Measurements of charge separation in rock during stable and unstable deformation give unexpectedly large decay times of 50 sec. Time-domain induced polarization experiments on wet and dry rocks give similar decay times and suggest that the same decay mechanisms operate in the induced polarization response as in the relaxation of charge generated by mechanical deformation. These large decay times are attributed to electrochemical processes in the rocks, and they require low-frequency relative permittivity to be very large, in excess of 105. One consequence of large permittivity, and therefore long decay times, is that a significant portion of any electrical charge generated during an earthquake can persist for tens or hundreds of seconds. As a result, electrical disturbances associated with earthquakes should be observable for these lengths of time rather than for the milliseconds previously suggested. ?? 1986 Birka??user Verlag.