Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Plankton Indicators of Eathquakes?

I came across this information in passing which struck me as both fascinating and potentially useful. It is that blooms of plankton have been found to increase as a precursory response to earthquakes. The phenomenon is apparent from satellite images of ocean coastal areas close to the epicentres of four recent earthquakes. The blooming of the plankton is thought to be due to increases in chlorophyll, which they use as an essential part of their photosynthetic (light-harvesting) apparatus to provide the energy for them to grow.

It is speculated that the increase in chlorophyll is a result of a rise in temperature of the waters due to a release of heat energy immediately before an earthquake occurs. Concomitantly, there is an upwelling of cold water from the ocean depths, high in nutrients, to the surface. A combination of warmth and nourishment conspires to raise specifically concentrations of chlorophyll-a. It is interesting that one of the two common isomers of chlorophyll should be selected, over the other, namely chlorophyll-b. In nature, the two kinds of chlorophyll have different absorption wavelengths and the overlap of their absorption bands effectively widens the window of energy through which light can be harvested by plants, resulting in a greater photosynthetic efficiency.

As tectonic plates grind together, energy is released, thus thermally coupling the land and the sea and creating suitable conditions to encourage plankton growth. Dr Ramesh Singh, from the Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur, said:

"I do not think scientists expected such anomalous behaviour of chlorophyll-a. If the epicentre of a quake lies very close to the coast, then anomalous chlorophyll-a concentrations are clearly visible along that coast."

For their study, the researchers chose four earthquakes: Gujarat, India, in 2001; Algeria, in 2002; the Andaman Islands, in 2002; Bam, Iran, in 2003. On the basis of satellite images and measurements of sea-temperatures, they noted a correspondence between peaks in chlorophyll concentration and an impending earthquake.

It is debatable just how much advance warning the method can provide, which seems to depend mainly on the precise distance from the epicentre and also on the ocean depth, but it is argued that the combined measurement of seawater temperature may provide an alternative means to detect an impending quake on those occasions when cloud-cover prevents good satellite measurements being made.

Related Reading.


Yorkshireminer said...

Kanpur, don't you mean Cawnpore to give its original English spelling. Cawnpore was the site of one of the most bestial slaughters of women and children. Well British women and children so they don't really matter, during the Indian Mutiny, or the first war of Indian independence to give it its correct P.C. title, perpetrated by the way by mutineers of the religion of peace. I will not exhault, them by calling them freedom fighters. Chis, come on you can do better than this, There might be a relationship but it seem too me to be so tenuous that it is up there with a butterfly flaps it wings in the Amazon and New Orleans get wiped off the map by a hurricane. In every dynamic system there are positive and negative feed back loops, how if Hell or Gods name to be blasphemous, do we decide which is in the ascendancy, positive the shit hit the fan negative nothing happens. During the Roman times I gather they produced a nice white wine from the vineyards of Yorkshire. There is no way I would have invested in them during the 17th century during the little ice age. Now I gather the vintage coming out of Holmfirth isn't too bad. How the hell do we know that the temperature difference between the Roman times and the little ice age was caused by the natural absorbance of Co2 out of the atmosphere causing more heat to be lost and therefore lowering the temperature. Under modern reasoning that would seem to be the cause. I would also like to know why the destruction of 50-60 million farting buffaloes from the great plains during the later part of the 19th century, that must have saved millions of cubic meters of methane being pumped into the atmosphere surely that would have contributed to global cooling but it seem that it didn't. Most likely compensated by the burning of coal in the industrializing west. All this seems to me to be guessametrics ( I have just invented that word, has a nice ring too it don't you think?) Chris we are hitting the wall because we are running out of cheap affordable energy, and no amount of esoteric data relating to whether algae bloom portends an earthquake will make one bit of difference. Using Occam's razor the flushing of phosphates and other chemicals from our industrial farming methods would more likely contribute to the growth of algae than any of this rubbish, sorry to be crude, but my guess would be that the Mississippi delta and the surrounding sea would look like a bowling green from outer space and there has not been an earth quake in that area since 1819 if my memory serves me correctly. Surprisingly the area where I live on the boarders of Germany is subject to quiet a few. The last one nearly 15 years ago registered nearly 5 on the Richter scale, the doors rattled and a mirror fell off the wall and broke and there wasn't a sign of algae on my pond.
I am certainly not trying to facetious but I think some of the crap that is being put out as fact is nothing more than crap. I am certain that Al Gore has a small part of the picture, but no where near the whole, if he has 5% that is the maximum. It doesn't mean that I am anti Al gore and his message and repudiate what he has to say. Common sense tells me that abiding by his principles is going to be a win win situation. Any society that reduces its pollution is not going to have to use the extra wealth produced to clean up the problems producing that wealth.

Deep regards


energybalance said...

He He Dave, you make me chuckle.... feeling better now!

You are right about Cawnpore and that atrocity there. But as you know it's not Bombay any more either.

I merely point out this latest piece of research which is begging for more funding. (note the question mark in the title and all implied irony).

Otherwise, you are repeating exactly what I've been saying about the oil problem being the most threatening and not CO2 per se.

Civilization will fall first on the grounds of running out of cheap liquid fuel for transportation, rather than anthropogenically produced CO2/global warming/climate change.

Deep regards,