WP 3.2 Radon anomalies / Development of warning algorithms

Start date or starting event:


Lead contractor:






To establish the significance of the radon anomalies that occurred prior to the June 2000 earthquakes by comparing them to earlier results of the radon monitoring program in South Iceland and other results world-wide. Characteristics of the anomalies will be determined with the aim of developing a warning algorithm.



1. Time series of radon at seven sites within the South Iceland seismic zone 1977-1993.

2. Time series of radon at seven sites since 1999.

3. Continuous time series at one site since July 2001 and several sites to be installed in the fall of 2001.


Methodology / work description:

The relationship between radon and earthquakes in this area has been studied since 1977 when Egill Hauksson of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory installed the first equipment for this purpose. The instruments were operated until 1993 and a summary of the results until then have been given. A very clear relationship could be established and a number of premonitory radon anomalies were identified. A new instrument was designed and tested for this purpose by. The instrument is based on a novel liquid scintillation technique where counting only Bi-218/Po-218 pulse pairs gives high sensitivity with a simple construction. The system represents a significant progress in the radon measuring technique. A new program of sampling from geothermal wells in the South Iceland seismic zone was initiated in 1999, a year before the destructive earthquakes of June 2000 occurred. The two M=6.5 earthquakes originated in the middle of the sampling network. These events were preceded by clear anomalies at six out of seven stations.


This technique is presently being developed further. An automatic system for sampling and analysis has been designed. The first automatic station was installed in July 2001 at the well-head of a drill hole in Selfoss. Other stations will be installed later this year.


We plan to hire a research student to study the data from the three data sources listed above, integrate them and do statistical tests. Estimated time is 8 person-months and the work can begin as soon as funds are secured for this project.


Deliverables including cost of deliverable as percentage of total cost of the proposed project:


Time series of radon at all radon stations in South Iceland since 1977

M12  Re  PU  0,8%


Presentation of the radon results at  international meetings.

M12  Re  PU  0,5%


Paper in a refereed journal on the radon anomalies identified.

M20  Re  PU  0,4%


Warning algorithms presented at meeting.

M24  Re  PU  1,2%



Milestones: Delivery of the above items at the date indicated.