Precursory Chemical Changes in Ground Water: Kobe Earthquake, Japan

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Science  07 Jul 1995:
Vol. 269, Issue 5220, pp. 61-63
DOI: 10.1126/science.269.5220.61


Chloride (Cl) and sulfate (SO42–) ion concentrations of ground water issuing from two wells located near the epicenter of the Kobe earthquake in Japan fluctuated before the disastrous magnitude 7.2 event on 17 January 1995. The samples measured were pumped ground water packed in bottles and distributed in the domestic market as drinking water from 1993 to April 1995. Analytical results demonstrate that Cland SO42– concentrations increased steadily from August 1994 to just before the earthquake. Water sampled after the earthquake showed much higher Cl and SO42– concentrations. The precursory changes in chemical composition may reflect the preparation stage of a large earthquake.