Using Global Positioning System (GPS) data from sites near the 16 Oct. 1999 Hector Mine, California earthquake, Pulinets et al. (2007) identified anomalous changes in the ionospheric total electron content (TEC) starting one week prior to the earthquake. Pulinets (2007) suggested that precursory phenomena of this type could be useful for predicting earthquakes. On the other hand, and in a separate analysis, Afraimovich et al. (2004) concluded that TEC variations near the epicenter were controlled by solar and geomagnetic activity that were unrelated to the earthquake. In an investigation of these very different results, we examine TEC time series of long duration from GPS stations near and far from the epicenter of the Hector Mine earthquake, and long before and long after the earthquake. While we can reproduce the essential time series results of Pulinets et al., we find that the signal they identified as being anomalous is not actually anomalous. Instead, it is just part of normal global-scale TEC variation. We conclude that the TEC anomaly reported by Pulinets et al. is unrelated to the Hector Mine earthquake.
Additional publication details
On the reported ionospheric precursor of the Hector Mine, California earthquake