News- Research & Collaborate

02 Aug 2017
  • Research

KU, K-opticom to collaborate on earthquake precursor detection (1 June 2017)

On 1 June, a Kyoto University team led by Professor Ken Umeno of the Graduate School of Informatics launched a joint project with K-opticom, an Osaka-based telecom operator, aimed at developing a system for detecting signs of imminent high-magnitude earthquakes.

Earthquake preparedness is a topic of urgent discussion in Japan. Government entities such as the Central Disaster Prevention Council of the Cabinet Office, are warning that powerful quakes are likely to occur along the Nankai Trough (affecting Nankai, Tonankai, and Tokai regions) and beneath the Tokyo Metropolitan Area within the next 30 years, with a probability of 70% or higher.

In these discussions, increasing attention is being given to attempts to detect signs of imminent quakes -- or earthquake precursors -- using methodologies from not only seismology but also from statistics and physics.

Among the researchers who have been investigating such phenomena are Professor Umeno and colleagues. They have been focusing on the anomalies in total electron content (TEC) of the ionosphere. The team has developed a method for detecting such anomalies based on GPS data obtained from multiple observatories before earthquakes. They have also shown that such phenomena had preceded both the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes, and suggested that an ability to identify such anomalies in real time could make it possible to predict magnitude-seven quakes 20 to 60 minutes in advance.

With the goal of developing a viable earthquake precursor detection system based on these findings, the KU-K-opticom team will:

  • Work to establish correlations between strong earthquakes and ionospheric TEC anomalies. This will be done by analyzing past seismic events and corresponding ionospheric conditions using an advanced method, which involves examining data from not just GPS satellites but also other sources
  • Test the feasibility of building a dedicated monitoring network. The team will install receivers for collecting real-time data from the global navigation satellite systems (GNSSs) -- such as global positioning systems (GPS), the Global Navigation Satellite System (GLANASS), Galileo, and quasi-zenith satellites (QZS) -- at KU and K-opticom facilities, and analyze these data
  • Evaluate the viability of using an ionosonde receiver -- a device capable of collecting data on TEC and other ionospheric conditions -- (for oblique incidence measurements) to detect earthquake precursors, by installing and testing one at a KU facility

The team plans to publish the data obtained from these endeavors after a specified period, so as to enable third parties to scientifically assess the technologies.


Aspects of KU-K-opticom collaboration