Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) at its Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) have discovered a way to forecast earthquakes based on tremors or earthquakes below a Richter scale of 2.
The study, led by Indian-origin researcher Deepa Mele Veedu, was published in scientific journal Nature on 4 April 2016.
So far, scientists believed that larger earthquakes are unlikely to occur following tremors or earthquakes below a Richter scale of 2 that are caused by small vibrations or slow fault movements.
However, the NTU team found that not only do these vibrations potentially point to an impending earthquake, but they also discovered a discernible pattern to them.
The team’s latest findings could potentially be applied in the seismic monitoring of the area to help better forecast large earthquakes in the region.
Key findings of the study
• The discovery defied the understanding of how faults accumulate and release stress over time. These vibration patterns are caused by alternating slow and fast ruptures occurring on the same patch of a fault.
• If only slow movements are detected, it does not mean that a large earthquake cannot happen there. On the contrary, the same area of the fault can rupture in a catastrophic earthquake.
• Seismic hazards in the Southeast Asia region will probably come from an impending large earthquake in the Mentawai seismic gap in Sumatra, Indonesia – a current area of active monitoring and investigation.
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