Mineral quartz helps in predicting quakes, volcano eruptions

The mineral quartz could help scientists predict earthquake tremors and volcanic eruptions.

Last Updated: Mar 18, 2011, 15:28 PM IST

London: The mineral quartz could help scientists predict earthquake tremors and volcanic eruptions, says a new study.
Underground crystal deposits of the stone are abundant wherever fault lines occur and indicate a weakness in the earth`s crust that is likely to lead to a geological event, scientists found.

In a research that could lead to saving thousands of lives in future disasters, they believe the mineral accounts for the movements of continental plates.

It includes the Asiatic plate moving under the North American plate that caused last week`s Japan megaquake, the journal Nature reports.

The research was conducted by Marta Perez-Gussinye from the University of London and geophysicist Anthony Lowry from Utah State University, according to the Daily Mail.

Lowry said: "Certainly, the question of why mountains occur where they do has been around since the dawn of time."

Their findings come after they repeatedly found a link between quartz deposits and geological events that they said was "completely eye-popping".

They used Earthscope, a computer programme that uses geological and geophysical techniques to look at the structure of the North American continental plate.

The information they gathered showed that quartz minerals were a good indicator of weaknesses in the earth`s crust.

The team linked the properties in rocks to Earth`s movements. Quartz contains trapped water that is released when heated under stress, allowing rocks to slide and flow in what Lowry termed a "viscous cycle".