.”

The researchers used data from a magnetotelluric survery of western United States to show their model works. Currently there is a continent-wide project mapping the Australian upper mantle using the same electromagnetic technique, and the researchers believe applying this data to their new model will bring improved understanding of volcanic and earthquake activity along the southeastern and eastern coast of Australia.

Media Contacts:

Dr Derrick Hasterok
School of Physical Sciences
University of Adelaide
derrick.hasterok@adelaide.edu.au

Dr Lijun Liu
Assistant Professor in Geophysics
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Phone: +1 217 300 0378
ljliu@illinois.edu

Dr Derrick Hasterok | newswise
Further information:
http://www.adelaide.edu.au
http://www.illinois.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Massive impact crater from a kilometer-wide iron meteorite discovered in Greenland
15.11.2018 | Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen

nachricht The unintended consequences of dams and reservoirs
14.11.2018 | Uppsala University

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'

16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

Good preparation is half the digestion

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Microscope measures muscle weakness

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>