New technology could help predict earthquakes

Scientists from Edinburgh University hope to have a greater understanding of earthquakes and landslides. Credit: PA

New aerial studies of the earth's surface could help predict where earthquakes and landslides might occur, according to scientists.

Specialist sensors carried by aeroplanes are being used to take measurements which allow experts to pinpoint areas of land which are changing shape as a result of the earth's plates moving.

Scientists from Edinburgh University used the data to investigate how these movements - known as tectonic activity - have impacted on hills in California's San Andreas Fault.

Simon Mudd, from Edinburgh University's School of Geosciences, said: "We are excited by our finding that growing landscapes have a distinct topographic signature that can be detected using improved remote sensing techniques.

"In tectonically active regions, such growing landscapes are associated with faults so our findings offer the potential of rapid and cost-effective detection of potentially hazardous areas."