[ RadSafe ] radon, lucas cells, earthquakes

Brennan, Mike (DOH) Mike.Brennan at DOH.WA.GOV
Thu Feb 25 14:10:04 CST 2016

Some years ago the safety officer of an underground coal mine (as opposed to open pit) contacted me about using radon to predict shifts in the rock that might mean a cave-in was about to occur.  There was interesting evident that this could have some predictive value, but there wasn't a way to collect the information in near-real time that used only spark-proof equipment.

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu [mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of Joseph Preisig
Sent: Thursday, February 25, 2016 11:46 AM
To: radsafe
Subject: [ RadSafe ] radon, lucas cells, earthquakes


     The recent email about Lucas Cells is fairly interesting.  I guess they allow one to get radon samples for counting without the presence of hot particles, other radionuclides etc.  Quite a while ago now I had a student job at the Jet Propulsion Lab and there was some interest in using radon as an earthquake precursor/predictor.  Someone left a stack of documents on my desk about radon and earthquake prediction.  Funny, how these documents somehow suddenly appear on one's desk.  Another time at BNL some mysterious person left me a copy of R. Grover Brown's Kalman Filtering book.  Mystery.

     The Chinese (mainland) have earthquake prediction interests using vp/vs ratio, precursory animal behavior (mice running up walls, horses busting out of corrals), radon, acoustic noise precursors, lights in the sky prior to earthquakes etc.  There is a nice American Geophysical Union book (a big blue book) on Earthquake Prediction by Simpson and Richards.
The elementary Earthquake book by Bruce Bolt also has a discussion of earthquake precursors.  Nance also wrote a popular book on earthquakes --- quite readable by the average guy.

    Radon is probably pretty useless for doing prediction of large/great subduction earthquakes.  But strike-slip events that are on land could probably produce interesting radon signals.  Perhaps some West Coast health physicists could collaborate with the folks at Caltech/JPL to instrument the San Andreas fault line somewhat.

    I see news reports that there is some sort of Cell-Phone APP that is somewhat sensitive to earthquake shaking.  Imagine giving a lecture in California when all of a sudden all the student's phones start giving an earthquake imminent signal.  Run for the doorway or outside???

     Joe Preisig
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