Changes in animal activity prior to a major (M = 7) earthquake in the Peruvian Andes

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Physics and Chemistry of the Earth
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Grant R.A.
Raulin J.P.
Freund F.T.
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© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.During earthquake preparation geophysical processes occur over varying temporal and spatial scales, some leaving their mark on the surface environment, on various biota, and even affecting the ionosphere. Reports on pre-seismic changes in animal behaviour have been greeted with scepticism by the scientific community due to the necessarily anecdotal nature of much of the evidence and a lack of consensus over possible causal mechanisms. Here we present records of changes in the abundance of mammals and birds obtained over a 30 day period by motion-triggered cameras at the Yanachaga National Park, Peru, prior to the 2011 magnitude 7.0 Contamana earthquake. In addition we report on ionospheric perturbations derived from night-time very low frequency (VLF) phase data along a propagation paths passing over the epicentral region. Animal activity declined significantly over a 3-week period prior to the earthquake compared to periods of low seismic activity. Night-time ionospheric phase perturbations of the VLF signals above the epicentral area, fluctuating over the course of a few minutes, were observed, starting 2 weeks before the earthquake. The concurrent observation of two widely different and seemingly unconnected precursory phenomena is of interest because recently, it has been proposed that the multitude of reported pre-earthquake phenomena may arise from a single underlying physical process: the stress-activation of highly mobile electronic charge carriers in the Earth's crust and their flow to the Earth's surface. The flow of charge carriers through the rock column constitutes an electric current, which is expected to fluctuate and thereby emit electromagnetic radiation in the ultralow frequency (ULF) regime. The arrival of the charge carriers can lead to air ionization at the ground-to-air interface and the injection of massive amounts of positive airborne ions, known to be aversive to animals.
Assuntos Scopus
Animal behaviour , Earthquake prediction , Ground-to-air interface , Ionospheric anomalies , Ionospheric perturbation , Surface environments , Temporal and spatial scale , Ultra low frequencies
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