Animals can feel chemical changes in groundwater that occur when an earthquake is about to strike.
This, scientists say, could be the cause of the bizarre behavior of animals associated with the earthquake.
Researchers began investigating these chemical effects after seeing a colony of toads leave their pond in L’Aquila, Italy, in 2009 – days before an earthquake.
They suggest that animal behavior could be incorporated into earthquake prediction.
The team’s findings are published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. In this article they describe a mechanism by which stressed rocks in the earth’s crust release particles that react with groundwater.
Animals living in or near groundwater are highly sensitive to any change in their chemistry, so they may feel these days before the rocks finally «slide» and cause an earthquake.
The team, led by Friedemann Freund of Nasa and Rachel Grant of Open University in the United Kingdom, hopes their hypothesis will inspire biologists and geologists to work together to discover exactly how animals can help us recognize some of the evasive signs of an impending earthquake.