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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 07 Jan 2019

Research article | 07 Jan 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

Analysis of Spatiotemporal variations in mid-upper tropospheric methane during the Wenchuan Ms8.0 earthquake by three indices

Jing Cui and Xuhui Shen Jing Cui and Xuhui Shen
  • Key Laboratory of Crustal Dynamics, Institute of Crustal Dynamics, China Earthquake Administration, Beijing 100085, China

Abstract. This research studied the spatiotemporal variation in methane in the mid-upper troposphere during the Wenchuan earthquake (12 May, 2008) using AIRS retrieval data and discussed the methane anomaly mechanism. Three indices were proposed and used for analysis. Our results show that the methane concentration increased significantly in 2008, with an average increase of 5.12 * 10−8, compared to the average increase of 1.18 * 10−8 in the previous five years. The Alice and Diff indices can be used to identify methane concentration anomalies. The two indices showed that the methane concentration distribution before and after the earthquake broke the distribution features of the background field. As the earthquake approached, areas of high methane concentration gradually converged towards the west side of the epicenter from both ends of the Longmenshan fault zone. Moreover, a large anomalous area was centered at the epicenter eight days before the earthquake occurred, and a trend of strengthening, weakening and strengthening appeared over time. The Gradient index showed that the vertical direction obviously increased before the main earthquake, and the value was positive. The gradient value is negative during coseismic or postseismic events. The gradient index reflects the gas emission characteristics to some extent. We also determined that the methane release was connected with the deep crust-mantle stress state, as well as microfracture generation and expansion. However, due to the lack of any technical means to accurately identify the source and content of methane in the atmosphere before the earthquake, an in-depth discussion has not been conducted, and further studies on this issue may be needed.

Jing Cui and Xuhui Shen
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Status: open (until 05 Apr 2019)
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Jing Cui and Xuhui Shen
Jing Cui and Xuhui Shen
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