The Fundamental Theory behind GeoCosmo
Dr Freund giving conference in USGS


Dr. Friedemann Freund, a NASA Scientist, and Chairman of GeoCosmo’s Science Team, has pioneered research showing evidence that electronic charge carriers, “positive holes,” are generated deep within the Earth’s crust prior to a seismic event and flow out of stressed rock all the way to the Earth’s surface.  The theory explains why many mysterious pre-earthquake phenomena have been reported for centuries by other scientists, but even more importantly it holds promise for becoming the basis for a reliable earthquake forecast.

According to the theory, when rocks are stressed, peroxy defects become activated, generating electrons and defect electrons, also known as positive holes.  The effects of the “positive holes” move up to the earth’s surface and beyond.  As this electron-based phenomenon ripples out, there are measurable effects.

At least a dozen different type of signals signals have been shown to precede earthquakes.  Dr. Freund has been able to explain them by the positive hole theory and to validate many of them through experiments.



Dr. Freund’s  laboratory and theoretical work provides a promising base for forecasting earthquakes, but further research is required.

All GeoCosmo’s research is dedicated to understanding pre-earthquake science with the goal of creating an earthquake forecast.  To achieve this goal, we are pursuing the following three areas that require further research and development: Positive Hole Theory, Pre-Cursor Measurement, and Methods of Data Analysis.


GeoCosmo’s mission is to establish the scientific understanding of pre-earthquake science necessary for creating a true global earthquake forecast system that could save billions of dollars and thousands of lives each year.

Pre-earthquake science has been shrouded in both mystery and controversy, as no one from any scientific discipline has been able to generate a reliable forecast. But over the past decades, many observers around the world including well-known scientists, reported earthquake precursors but recently only-NASA affiliated Senior Scientist Dr. Friedemann Freund and his team produced and successfully tested theories that explain and tie together a multitude of pre-earthquake signals. His work has paved a path for further research that may bring the scientific community closer to creating a global earthquake forecast system.

Richard Holden, Commissioner for the Pacific Region, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, writes “”Two scenario earthquakes in northern and southern California are expected to generate billions of dollars in damage to infrastructure, housing, and business facilities. These visible and tangible losses are enormous but do not represent the total risk to the regional Economies or labour markets. We estimate that the labour market risk from scenario earthquakes such as the M6.9 Hayward and the M7.8 southern San Andrea events can result in employment and wage loss exposures that affect hundreds of thousands of employees and billions of dollars in wages paid in the most highly damaged areas…

Earthquakes are the deadliest natural disasters. According to seismologists earthquakes are unpredictable, striking without prior warning. However the seismological approach that treats earthquakes as purely mechanical events is antiquated. Non-seismic processes must be included too. If we include them, amazing insights are the reward.

Every major earthquake in recent history has been preceded by measurable pre-earthquake (pre-EQ) signals, typically days, sometimes weeks before the main shocks. These pre-EQ signals are diverse and fleeting, often hard to detect, sometimes distinct and strong. Their main drawback has been that – until recently – nobody knew how to “read their message”.

Dr Freund s lifelong interest has been in defects in crystals. He made fundamental discoveries in this field. Together with his late son Mino, a solid state physicist and Director of Nanotechnology at the NASA Ames Research Center, he has been able to decipher the fundamental physical laws that control non-seismic pre-EQ phenomena. They discovered that, when rocks are stressed, they turn into a combination of a semiconductor and a battery, activating electrons and holes. The electrons stay in the stressed rock volume, while the holes have the remarkable and truly amazing ability to flow out the stressed rock volume, traveling fast (~100 m/s) and far (on the order of meters to tens of kilometres) through the Earth’s crust all the way to the surface. Once this basic behaviour was understood, many pieces of the previously enigmatic non-seismic pre-EQ signals fell into place.

International Geo-Hazards Research Symposium

The GeoCosmo team organized a research symposium at NASA in December 2014 that gathered researchers from around the world to share their latest research on pre-earthquake signals.  The presentations can be seen on the International Geo-Hazards Symposium website.

Methods of Data Analysis

GeoCosmo is working in partnership with NASA Systems Engineer Gerald Temple on methods of data analysis.  As explained on the here, an earthquake forecast is dependent on the analysis of multiple pre-earthquake signals.  Gerald Temple is bringing his experience designing testing mechanisms for NASA space rockets to GeoCosmo.  He is designing software that could take in a multitude of signals and generate a single earthquake forecast per each location.

Positive Hole Theory

Dr. Freund has developed the Positive Hole theory of the underlying physical and electrochemical processes before earthquakes by conducting test in the lab.

He has shown in the lab that limestones produce the same stress-induced electric signals as igneous rocks and that igneous rocks, when impregnated with water, produce the same or even higher level of stress-induced electric signals as dry rocks. He has also replicated the “Earthquake lights” phenomenon in the lab.

He is currently working on a careful evaluation of the different components individually and jointly for more than one type of sedimentary rock, a randomly picked limestone. These studies will  show that dynamic loads applied to various types of sedimentary rocks leads to stress-induced electric, more specifically, electronic currents that can propagate from the stressed into and through the unstressed parts of the rock samples.  He is also working on a study of how the introduction of water and/or brines affects stress-activated currents.








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