Yunma Xu

Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, United States

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    ABSTRACT: Although it is well known that coseismic gravity changes take place during an earthquake, previous research has not yielded convincing evidence demonstrating that significant gravity changes occur before large earthquakes. Furthermore, even if we suspect that gravity changes occur before large earthquakes, we have yet to demonstrate how to consistently observe these changes for useful earthquake forecast that would bring benefits to society. We analyzed ground gravity survey data obtained in 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2005 at stations of the Crustal Movement Observation Network of China (CMONOC) and examined gravity changes before the occurrence of nine large (M s ⩾6.8) earthquakes that ruptured within or near mainland China and Taiwan from November 2001 to August 2008. Results from this analysis show that significant gravity changes occurred across a large region before each of these nine large earthquakes, and these changes were detected by repeated ground gravity surveys through CMONOC. Although these gravity changes were significant, more research is needed to investigate whether these gravity changes could be viewed as precursors of large earthquakes. Limitations and uncertainties in the data include sparseness of the gravity monitoring network, long time intervals between consecutive gravity surveys, inevitable measurement errors, hydrological effects on gravity, and effects of vertical crustal movements on gravity. Based on these observations, we make several recommendations about possible future directions in earthquake-related research using gravity monitoring data. Keywordsearthquake–gravity–seismology–China–Wenchuan–geodesy–GIS
    Geo-spatial Information Science 01/2011; 14(1):1-9.