Investigation of Earthquake Signatures on the Ionosphere over Europe

Description

The aim of this project is to conduct an investigation into the lithosphere-atmosphere-ionosphere interaction with respect to earthquake events by exploiting a multi-instrument approach facilitated by existing ionospheric monitoring networks in Europe. The main goal of the research work is to perform an extensive coordinated study of ionospheric phenomena associated with earthquakes and to identify their main types, features and peculiarities of manifestation for different earthquake magnitudes and epicenter locations and depths, in the continental European area. The main target of the project is to investigate the possible correlation of ionospheric perturbations with seismic activity.

Based on observational evidence a series of observational and modelling experiments will be carried out to determine the viability of a ground-based earthquake detection program based on a search for earthquake related ionospheric disturbances. The research will be carried out in close collaboration with the National Institute for Earth Physics (NIEP) in Romania and the Cyprus Geological Department which will provide their valuable expertise concerning earthquake information and interpretation. The rationale of this investigation on behalf of Cyprus scientists is based on the fact that Cyprus lies in a seismically active region attributed to the “Cyprus Arc” which constitutes the tectonic boundary between the African and Eurasian lithospheric plates in the region.

The project will involve the exploitation of the abundance of European dual-frequency GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) networks to monitor seismic signatures as variations of the total electron content (TEC) which constitutes a characteristic ionospheric parameter and also of the INFREP and AWESOME VLF (Very Low Frequency) European networks to monitor seismic signatures as variations on VLF signals from long-distance transmitters. These are already installed at critical measurement sites all over Europe. The monitoring instrumentation will be complemented by the continuous measurements conducted by a digital modern ionosondes providing further information on the ionospheric variability by additional ionospheric parameters. The results and the subsequent analysis of observations will aid towards improved understanding of the coupling mechanisms between lithosphere and upper atmosphere.