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Israeli scholars: Dead Sea study suggests ‘valid’ earthquake forecast

Prior to earthquakes, electromagnetic radiation decreases in volume but become more intense, the researchers wrote.

Earthquake. Credit: DhitoArdjiono/Pixabay.
Earthquake. Credit: DhitoArdjiono/Pixabay.

Studying electromagnetic radiation in the vicinity of the Dead Sea at the time of a 6.3-magnitude aftershock, felt in Turkey and Syria on Feb. 20, suggests a “valid” way to forecast earthquakes, Israeli researchers found.

The five scholars—who are from the civil engineering department at Sami Shamoon College of Engineering in Ashdod, and the physics and the earth and environmental sciences departments at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev—looked at measurements called fracture-induced electromagnetic radiation (FEMR) along a fault system stretching some 600 miles from the Red Sea to Turkey.

The Feb. 20 aftershock was one of many that followed a 7.8-magnitude earthquake on Feb. 6, 2023, in Turkey and parts of Syria that killed about 60,000 people, displaced some 3 million and caused an estimated $40 billion in damage.

The researchers found that electromagnetic radiation decreases in volume but becomes more intense leading up to an earthquake, “signifying the merging of fractures into larger units—a potential signal of an impending catastrophe,” they wrote.

The quintet published its results on Feb. 25 in Scientific Reports, part of the suite of publications that includes Nature.

“Together, these results show the feasibility of FEMR measurements as a valid forecast of earthquake catastrophes,” they wrote.

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