Possible precursor to the March 11, 2011, Japan earthquake: ionospheric perturbations as seen by subionospheric very low frequency/low frequency propagation

Masashi Hayakawa, Yasuhide Hobara, Yoshihiro Yasuda, Hiroki Yamaguchi, Kenji Ohta, Jun Izutsu, Tohru Nakamura


This study reports on a possible very low frequency/low frequency (VLF/LF) subionospheric precursor to a recent earthquake in Japan. As the epicenter of this large Japanese earthquake on March 11, 2011, was located just on the great-circle path from one of our VLF/LF network stations (Chofu) to the NLK US transmitter, we examined the propagation characteristics mainly associated with the signals from the NLK transmitter, as observed at three of the stations in Japan (Chofu, Kasugai and Kochi). On March 5 and 6, 2011, a remarkable anomaly was found on the path from NLK to Chofu, which is highly likely to have been a precursor to this earthquake. The anomaly in the night-time average amplitude at Chofu was characterized by a serious decrease in the signal that exceeded −4v (v: standard deviations). The anomaly was found on the same days on the other propagation paths (from NLK to both Kasugai and Kochi), although it was less enhanced. Finally, this propagation anomaly is extensively discussed with respect to the geomagnetic activity, and we also compare this anomaly with the properties related to the former 2004 Sumatra earthquake that had nearly the same magnitude as this March 11, 2011, earthquake.



Earthquake prediction; Ionospheric perturbation; VLF/LF propagation

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4401/ag-5357
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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X