Earthquake Science

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 513–521 | Cite as

Statistical analysis of the ion density measured by the satellite DEMETER in relation with the seismic activity

  • Michel Parrot


This paper is related to study of the ion density recorded by the low altitude satellite DEMETER. It will present ionospheric perturbations observed during large seismic events. As the ionosphere is highly variable, the paper will show a statistical analysis performed on the plasma parameters during night time. An algorithm has been implemented to detect crests and troughs in the data before world-wide earthquakes. The earthquakes have been classified depending on their magnitude, depth, and location (land, below the sea, close to a coast). Due to the orbit, DEMETER returns above the same area every day (once during day time, once during night time) but not at the same distance of a given epicenter. Then, for each earthquake, data have been checked until 15 days before the shock when the distance between the trace of the orbit and the epicenter is less than 1 500 km. The results of the statistical analysis are presented as functions of various parameters. A comparison is done with two other databases where, on one hand, the location of the epicenters has been randomly modified, and on the other hand, the longitude of the epicenters has been shifted. Results show that the number and the intensity of the ionospheric perturbations are larger prior to earthquakes than prior to random events, and that the perturbations increase with the magnitude.

Key words

ionosphere earthquake satellite statistic 

CLC number



  1. Akhoondzadeh M, Parrot M and Saradjian M R (2010). Electron and ion density variations before strong earthquakes (M>6.0) using DEMETER and GPS data. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci10: 7–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bankov L G, Parrot M, Heelis R A, Berthelier J-J, Marinov P G and Vassileva A K (2010). DEMETER and DMSP satellite observations of the disturbed H+/O+ ratio caused by Earth’s seismic activity in the Sumatra area during December 2004. Adv Space Res46(4): 419–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Berthelier J-J, Godefroy M, Leblanc F, Seran E, Peschard D, Gilbert P and Artru J (2006). IAP, the thermal plasma analyzer on DEMETER. Planet Space Sci54: 487–501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Burke W J, de La Beaujardière O, Gentile L C, Hunton D E, Pfaff R F, Roddy P A, Su Y-J and Wilson G R (2009). C/NOFS observations of plasma density and electric field irregularities at post-midnight local times. Geophys Res Lett36: L00C09, doi:10.1029/2009GL038879.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Freund F (2009). Stress-activated positive hole charge carriers in rocks and the generation of pre-earthquake signals. In: Hayakawa M ed. Electromagnetic Phenomena Associated With Earthquakes. Transworld Research Network, Trivandrum (India), 41–96.Google Scholar
  6. Gokhberg M B, Morgounov V A and Pokhotelov O A (1995). Earthquake Prediction: Seismo-Electromagnetic Phenomena. Gordon and Breach Science Publishers, Reading, Philadelphia, 287pp.Google Scholar
  7. Harrison R G, Aplin K L and Rycroft M J (2010). Atmospheric electricity coupling between earthquake regions and the ionosphere. J Atmos Sol Terrestr Phys72: 376–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hayakawa M (1996). Special issue: Seismo-electromagnetic phenomena. Journal of Atmospheric Electricity16(3): 247–257.Google Scholar
  9. Hayakawa M (1997). Electromagnetic Precursors of Earthquakes: Review of Recent Activities. Review of Radio Science, 1993–1996. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 807–818.Google Scholar
  10. Hayakawa M ed. (1999). Atmospheric and Ionospheric Electromagnetic Phenomena Associated with Earthquakes. Terra Scientific Publishing Company (TERRAPUB), Tokyo, 997pp.Google Scholar
  11. Hayakawa M ed. (2002). Seismo-electromagnetics. J Atmos Electricity22(3): 115–222.Google Scholar
  12. Hayakawa M (2009). Electromagnetic Phenomena Associated With Earthquakes. Transworld Research Network, Trivandium (India), 279pp.Google Scholar
  13. Hayakawa M and Fujinawa Y (1994). Electromagnetic Phenomena Related to Earthquake Prediction. TERRAPUB, Tokyo, 677pp.Google Scholar
  14. Hayakawa M and Molchanov O A eds. (2002). Seismo Electromagnetics: Lithosphere-Atmosphere-Ionosphere Coupling. TERRAPUB, Tokyo, 477pp.Google Scholar
  15. Hayakawa M, Molchanov O A, Kodama T, Afonin V V and Akentieva O A (2000). Plasma density variations observed on a satellite possibly related to seismicity. Adv Space Res26(8): 1 277–1 280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hayakawa M, Molchanov O A, Biagi P and Vallianatos F eds. (2004). Seismo electromagnetics and related phenomena. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth29: 287–662.Google Scholar
  17. He Y F, Yang D M, Zhu R, Qian J D and Parrot M (2010). Variations of electron density and temperature in iono sphere based on the DEMETER ISL data. Earthquake Science23(4): 349–355, doi:10.1007/s11589-010-0732-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kelley M C (2009). The Earth’s Ionosphere: Plasma Physics and Electrodynamics. Academic Press, San Diego, 556pp.Google Scholar
  19. Lebreton J P, Stverak S, Travnicek P, Maksimovic M, Klinge D, Merikallio S, Lagoutte D, Poirier B, Kozacek Z and Salaquarda M (2006). The ISL Langmuir probe experiment and its data processing onboard DEMETER: Scientific objectives, description and first results. Planet Space Sci54: 472–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Liu J Y, Chen Y I, Chuo Y J and Chen C S (2006). A statistical investigation of pre-earthquake ionospheric anomaly. J Geophys Res111: A05304, doi:10. 1029/2005JA011333.Google Scholar
  21. Molchanov O A (1993). Wave and plasma phenomena inside the ionosphere and magnetosphere associated with earthquakes. In: Ross Stone W ed. Review of Radio Science 1990–1992. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 591–600.Google Scholar
  22. Molchanov O A and Hayakawa M (2008). Seismo-Electromagnetics and Related Phenomena: History and Latest Results. TERRAPUB, Tokyo, 189pp.Google Scholar
  23. Nemec F, Santolík O and Parrot M (2009). Decrease of intensity of ELF/VLF waves observed in the upper ionosphere close to earthquakes: A statistical study. J Geophys Res114: A04303, doi:10.1029/2008JA013972.Google Scholar
  24. Nemec F, Santolík O, Parrot M and Berthelier J-J (2008). Spacecraft observations of electromagnetic perturbations connected with seismic activity. Geophys Res Lett35: L05109, doi:10.1029/2007GL032517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ouyang X Y, Zhang X M, Shen X H, Liu J, Qian J D, Cai J A and Zhao S F (2008). Ionospheric Ne disturbances before 2007 Pu’er, Yunnan, China, earthquake. Acta Seismologica Sinica21(4): 425–437, doi:10. 1007/s11589-008-0425-8.Google Scholar
  26. Parrot M ed. (2006). Special Issue: First Results of the DEMETER Micro-satellite. Planet Space Sci54(5): 411–558.Google Scholar
  27. Parrot M, Berthelier J-J, Lebreton J P, Sauvaud J A, Santolík O and Blecki J (2006). Examples of unusual ionospheric observations made by the DEMETER satellite over seismic regions. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth31: 486–495, doi:10.1016/j.pce.2006.02.011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Parrot M and Johnston M (1989). Special Issue: Seismoelectromagnetic Effects. Phys Earth Planet Inter57(1–2): 1–177.Google Scholar
  29. Parrot M and Johnston M (1993). Special Issue: Seismoelectromagnetic Effects. Phys Earth Planet Inter77(1–2): 1–141.Google Scholar
  30. Písa D, Parrot M and Santolík O (2011). Ionospheric density variations recorded before the 2010 MW8.8 earthquake in Chile. J Geophys Res116: A08309, doi:10.1029/2011JA016611.Google Scholar
  31. Pulinets S A (2007). Natural radioactivity, earthquakes, and the ionosphere. Eos Trans AGU88(20): 217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pulinets S A (2009). Physical mechanism of the vertical electric field generation over active tectonic faults. Adv Space Res44(6): 767–773, doi:10.1016/j.asr.2009.04.038.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pulinets S A and Boyarchuk K A (2004). Ionospheric Precursors of Earthquakes. Springer, Hedelberg, New York, 316pp.Google Scholar
  34. Sarkar S, Gwal A K and Parrot M (2007). Ionospheric variations observed by the DEMETER satellite in the midlatitude region during strong earthquakes. J Atmos Sol Terr Phys69: 1 524–1 540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Su S Y, Liu C H, Ho H H and Chao C K (2006). Distribution characteristics of topside ionospheric density irregularities: Equatorial versus midlatitude regions. J Geophys Res111: A06305, doi:10.1029/2005JA011330.Google Scholar
  36. Su Y Z, Bailey G J and Oyama K I (1998). Annual and seasonal variations in the low-latitude topside ionosphere. Ann Geophys16(8): 974–985.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Tronin A A (2006). Remote sensing and earthquakes: A review. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth31: 138–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Zeng Z C, Zhang B, Fang G Y, Wang D F and Yin H J (2009). The analysis of ionospheric variations before Wenchuan earthquake with DEMETER data. Chinese J Geophys52(1): 11–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Zhang X, Shen X, Liu J, Ouyang X, Qian J, and Zhao S (2009c). Analysis of ionospheric plasma perturbations before Wenchuan earthquake. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci9: 1 259–1 266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Zhang X, Zeren Z, Parrot M, Battiston R, Qian J and Shen X (2011). ULF/ELF ionospheric electric field and plasma perturbations related to Chile earthquakes Adv Space Res47(6): 991–1 000, doi:10.1016/j.asr.2010.11.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Zhang X M, Liu J, Shen X H, Parrot M, Qian J D, Ouyang X Y, Zhao S F and Huang J P (2010b). Ionospheric perturbations associated with theM8.6 Sumatra earthquake on 28 March 2005. Chinese J Geophys53(3): 567–575.Google Scholar
  42. Zhang X M, Qian J D, Ouyang X Y, Shen X H, Cai J A and Zhao S F (2009a). Ionospheric electromagnetic perturbations observed on DEMETER satellite before Chile M7.9 earthquake. Earthquake Science22: 251–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Zhang X M, Qian J D, Ouyang X Y, Cai J A, Liu J, Shen X H and Zhao S F (2009b). Ionospheric electro-magnetic disturbances prior to Yutian 7.2 earthquake in Xinjiang. Chin J Space Sci29(2): 213–221 (in Chinese with English abstract).Google Scholar
  44. Zhang X M, Shen X H, Liu J, Ouyang X Y, Qian J D and Zhao S F (2010a). Ionospheric perturbations of electron density before the Wenchuan earthquake. International Journal of Remote Sensing31(13): 3 559–3 569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Zhu R, Yang D M, Jing F, Yang J Y and Ouyang X Y (2008). Ionospheric perturbations before Pu’er earthquake observed on DEMETER. Acta Seismologica Sinica21(1): 77–81, doi:10.1007/s11589-008-0077-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Zlotnicki J, Li F and Parrot M (2010). Signals recorded by DEMETER satellite over active volcanoes during the period 2004 August-2007 December. Geophys J Inter183(3): 1 332–1 347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Seismological Society of China and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire de Physique et Chimie de l’Environnement et de l’EspaceUniversité d’Orléans, CNRSOrléans cedex 2France

Personalised recommendations