Analysis of pre-earthquake ionospheric anomalies before the global M = 7.0+ earthquakes in 2010
The pre-earthquake ionospheric anomalies that occurred before the global M = 7.0+ earthquakes in 2010 are investigated using the total electron content (TEC) from the global ionosphere map (GIM). We analyze the possible causes of the ionospheric anomalies based on the space environment and magnetic field status. Results show that some anomalies are related to the earthquakes. By analyzing the time of occurrence, duration, and spatial distribution of these ionospheric anomalies, a number of new conclusions are drawn, as follows: earthquake-related ionospheric anomalies are not bound to appear; both positive and negative anomalies are likely to occur; and the earthquake-related ionospheric anomalies discussed in the current study occurred 0–2 days before the associated earthquakes and in the afternoon to sunset (i.e. between 12:00 and 20:00 local time). Pre-earthquake ionospheric anomalies occur mainly in areas near the epicenter. However, the maximum affected area in the ionosphere does not coincide with the vertical projection of the epicenter of the subsequent earthquake. The directions deviating from the epicenters do not follow a fixed rule. The corresponding ionospheric effects can also be observed in the magnetically conjugated region. However, the probability of the anomalies appearance and extent of the anomalies in the magnetically conjugated region are smaller than the anomalies near the epicenter. Deep-focus earthquakes may also exhibit very significant pre-earthquake ionospheric anomalies.