SEMEP Objectives

The overall goal of SEMEP was the development of methodologies that could provide information leading to possible short-term forecasting of the occurrence of earthquakes. A joint satellite and ground-based analysis covering two different seismic zones increases the chance of finding electromagnetic perturbations related to different geophysical conditions. In order to reach this goal the following four major scientific objectives were identified:

  1. The diagnostics of electromagnetic ionospheric perturbations above seismo-active regions and their correlation with ground VLF/LF observations were used to advance our understanding of the coupling between the solid earth and the ionosphere prior to the occurrence of earthquakes.
  2. The development of physical models that explain the associated seismo-electromagnetic turbulence identified in satellite data.
  3. The identification of reliable signatures for the precursor phases of earthquakes based on temporal and spatial variations of the signal parameters obtained from multi-station VLF/LF measurements in Europe and the Far East. This improves our knowledge of the physics of earthquake precursors and has enabled the development of practical methods for the short-term forecast of strong earthquakes.
  4. The investigation of the convective mechanism for the generation of gravity waves in the Earth's atmosphere. Theoretical investigation of the coupling of large scale atmospheric structures with ionospheric perturbations.

The realisation these objectives resulted in the following activities:

The project was broken down into six scientific work packages corresponding to the type of data used and methods applied to their analysis. The work packages WP1-WP4 were related to satellite data analysis, WP5 concerned base-ground observations, and WP6 covered theoretical investigations of the coupling between Earth's lithosphere, atmosphere and ionosphere.

This strategy ensured that each of the individual workpackages delivered major advances while the collective effort across WPs remained focused on integration to achieve the main objectives of the project.

The participants of the SEMEP project have accumulated substantial experience in study of earthquake related phenomena using ground-based and satellite observations. New methods investigating the global diagnostics of seismicity using both DEMETER and ground based VLF signals were developed and tested using seismic observations from Japan. These comparative studies (involving the integration of different advanced theoretical and experimental studies) included the clarification of the physical mechanisms responsible for generating the seismo-electromagnetic phenomena and the development of theories for energy penetration from earthquake epicentre, through the atmosphere and ionosphere and up to satellite altitudes.

The implementation of the SEMEP project has filled several significant gaps in our understanding of the physics of the formation of ionospheric disturbances caused by seismic activity. The results have enabled further development of the methods used for short-term forecasting and early detection of large-scale natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.