Intermittent criticality revealed in ULF magnetic fields prior to the 11 March 2011 Tohoku earthquake (MW=9MW=9)

Research paper by Y. Contoyiannis, S.M. Potirakis, K. Eftaxias, M. Hayakawa, A. Schekotov

Indexed on: 18 Mar '16Published on: 02 Feb '16Published in: Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications


The ultra-low-frequency (ULF) magnetic variations recorded prior to the 11 March 2011 Tohoku earthquake (EQ) are analyzed using the method of critical fluctuations (MCF). The first application of this specific method to ULF magnetic variations is performed on the unprocessed H- (horizontal) and Z- (vertical) components, as well as on the unprocessed total intensity, F, of the recorded magnetic field. The motivation for the present study was given by recent research results reporting criticality features in the ULF magnetic fields prior to the 2011 Tohoku EQ. These results call for a further analysis in order to verify the existence of criticality embedded in the specific ULF recordings using an independent method, as well as to investigate the type of the embedded criticality. The application of MCF indeed verifies the existence of criticality in the ULF magnetic fields a few days to one week before the occurrence of the main shock. Specifically, clear signatures of intermittent criticality are found in the recordings of 4 March 2011, while indications of critical behavior are also found in 3 and 6 March recordings, although not of the “stability” of those of 4 March. Moreover, it is found that only the ULF data of the nearest, to the epicenter of the EQ, geomagnetic observatory presented criticality. This finding further corroborates the view that the presented signal is indeed a precursor to the specific EQ.

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