Frictional discharge at fault asperities: Origin of fractal seismo-electromagnetic radiation

Jun Muto, Hiroyuki Nagahama, Takashi Miura, Ichiro Arakawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


To investigate the relation between the rock friction and the fractal electromagnetic radiation before the main-shock of earthquakes, we conducted a friction experiment simulating the motion of an asperity on a fault plane, and observed photon emissions due to electric discharge by dielectric breakdown of ambient gases from friction contacts between rock minerals. This indicates that frictional discharges (plasma generations) could occur locally at microscopic asperities on fault surfaces. From concepts on the fractal size-distribution and temporal evolution of fault asperities, the frictional discharge occurring at asperities on the fault plane can be one of origins of the fractal electromagnetic radiation (Benioff electromagnetic radiation) prior to earthquakes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-122
Number of pages10
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Feb 20


  • Asperity
  • Benioff electromagnetic radiation
  • Damage mechanics
  • Fractal
  • Frictional discharge plasma
  • Seismo-electromagnetic radiation


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