Earthquake Prediction Studies Using Radon as a Precursor in N-W Himalayas, India: A Case Study

Abstract

Many theoretical and empirical algorithms have been proposed in the literature for radon release; however whilst its relation with earthquake occurrence has been developed on occasions, there have been no specific complete studies of this phenomenon. In this study, radon monitoring was carried out using emanometry technique at Palampur and Dalhousie stations in the Kangra valley of Himachal Pradesh (India) from June 1996 to September 1999. Discrete radon concentrations were recorded in soil-gas and groundwater at both the stations. Radon anomalies were correlated with microseismic events recorded along the Main Boundary Thrust (MBT) of N-W Himalaya in the grid (30 - 34°N, 74 - 78°E). The influence of meteorological parameters viz. temperature, rainfall, relative humidity and wind velocity on radon concentration was qualitatively evaluated. The radon exhalation showed positive correlation with temperature, rainfall, relative humidity and negative correlation with wind velocity. Both positive and negative radon anomalies were recorded. The study reveals the precursory nature of radon anomalies and their correlation with microseismic events in 62% of the cases but prediction of earthquakes is yet a remote possibility. From the analysis it has been found that radon anomaly is not only influenced by seismic parameters but also by meteorological parameters and the nature of carrier gases/fluids. To learn more about the phenomenon, simultaneous recording of various gases (He, CO2 , CH4) and meteorological parameters, together with multiple continuous measurements of radon have been suggested.

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