Have you ever wondered how people could predict earthquakes? How we can prevent lives from being lost?
Although we don’t have exact ways to predict earthquakes, there have been many ideas. One widely accepted and proven theory is that animals may show insight in doing so.
“I was always scared that scientists couldn’t accurately predict earthquakes,” said Christy Yoon, a sophomore at a Palos Verdes high school. “I think it’s amazing that any dog or cat out on the street even could show signs that prepare me for such a disaster.”
When underground stress is built up within rocks, energy is released in the form of seismic waves. This causes activation of p-holes, which release bountiful amounts of positive ions. Because of the positive charges, the air becomes ionized, and animals experience an increase in the neurotransmitter, serotonin. This increase in serotonin leads to stress and other strange behaviors in animals, which can help predict earthquakes.
Plate tectonics describe motions within the Earth’s crust that create earthquake belts. The sudden release of tension is given off through both body and surface waves, resulting in a quake. These “tectonic stresses” can also be built when two moving plates push against each other and are responsible for the release of positive holes onto the earth’s surface. Increased levels of stress activate these fast and far-travelling electric charge carriers called positive holes. The stress within the rocks are responsible for the changes of atoms within the rock, such as oxygen, into a much more positively charged atom. As the p-holes travel up to the surface through rock, these positively charged carriers take electrons away from the rocks, forming an electric field on the surface.
“Although most individuals would consider earthquakes as only physics, there is so much chemistry and biology involved, as seen with this topic,” said James McManus, a science tutor in Palos Verdes. “Tension within rocks release numerous chemicals, and such atoms trigger different reactions in organisms.” Positive ions can travel quickly at the rate of 20-30 meters/second in the atmosphere even up to the ionospheric zone, which is 85-600 km in altitude. This dramatic increase in electronic density can cause instability within the ionosphere, leading to the “serotonin syndrome.”
Although it is considered a “happy chemical” when there is just the necessary amount of it, an excess of serotonin can cause this toxic syndrome, which occurs as a result of the dramatic increase in positive ions. Unhealthy results, such as tension, anxiety, stress, agitation, and tremors occur in animals. Due to the stress, animals often flee the site of abnormal behaviors, since they feel the change and know that whatever happens next will only negatively affect them.
However, strange animal behavior does not always mean there is an impending earthquake. Instead, animal behavior can be used as an indicator to check for abnormal changes within the ionosphere, therefore allowing us to check for earthquakes.