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Outgoing terrestrial infrared radiation as an indicator of seismic activity

  • Saint-Petersburg Center for Ecological Safety by Russian Academy of Sciences


An analysis of satellite IR surveys of the earth surface in the wavelength interval from 10.5 to 11.3 μm indicated that a temporally and laterally stable increase in the intensity of the outgoing IR radiation flux, compared with the adjoining blocks, occurs above certain linear structures of the Central Asian seismically active region. Retrospective analysis of a continuous series of outgoing IF flux measurements Asia in 1984 and 1980 indicated that the positive IR radiation anomalies recur sporadically in certain zones of certain large faults. In 1984, most crustal earthquakes that occurred in the zone of the Tamdy-Tokraus fault and had a magnitude 4 or greater resulted in positive IR anomalies at the intersection of this fault with the Talas-Fergana fault. The most striking example of such an activation is the Gazli earthquake of March 19, 1984.
Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR
1988, vol.301, No.1, pp.67-69.
V.I.Gorny, A.G.Salman, A.A.Tronin, B.V.Shilin
The analysis of satellite thermal images (STI) of the Earth's surface within the spectral
range of 10.5-11.3 mcm has shown that over some linear structures of the Middle-Asian
seismically active region (Kopet-Dagh, Talasso-Ferghana and other faults) there is observed a
stable in time and space increasing intensity of the outgoing radiathion flux as compared to
contiguous blocks (Fig.1).
A retrospective analysis of a continuous series (1980 and 1984) of observations of the
outgoing IR radiation flux (daily STI taken before dawn) in the Middle-Asian region has shown
that in certain individual zones of some major tectonic dislocations there appear from time to
time positive anomalies of IR radiation, for instance at the point of intersection of the Talasso-
Ferghana and Tamdy-Tokrauss faults. These anomalies last from 2 to 10 days. The spontaneous
anomalies are characterized by a pulsating variation of area. The space confinement and duration
of these anomalies permit distinguishing theme noise anomalies caused by meteorological
factors. The time of the appearance of these anomalies coincides with the activation of faults
over which there has been detected an increase of the outgoing IR radiation flux. In 1984 the
majority of crustal earthquakes, of a magnitude over 4, in the Tien Shan were accompanied by
the appearance of a positive anomaly of the IR radiation at the point of the intersection of the
Tamdy-Tokrauss fault with that of Talasso-Ferghana. The area of anomalies was several tens of
thousands of square kilometres.
The most outstanding example of such activization is the Ghazli earthquake of March 19,
1984 (magnitude 7.2). At the point of the intersection of the Tamdy-Tokrauss and Talasso-
Ferghana faults there was detected on March 11 a positive anomaly of the outgoing IR radiation
flux of exceptional intensity and enormous area (about 100 thousand (Fig.2).
The subsequent earthquakes in the zone of the Tamdy-Tokrauss fault in the summer of 1984
(July 8, August 5,14, September 27) of the magnitudes from 4.3 to 5.3 were also preceded by the
appearance of a positive anomaly of the outgoing IR radiation at the point of intersection of the
Tamdy-Tokrauss and Talasso-Ferghana faults. Let us review in more detail the development in
time and space of the anomalies of IR radiation at the intersection of the above faults during the
time of their activation in the summer of 1984.
After the earthquake of March 19 there set in a background distribution of the terrestrial
outgoing IR radiation flux (Fig.1). The appearance of a positive anomaly of IR radiation at the
point of intersection of the Talaso-Ferghana and Tamdy-Tokrauss faults was noted only by the
end of July 24. This anomaly developed to the south-west on June 25 and 26 along the Tamdy-
Tokrauss fault. On July 27 the area of the anomaly began diminishing and on July 29 there was
observed a background distribution of the terrestrial outgoing radiation flux. On July 30, August
1 and 2 there was noted the appearance of anomaly over the Tamdy-Tokrauss fault of
inconsiderable area and intensity. On August 3 and 4 there was again observed in the region a
background distribution of the terrestrial outgoing IR radiation flux. On August 5, 1984, there
occurred a 4.3 earthquake in the area of Ghazli within the zone of the Tamdy-Tokrauss fault,
with the epicentre at 40 20' N, 63 35' W.
After the earthquake, between Aug. 6 and 10 there was registered in the region a next
appearance and development of the anomaly of IR radiation at the point of intersection of the
same faults. The maximum area of anomaly was observed on Aug. 7 and 8. Beginning on
Aug. 10, 1984, the distribution in the region of the terrestrial outgoing IR radiation flux acquires
the background state. Upon this appearance of the positive anomaly of the outgoing IR
radiation there followed on Aug. 14, 1984, 5.3 and 4.9 earthquakes in the Ghazli area that were
genetically connected with the Tamdy-Tokrauss fault (Fig. 3)
The anomalies of the outgoing IR radiation in the zone of the Talasso-Ferghana fault appear
not only prior to the earthquakes connected with the Tamdy-Tokrauss fault, but also prior to the
earthquakes with epicenters in the southern spurs of the Tien Shan. The dynamics of the
development in space and time of the outgoing IR radiation flux anomalies are similar to the
instances cited above. It should be emphasized that the anomalies of IR radiation in the zone of
the Talasso-Ferghana fault proceed only the crustal earthquakes of magnitudes over 4.3.
Similar positive anomalies of the terrestrial outgoing IR radiation flux were discovered in
another region of seismic activity - in the Eastern Mediterranean. Here the anomalies of IR
radiation were registered in the coastal zone (up to 300 km) on the boundary between Lybia and
Egypt. These anomalies appear on the extension of the Hellenic deformation system of disloca-
tions within the African platform, as well as over faults of the anti-Mediterranean direction in the
area from the Nile delta to the Gulf of Sidra. The anomalies of IR radiation are especially distinct
in this area prior to the earthquakes genetically connected with the Hellenic arch. It should be
emphasized that the anomalies can appear at places considerably distant from the epicenters of
the earthquakes connected with them.
The connection of the anomalies of the outgoing IR radiation over active fault zones with
the time of their activation poses the problem of the nature of the appearance of such anomalies.
The relatively high velocity of the formation and development of the anomalies, their
intensity reaching a few degrees, as well as the area of their development encompassing from a
few up to several thousand square kilometers, deny any opportunity for connecting these
anomalies directly with the processes of transformation of the mechanical energy into the
thermal one in the course of maturation of an earthquake. Possible the nature of these anomalies
is connected with the changes in the composition and concentration of gaseous foreign matter in
the layers of atmosphere close to the earth over active faults. It is known [1-5] that active
structures of the Earth's crust are characterized by high emanations of such gases as H , CO , CO
, CH , PH , Rn and other compounds. Changes in the gaseous composition of the atmosphere can
result in different effects. One of these is the greenhouse effect [6]. For instance, an increase by
an order (in comparison with the normal) of the content of such gases as CO , CH in the
ground layer of atmosphere 2000 m high can result in an increase of temperature at the surfase of
the Earth by a few degrees, this corresponding to the intensity of the observed anomalies of the
terrestrial outgoing IR radiation flux over active structures of Middle Asia and some other
seismically active region. Moreover, in seismically active regions there are known facts of the
increase of the concentration of these gases by 1-2 orders in the near-surface layer of atmosphere
at the times of seismic activity [4,7].
It is quite possible that gases can be luminescent if the near-surface layers of atmosphere
within the range of IR similarly to luminescence of the atmosphere observed in the focus zones
of some earthquake [8].
O.Yu.Schmidt Institute of the Physics of the Earth
of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Moscow.
The All-Union Research Institute of Remote
Sensing Methods in Geology, of Satellite Airborne
Methods, Leningrad.
1. Sugisaki R., Anno H. et al. - Geochim.J., 1980, N 14, p.101-110.
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3. Osika D.C. The Fluid Regime of Seismically Active Regions. M., Nauka, 1981.
4. Petrenko V.I. - Sov. Geol., 1982, N 2, p.116-124.
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Earthquakes". M.; Nauka, 1984, p.129-155.
6. Kondratiev K.Ya., Moskalenko N.I. Grenhouse Effect of the Atmosphere and the Climate. L.;
Gydrometeoizdat, 1984.
7. Golubev O.A. In a book "Hydrogeochemical Investigations on Prognostic Polygons". Alma-
Ata; Nauka, 1983, p.30-32.
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10. Kissin I.G. In a book "Hydrogeodynamical Forerunners of Earthquakes". M.; Nauka, 1984,
Fig.1 The thermal IR image of NOAA-9 satellite. Background distribution of the terrestrial
outgoing IR radiation flux at night in the Middle-Asian seismically active region (image
in the spectral range of 10.5-11.3 , scale 1:25 000 000). Faults: I-I - Dzhalair-Naiman,
II-II - Talasso-Ferghana, III-III - Tamdy-Tokrauss, IV-IV - prior to Kopet-Dagh.
Fig.2 The thermal IR image of NOAA-9 satellite on March 11, 1984 before the Ghazli
earthquake of March 19, 1984 ( M=7.2 ) IR anomaly is indicated by arrows.
Fig.3 The thermal IR images of NOAA-9 satellite on: a) August 6, 1984; b) August 8, 1984; c)
August 15, 1984. IR anomalies are indicated by arrows.
Fig.4 Summarized, by months, area of IR anomalies for the period of observations (top)
1979 (7 months), 1980 (4), 1984 (3), 1985 (4), 1986 (3), 1987 (5). Summarized, by
months, seismic activity in Tien Shan for the same period (bottom).
Доклады АН СССР, т. 301, №1, 1988 г., сс. 67-69.
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Earthquake is a common and destructive natural disaster. The enormous amount of energy released from seismic events can result in anomalous land surface temperature (LST) and catalyze the accumulation of water vapor in the atmosphere. The majority of previous works are not consensual concerning precipitable water vapor (PWV) and LST after the earthquake. Here, we utilized multi-source data to analyze the changes of PWV and LST anomaly after three Ms 4.0-5.3 crustal earthquakes at low depth (8-9 km) that occurred in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Firstly, PWV retrieval using Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology is performed, showing that its root mean square error (RMSE) is less than 1.8 mm against radiosonde (RS) data or European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Reanalysis 5 (ERA5) PWV data. The PWV change derived from the nearest GNSS stations around the hypocenter during the earthquakes shows anomalies, and the results reveal that PWV anomalies occurred after the earthquakes, mainly obeying a trend of increasing first and then decreasing. In addition, LST increases three days before PWV peak with a thermal anomaly of 12 °C higher than that of previous days. Robust Satellite Technique (RST) algorithm and ALICE index on Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) LST products are introduced to analyze the correlation between the abnormality of LST and PWV. Based on ten-year background field data (2012-2021), the results show that LST during the earthquake has more thermal anomaly occurrences than in previous years. The more severe the LST thermal anomaly is, the higher the probability of a PWV peak occurring.
... Satellite-based LST is retrieved using Thermal Infrared (TIR) bands of the sensors (Sekertekin et al., 2016;Sekertekin and Arslan, 2019;Sekertekin and Bonafoni, 2020). The first time of analyzing thermal anomalies prior to earthquakes dates back to late 1980s (Gornyy et al., 1988). A thermal anomaly is an abnormal increase in LST that occurs around 1-10 days prior to an earthquake with increases in the temperature of the order of 3-12 � C or more and usually disappears a few days after the event . ...
This study aims to investigate the behaviors of the potential earthquake precursors such as Total Electron Content (TEC), daytime/nighttime Land Surface Temperature (LST) and aerosols before and after the 2013 Mw 7.7 Awaran (Pakistan) earthquake. TEC values were obtained from Global Positioning System (GPS) measurements, and LST and aerosol values were retrieved from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites, respectively. In order to detect the anomalies, moving median method was used in TEC analyses and ±2σ (95% confidence level) interval was utilized in LST and Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) analyses as anomaly indicator. TEC anomalies were identified 3 days (21.09.2013) and 5 days (19.09.2013) before the earthquake. In daytime/nighttime LST analyses, three regions of interest for spatial analyses were determined including epicenter, 10 km impact area around the epicenter and Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) 7.5 contour which was presented in the United States Geological Survey (USGS)'s shake map. Different anomalous days of LST were observed from these three regions of interest. In AOD analysis, only MMI 7.5 contour was considered due to its low spatial resolution (10 × 10km pixel size). The anomaly in AOD values was observed on 29.09.2013, 5 days after the earthquake. However, the abnormal behavior of AOD on 21.09.2013 was consistent with GPS-TEC anomaly. Furthermore, considering daytime/nighttime LST values on epicenter and 10 km impact area, we observed a systematic increase culminated near the earthquake event and a decrease after the earthquake. On the contrary, a systematic decrease and then increase of the AOD values were identified. The obtained results showed that TEC, LST and AOD were important potential precursors for Earthquake prediction; however, further developments on methods, data types and statistical analyses are still required.
... Since the 1970s, remote sensing technology has been applied to seismic monitoring. In the 1980s, thermal infrared (TIR) satellite data were used for the first time to analyze thermal anomalies prior to earthquakes (Gorny et al., 1988;Tronin, 1996). Earthquake monitoring based on passive or active remote sensing data is considered a promising research area by the international seismology and remote sensing community (Tronin, 2010), having the advantages of interdisciplinary research and being a new exploratory technology and tool. ...
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There are several reports about thermal anomalies associated with the impending earthquakes (EQs); among which the underlying mechanism is linked with the main shock with long, intermediate and short-term precursors. In this paper, we analyzed thermal anomalies from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) based Land Surface Temperature (LST) of three different magnitudes and shallow depth EQs in Pakistan. Our focus is to investigate the thermal anomalies by the statistical approach and Artificial Neural Network (ANN) in spatial and temporal LST values within 10 days before and after the main shock as short-term precursors. After implementing statistical and the ANN approach, LST revealed that thermal anomalies occurred within 1–10 days before the main shock of Mw > 6.0 EQs. However, a low intensity LST anomaly is also recorded within 20–25 days before the main shock of Mw 5.2 EQ. We study that LST anomalies are magnitude and depth dependent and it is more likely to occur before EQ of Mw > 6.0 and shallow depth within 10 days before/after the main shock day. The results depict that Mw 5.2 EQ anomaly is not clearly associated to the main shock, as it locates outside the window of 1–10 days before/after the main shock. Similarly, two out of three events caused post-seismic thermal anomalies of less magnitude as compared to the pre-seismic thermal anomalies. The pre-seismic LST anomalies occur with high intensity before shallow depth and large magnitude EQs than post seismic LST anomalies. The LST anomalies occurred before all the EQs suggesting it to be a reliable precursor of short to intermediate interval associated with an impending EQ.
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Taking the 2017 Mw6.5 Jiuzhaigou earthquake as a case study, ionospheric disturbances (i.e., total electron content and TEC) and thermal infrared (TIR) anomalies were simultaneously investigated. The characteristics of the temperature of brightness blackbody (TBB), medium-wave infrared brightness (MIB), and outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) were extracted and compared with the characteristics of ionospheric TEC. We observed different relationships among the three types of TIR radiation according to seismic or aseismic conditions. A wide range of positive TEC anomalies occurred southern to the epicenter. The area to the south of the Huarong mountain fracture, which contained the maximum TEC anomaly amplitudes, overlapped one of the regions with notable TIR anomalies. We observed three stages of increasing TIR radiation, with ionospheric TEC anomalies appearing after each stage, for the first time. There was also high spatial correspondence between both TIR and TEC anomalies and the regional geological structure. Together with the time series data, these results suggest that TEC anomaly genesis might be related to increasing TIR.
  • H Wakita
  • Y Nakamura
Wakita H., Nakamura Y. et al. -Science, 1980, vol.210, p.188-190.
  • V I Petrenko
  • Sov
Petrenko V.I. -Sov. Geol., 1982, N 2, p.116-124.
  • G I Voitov
  • A U Abduvaliev
Voitov G.I., Abduvaliev A.U. et al. In a book "Hydrogeodynamic Forerunners of Earthquakes". M.; Nauka, 1984, p.129-155.
Grenhouse Effect of the Atmosphere and the Climate. L.; Gydrometeoizdat
  • K Kondratiev
  • Ya
  • N Moskalenko
Kondratiev K.Ya., Moskalenko N.I. Grenhouse Effect of the Atmosphere and the Climate. L.; Gydrometeoizdat, 1984.
In a book "Hydrogeodynamical Forerunners of Earthquakes
  • I G Kissin
Kissin I.G. In a book "Hydrogeodynamical Forerunners of Earthquakes". M.; Nauka, 1984, p.3-30.