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Hot Spring Helium Emissions Could Foretell Tsunami

Higher emission of helium gases from hot springs could be a precursor to natural disasters like tsunami and earthquake, Indo-Asian News reported.

"We have found that the emission of deep earth gases like helium shoots up when large plates down below the earth put pressure on each other," Bikash Sinha, director of the Variable Energy Cyclotron Center (VECC), said in Kolkata.

"The rupturing of the plates open up pores and the helium comes out. It is exciting to make this observation and also very frustrating because we cannot predict when the earthquake or tsunami would occur."

The VECC is working on this phenomenon to effectively predict seismic tremors, said Rakesh Bhandari, assistant director at VECC.     

"We cannot say when or where the quake or consequent tsunami would occur but such an occurrence can be predicted," Bhandari said.

In an attempt to improve the basic understanding of deep gas emissions and their relation to seismotectonics, a research and development project funded by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)and Department of Science and Technology (DST) is currently running a technically responsive hot spring site at Bakreswar in West Bengal.

"The preliminary precursory anomalous signals of radon, gamma and helium occurring about a few days or even a month before a major or semi-major quakes have been startling and encouraging," Sinha said.

"Variation of geochemical observable such as radon gammas, helium and methane, electrical resistivity, magnetic field changes, stress change, infrasonic waves and even abnormal behavior of animals provide reliable precursory signals to some imminent seismic tremors," Sinha said.
(Xinhua News Agency May 8, 2005)

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