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Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 20, issue 5
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 20, 771-792, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 20, 771-792, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 17 Oct 2013

Research article | 17 Oct 2013

Current challenges for pre-earthquake electromagnetic emissions: shedding light from micro-scale plastic flow, granular packings, phase transitions and self-affinity notion of fracture process

K. Eftaxias1 and S. M. Potirakis2 K. Eftaxias and S. M. Potirakis
  • 1Department of Physics, Section of Solid State Physics, University of Athens, Panepistimiopolis, 15784, Zografos, Athens, Greece
  • 2Department of Electronics Engineering, Technological Education Institute (TEI) of Piraeus, 250 Thivon & P. Ralli, 12244, Aigaleo, Athens, Greece

Abstract. Are there credible electromagnetic (EM) potential earthquake (EQ) precursors? This a question debated in the scientific community and there may be legitimate reasons for the critical views. The negative view concerning the existence of EM potential precursors is enhanced by features that accompany their observation which are considered as paradox ones, namely, these signals: (i) are not observed at the time of EQs occurrence and during the aftershock period, (ii) are not accompanied by large precursory strain changes, (iii) are not accompanied by simultaneous geodetic or seismological precursors and (iv) their traceability is considered problematic. In this work, the detected candidate EM potential precursors are studied through a shift in thinking towards the basic science findings relative to granular packings, micron-scale plastic flow, interface depinning, fracture size effects, concepts drawn from phase transitions, self-affine notion of fracture and faulting process, universal features of fracture surfaces, recent high quality laboratory studies, theoretical models and numerical simulations. We try to contribute to the establishment of strict criteria for the definition of an emerged EM anomaly as a possibly EQ-related one, and to the explanation of potential precursory EM features which have been considered as paradoxes. A three-stage model for EQ generation by means of pre-EQ fracture-induced EM emissions is proposed. The claim that the observed EM potential precursors may permit a real-time and step-by-step monitoring of the EQ generation is tested.

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