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  • Nate Scharping

Searching for Earthquakes in the Ionosphere

Earthquakes may release bursts of electrical energy that can be felt in the ionosphere, kilometers above Earth. The theory remains controversial, though.


Credit: Adam DuBrowa/FEMA


In 2010, at 40 minutes past 3:00 in the afternoon on 4 April—Easter Sunday—northwestern Mexico started to shake. A magnitude 7.2 earthquake was rattling the Baja California region, ultimately causing three deaths and more than 100 injuries. The quake caused widespread damage in the border cities of Mexicali, Mexico, and Calexico, Calif. The quake made skyscrapers sway in San Diego, more than 160 kilometers west.


The earthquake sent waves through the ground around it, but high in the atmosphere, a very different sort of perturbation might have offered a forewarning of the earthquake’s impending arrival, had anyone been able to see it.


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