China's new seismic monitor can predict quakes up to 15 days ahead

Updated 2018-02-09 09:16:07

China will be able to forecast an earthquake 15 days before it happens, as researchers have developed a new seismic monitoring system by detecting electromagnetic disturbance.

"Earthquakes will be detected by a new seismic monitoring system (AETA) capable of detecting earthquakes by capturing earthquake sound and electromagnetic disturbance at least from 1-15 days ahead in the near future," Wang Xin'an, the director of the Peking University's Shenzhen Earthquake Monitoring and Prediction Technology Research Center and also a professor at the Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Nearly 200 such systems have been set up in the past three years, covering regions, including Sichuan, Yunnan, Beijing, Hebei, Guangdong, Taiwan and Tibet. The project received support from national and provincial earthquake administrations.

The monitoring system is placed underground or in a cave, which can capture signals before the earthquake occurs. The AETA is composed of an electromagnetic sensor and small sensing probe for earthquake sound.

Wang, the leading professor behind the project, said that "the system will continue to be deployed in 2018 and 2019 and by then, I believe it would be capable of predicting earthquakes more easily."

"Regional electromagnetic disturbance changes can be detected by arranging one AETA in every 20 kilometers. More equipment will be needed for covering bigger areas. The systyem can temporarily be placed in an area more prone to earthquakes," Wang added.

The AETA system project began in 2010, with the first prototype completed in 2015. The project receives funding from Shenzhen science and technology innovation committee. A Shenzhen-based company, Shenzhen Valley Ventures, also support Wang's team with funding and about 20 engineers.

Each piece of equipment costs 100,000 yuan (,808). A medium-sized county can be covered with 5 to 10 AETAs, Wang told the Global Times.

China has four main methods to predict earthquakes. These are detecting seismic activity, crustal deformation, electromagnetic disturbance and groundwater levels. But the accuracy of current earthquake forecasting is only about 20 out of 100, Sun Shihong, a China Earthquake Networks Center CENC researcher, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Wang's team plans to publish about six papers to introduce the AETA system to the public.

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