IISc Scientists Use Soft Materials to Study Earth Quake Impact in Laboratory
A new study done by researchers
at Indian Institute of Science ahs revealed that study of stress impact on soft
materials helps in understanding how the Earth's crust is restructured during
earth quakes. The study was done on thin sheets of soft materials- a tightly
packed gel of soap-like molecules and a glass made from clay nanoparticles.
They were sheared between two steel plates. When force was continuously applied
by the plate on the material, the internal reorganization of the material
generated burst-like patterns over time that resembled seismograph data
generated by earthquakes. Earthquakes occur when there is friction between
tectonic plates causing a sudden burst of energy that causes severe damage to
the environment and human lives. Earth quake prediction is still a difficult
job for scientists nor it is easy to know how strong it will be in the event of
such an occurrence. In lab settings, force was applied on rocks or ceramic
materials to learn how it was deformed on stress. In this process, it is
difficult to study the changes that happen inside before they split open. In the
current study, the researchers used soft materials instead and observed how
they reacted under stress. Using an optical microscope and camera, they were
able to look closely at how the inside of the material changed over time.
They found that the rate at which the material reorganized itself showed burst-like patterns persisting over thousands of seconds, resembling seismic foreshocks and aftershocks. These events usually happen over hundreds of kilometres during earthquakes.