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Electromagnetic Radiation from Rock Failure.

Hanson DR; Rowell GA
MISSING :21 pages
Experimental work performed by the Bureau of Mines in a laboratory environment has shown that the formation of failure zones within certain rock types is accompanied by the emission of significant amounts of radiofrequency (rf) electromagnetic (em) energy. This radiation was detected using nonresonant, "electrically short," broadband antennas. Rock types for which emission was observed include granite, quartzite, and taconite; sandstone and marble did not emit measurable radiation. Amplitude spectra of the radiation showed the energy to be concentrated between 10 and 40 kilohertz. These data indicate that emission is directional, but this has not yet been proven. In addition, amplitude of rf emission increases with increasing crack size. Since emission was observed only for brittle quartz-bearing rocks, it appears the formation of piezoelectric fields is a necessary condition for rf radiation. Plausible mechanisms for emission include rapid decay of piezoelectric fields accompanying the sudden stress release at failure and/or the acceleration of an "exoelectron plasma" through the intense local piezoelectric fields. Since emission appears to increase with the scale of failure, and since antennas do not need to be coupled directly to rock surfaces as with conventional geophones, the possibility of developing a portable system to monitor seismically active areas exists.
Publication Date
Document Type
IH; Report of Investigations
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
RI 8594
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Page last reviewed: October 29, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division