The monitoring of earthquake events is a very important and challenging task. Remote sensing technology has been found to strengthen the monitoring abilities of the Earth’s surface at a macroscopic scale. Therefore, it has proven to be very helpful in the exploration of some important anomalies, which cannot be seen in a small scope. Previously, thermal infrared (TIR) anomalies have been widely regarded as indications of early warnings for earthquake events. At the present time, some classic algorithms exist, which have been developed to extract TIR anomaly signals before the onset of large earthquakes. In this research study, with the aim of addressing some of the deficiencies of the classic algorithm, which is currently used for noise filtering during the process of extracting tectonic TIR anomalies signals, a novel TTIA (tectonic thermal infrared anomalies) algorithm was proposed to characterize earthquake TIR anomalies using the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) land surface temperature dataset (MOD11A2). Then, for the purpose of determining the rule of the TIR anomalies prior to large earthquake events, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in China was chosen as the study area. It is known that tectonic movements are very active in the study area, and major earthquakes often occur. The following conclusions were obtained from the experimental results of this study: (1) The TIR anomalies extracted using the proposed TTIA method showed a very obvious spatial distribution characteristic along the tectonic faults, which indicated that the proposed algorithm had distinctive advantages in removing or weakening the disturbances of the atectonic TIR anomalies signals; (2) The seismogenic zone was observed to be a more effective observation scale for assisting in the deeper understanding and investigations of the mid- and short-term seismogenic and crust stress change processes; (3) The movement trace of the centroids of the TIR anomalies on the Tibetan Plateau three years prior to earthquake events contributed to improved judgments of dangerous regions where major earthquakes may occur in the future.
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