Editor: Jim Berkland
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QUOTE OF THE MONTH
The government warned Oct. 12 (1989) of the highest Pacific tides in years during the week of the Oct. 17 quake on the San Andreas Fault.
The jolt measured 7.1 on the Richter scale, killed at least 66 people in the San Francisco Bay area, and happened during breezy, warm and dry conditions dubbed "earthquake weather" in California folklore. (Assoc. Press, Los Angeles).
While I can vouch for the record tidal forces of October 14, 1989, I must differ with the concept of "Earthquake Weather" as presented there. I have always heard of the requisite conditions as warm, sultry and still. Indeed it was like that as I was leaving the Santa Clara County Building on the evening before the Loma Prieta Quake, and I heard several people discussing the "earthquake weather."
The Associated Press item continued (Toronto Globe and Mail, November 7, 1989):
"Quakes are not caused by such weather but might be triggered by the same atmospheric pressure conditions that create warm winds," meteorologist Jerome Namias, of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, said. "Abnormal pressures and wind systems operating on the fault could encourage slipping motion along the San Andreas, which if other conditions were right, would then trigger this quake," Mr. Namias said. "It's conceivable the high tide added to this condition."
"I would say it is at least 90 percent likely there was some (tidal) influence on the timing of this quake," astronomer Stephen Kilston, of Lockheed Palo Alto Research Laboratory, said. But many seismologists remain skeptical.
Kilston should be remembered as the co-author (with UCLA emeritus professor of seismology, Leon Knopoff) of a remarkable article published in Nature in July of 1983. Based upon high earth tides and the nodal point of the Moon calculated for November of 1987, they predicted that near that date the Southern California segment of the San Andreas fault would be ruptured by a 6M quake, probably near dawn or dusk. Precisely on schedule, near sunset on November 23, 1987, a 6.3M event was centered near Westmoreland (causing my pendulum in my 7th floor San Jose office to sway about one inch.) Before I knew the cause, I informed my co-workers that the movement of the pendulum was similar to that from a 6.5M event 500 miles to the south in the Imperial Valley on October 15, 1979.
Before dawn the next morning (November 24, 1987 another and larger quake of 6.8M struck the Westmoreland area bringing further vindication to Kilston but unexpected consternation to internationally known seismologist, Knopoff. In his own mind he had been dealing with probabilities, not forecasts, and he lamented to a reporter, "I have spent the last four years trying to convince my colleagues that I had not actually predicted a quake when the damn thing happened." (The USGS should be so lucky.)
JEST FOR FUN
The Berkland clan got together in Northridge for a family reunion during the recent holidays (thanks to cousin Nadine and her lovingly indulgent husband, Bill Magee.) During that brief time for happy reminiscence, cousin David Smith, told me about attending an advance screening of "Honey, I Blew Up the Kids" with his young godson, Nathan. The movie was shown on July 8, 1992 at the AVCO Theatre in Westwood. The audience was gasping at the sight of a 100-foot tall toddler making his way through the streets of Las Vegas, accompanied by booming sound effects from Sensuround. The vibrations from the giant footsteps were reaching a crescendo, when the theatre was hit by a 5.3M aftershock from the Big Bear Earthquake of 10 days earlier. Native Californians chuckled at the vibratory coincidence, but out-of-towners noisily dashed for the exits, and not many of them stayed around for the conclusion of the movie. However, David and Nathan remained in their seats until the happy ending. Later, as they drove out of Westwood, David asked his godson what part of the show he enjoyed the most. Nathan responded, "My favorite part was the earthquake." (Typical reaction of a native son.)
(Pet of the Month)
I would here like to credit an excellent work by James Gere and Haresh Shah of Stanford University entitled Terra Non Firma-----Understanding and Preparing for Earthquakes, which was published by W.H. Freeman and Co., N.Y. (1984, 203 p.) This is a very readable but scholarly presentation and I would encourage my readers to examine it. The section on animal behavior is only about two pages long, but it is intriguing. They comment that "It is quite possible that animals can sense phenomena, such as changes in magnetic or electrical fields that human beings cannot sense."
The authors described their visit to China in 1980 during which they had inquired about the great Tangshan earthquake of July 28, 1976 (the day of the New Moon. That quake had killed some 650,000 persons but it had not been predicted, in contrast with the huge success the Chinese claimed during the previous year for the 7.3M Haicheng earthquake of February 3, 1975 (the last day of the first Seismic Window I had publicly issued.)
Gere and Shah wrote that "At Tangshan we learned that a long-term warning had been issued many months before the earthquake. However, the actual earthquake came unexpectedly, without foreshocks, and was much stronger (magnitude 7.8) than anyone would have predicted for that region. When we inquired of survivors about animal behavior, we were told stories like these: A family in a building heard dogs crying, water birds flying and insects buzzing shortly before the earthquake; another person heard a donkey crying in the middle of the night, prior to the earthquake; and someone heard a horse and cow cry about an hour before the large aftershock. (7.2M the next day) All of these stories were related to us second-or thirdhand;.................
When we asked one of the leading Chinese earthquake specialists about animal behavior as a predictor of earthquakes, he said he gave it no credence, although he went on to say that peasants living in the countryside tended to believe in it. It was our observation that seismologists in China use the same techniques for prediction as are used elsewhere."
From my own trip to China in the summer of 1992 I can affirm that most people questioned (including our college-educated tour-guide) seemed to have no question that animals were useful as earthquake forecasters. I would explain away the doubts expressed by "one of the leading Chinese Earthquake specialists" in the presence of skeptical foreign scientists, as an effort to avoid the issue so as not to cloud his own credentials. During my visit as an incognito scientist, I believe I was receiving a more open response.
I might as well mention here another section of the Gere and Shah book in which my own ideas on tidal triggering of earthquakes were treated fairly (p. 105). "A possible triggering mechanism is the action of tides caused by the moon and sun. We know that tides exist not only in the oceans but also in the solid crust, but no one knows whether the effects area large enough to trigger earthquakes. , a geologist with the County of Santa Clara in California, has been the principal proponent of the idea that earth and ocean tides serve as triggers. He coined the phrase "seismic window" for the time periods when he believed earthquakes were the most likely to occur as the result of being triggered by tidal strains in the earth's crust. A window is taken to be the eight-day period following syzygy, which in this case is the alignment of the sun, earth, and moon. Syzygies occur whenever there is a new or full moon; at such times the earth's crust undergoes maximum tidal deformation. The seismic-window theory has been tested by comparing the times of hundreds of past earthquakes with the tides, but according to USGS investigators, no correlation has yet been observed.
While it seems plausible that the stresses and deformations in the earth due to the gravitational pull of the sun and moon could trigger earthquakes, it seems not only implausible but ridiculous to think that planets could serve as triggers." (Ed. I totally agree.)
QUAKE OF THE MONTH
For a January earthquake I have selected an unusual 5.9M event that struck my wife's New Brunswick, Canada birthplace on January 9, 1982.
This was the strongest event there since October 22, 1869 (17 days after the infamous Saxby Tides, which caused severe destruction in the Bay of Fundy area, as had been predicted one year in advance from calculation of maximum gravitational stresses for October 5, 1869 by Royal British Navy Lieutenant S.M. Saxby. Most of his superiors had ignored his warnings and other warnings about destructive storms, which also hit on schedule.
Similar perigean spring tides took place on January 9, 1982, the day of a lunar eclipse and the day of a 55 foot tidal range in the Bay of Fundy. I had given the January 8-15th Seismic Window an A+ rating for a local earthquake because of a near-record 8.9 foot tidal range at the Golden Gate. There were no significant seismic events in the Bay Area, but an incredibly destructive and deadly storm did hit on January 4-5, 1982. Also a 5.0M quake strike the coast of Northern California at Shelter Cove (Jan. 12th) and a major event (7.0M) hit on the western Pacific on schedule (Luzon, Jan. 10th.) Note that these epicenters were all peripheral to seacoasts, where the tidal effects were enhanced.
The 1982 New Brunswick earthquake was centered near the headwaters of the Little Miramichi River near Plaster Rock. (47.0N, 66.6W). It struck while many New Brunswickers were at breakfast (Saturday, 07:53 a.m. AST). An aftershock of 5.1M hit near noontime that day and one of 5.5M on Monday afternoon. Another 5.5M event occurred on March 31, 1982, followed by 4.5M aftershocks on April 2nd and June 16, 1982.
Although the mainshock was felt in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island, the remoteness of the epicenter resulted in the maximum intensity being limited to Modified Mercali V (small objects toppled, cracks in masonry.) The area was snow-covered, but although some slides occurred no ground rupture was noted, which is typical for all quakes in eastern North America. At least 220 instances of wells drying up were documented up to 100 miles away from the epicenter.
A preliminary report was published in March 1983 by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (Anne E. Stevens, Editor). On page 84 there is a description of unusual animal activity:
Strange animal behaviour was widely reported. This occurred the night before (January 8) around 10:30-11:30 p.m. E.S.T., shortly before the main shock (January 9) and during the felt earthquakes. A foreshock was recorded by the Weston seismograph network at 11:05 p.m. on January 8 with a magnitude too small to calculate; the threshold level is about magnitude 1.5. A few reports described the animals as behaving in an unusual manner for three days prior to the earthquake.
The strange animal behaviour included unusually affectionate cats, haywire cats, weird dogs, rabbits not eating, cows refusing to be milked, horses staying out of the stables and a squirrel running an squeaking in an attic. Also "masses" or rabbits were seen on the streets of Presque Isle the night before and locally abundant fresh rabbit and rodent tracks were seen. Humans reacted to the earthquake in different ways. In addition, there is a report of goldfish that "have just been sitting on the bottom of the tank kinda glup, glup, glup."
In the Bangor Daily News (Jan 11, 1982) it was reported that three cats in Houlton, Maine reacted strangely: "All night Friday the cats, two of them Siamese and one a combination, wandered from one room to the next, sometimes meowing. When anyone went to see what the matter was, the cats would sit and stare at the individual before absenting themselves from the scene, hiding under the bed or beneath a chair.
The family asserted that from now on they were going to pay attention to their cats." The reporter commented that the last time he looked, the price of cats was far cheaper than seismographic equipment.
The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton, New Brunswick, Nov. 2, 1989) reported on a talk by a University Seismologist, Dr. Merrill Edwards, who had apparently learned of my work.
Under the heading, Tidal Stress Seen As More Believable Earthquake Cause, Dr. Edwards "..spoke of a theory developed by a geologist in California which indicates tidal stress may trigger earthquakes. He said that the hypothesis says that the pull of the moon and sun act on the earth very much the same way as it does the tides. He said the Atlantic Ocean is getting bigger and bigger, pushing on land masses on either side.
When these masses are pushed together, it creates friction, sliding against each other, then a huge super tidal effect comes along pulling the layers upward, making them twitch, and causing an earthquake. Dr. Edwards said when New Brunswick had an earthquake in 1982, there was (sic) data showing how the earthquakes occurred at the time of high tides and when the sun was closer to the earth."
I visited the University of New Brunswick in June of 1982 and when I introduced myself to a geologist there, I told him that I had a theory about the timing of earthquakes in general and the Miramichi Earthquake in particular. Before I could explain he said "Well it was on the day of an eclipse of the moon when the Fundy tides were extremely high and the combination probably was too much for the stability on a nearby fault." I was mildly shocked by this and said that he had summarized my own ideas on the subject and asked if he would please accompany me back to California, where he could explain it to some of my more recalcitrant colleagues?
One of the reasons I had joined my wife in a visit to her family that summer, was that I wanted to speak to a school teacher who had contacted me months earlier about some unusual symptoms she had experienced prior to earthquakes. Her name was Sonya Cuddeback, and she had heard me on a New Brunswick radio station two days after the mainshock. The reporter had learned from a friend of mine that their quake had fit my theory and she had phoned me to learn if I had predicted it. I said "Not specifically for that area, as I had no information on local precursory phenomena around New Brunswick." When she inquired further I explained briefly about water levels, magnetic changes, ground tilt, microseisms, radon gas, animal activity, etc. She was intrigued about the animal aspects and was just about to "roll a tape" to record my comments, when I heard her gasp and exclaim, "Oh, no, not another one!"
She was reacting to the 5.5M aftershock of January 11, 1982. I later thought how amazing it was for a 5+M quake to have occurred during a transcontinental telephone conversation, especially with the epicenter at the eastern end of the line. In any case my interview went out over the airwaves and was heard by Sonya Cuddeback, of Gagetown, about 80 miles from the epicenter. About 10 days later I received a letter from her in which she stated that she was a school teacher who had lived in New Brunswick all of her 46 years. She had never before felt an earthquake and she had never had any sinus problems until three days before the main event, when her head stuffed up and she developed a severe headache unlike any she had experienced before. It was centered in her lower forehead between her eyebrows and aspirin "couldn't touch it". She became hyperactive at first, and then nauseous with the pain.
The night before the quake she was so ill she went to bed early and skipped supper. In the morning it was as bad as ever until about 7:30 a.m., when "suddenly the pressure was gone and the pain disappeared.
As I marveled at this first return to normalcy, the first tremors hit!" Sonya is a very shy person and did not want any kind of notoriety, but she felt she had to tell someone, and hoped that I had an explanation.
At the time I did not, but later suggested that she contact someone at the University of New Brunswick, or Marsha Adams, of Time Research Institute, who has been working for nearly 20 years with people who have physiological symptoms prior to quakes. I had no further contact with Sonya until she phoned me on March 31, 1982 to tell me that the previous day the headache symptoms had returned, about 24 hours before the 5.5M aftershock (the strongest in three months.) She was so concerned that she said that she was considering "putting my home up for sale and moving far away." I tried to reassure her that the aftershocks would decrease in frequency and intensity and that New Brunswick was a good place to be if you didn't like earthquakes.
However, three months later, when I drove to Gagetown and found the Cuddeback residence, I learned that she had left her native land and had moved to Virginia. Just like a frightened animal that leaves its normal place of security when earthquake symptoms become too severe, Sonya had "flown the coop" and I have never heard from her again. Yet in 1986 I had a telephone call from another lady in San Jose, California who independently described the same physiological phenomena that preceded local quakes. There was a blinding headache in the lower center of the forehead that commenced several days in advance of the quake, with the symptoms disappearing minutes before the actual event. To date I have learned of five people with this "affliction", including a Time-Life photographer and a chiropractor, who experienced this for several days prior to the Loma Prieta Earthquake. All five of these people thought they were unique, and all were afraid that people might think that they were "crazy" or "weird" if they went public. Now there is a logical explanation.
In the 1984 meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, it was announced for the first time that the highly magnetic substance, magnetite, which had earlier been found in many animals (whales, dolphins, sharks, salmon, chitons, bees, butterflies, robins, etc.) was now known to have been produced also by the human body and it was concentrated in the lower middle of the forehead, in the upper sinus passages. This is approximately the location of the enigmatic pineal gland and the approximate locus of the mystical "third eye." (To visualize this, note that the women of India, place a red spot in this same area.)
Do we have a 6th sense? Is it a sense of direction enabled by the mostly highly magnetic substance found in nature? Is it affected by magnetic anomalies engendered by seismic stresses prior to quakes? Does it cause disorientation, anxiety, and pain in susceptible individuals?
I believe that the answer to all of these questions is "Yes!" but proof is yet elusive. The New Brunswick connection may be critical.
How rare are strong New Brunswick earthquakes? History records only six significant mainshocks in the Bay of Fundy area and the following table shows how tidal forces appear to have played a role. Keep in mind that perigean spring tides, with the syzygy and perigee on the same day occur only two to five times per year; yet five of the six mainshocks listed occurred within three weeks after such an occasion.
STRONGEST BAY OF FUNDY AREA QUAKES AND TIDAL FORCES
Date Magn. FM+ Perigee+ NM+ Synch. (P+S) Remarks
------------ ----- --- -------- --- ------------ -------------------------
1855, Feb 08 5. 06 21 21 6hrs. Near Perihelion
1869, Oct 22 5.5 17 17 03 -7hrs. Saxby Tides, Near equinox.
1904, Mar 21 5. 19 19 05 -15 hrs. At equinox
1922, Jul 02 5. 05 08 67hrs. At aphelion
1929, Nov 18 7.1 02 00 46 hrs. "Grand Banks Quake"
1982, Jan 09 5.9 00 01 31 hrs. Record tides
1982, Jan 09 5.1* (eclipse) Aftershock
1982, Jan 11 5.5* 00 03 31 hrs. *Max.Aftershock
1982, Mar 31 5.0* 03 06 66hrs. Aftershock
FM = Full Moon
NM = New Moon
Synchroneity = time difference between Syzygy (FM or NM) and Perigee. (it can vary
from a few minutes to 8 days, but only once or twice per year is
it less than 12 hours.)
LAST MONTH'S QUAKES
During the seismic window of December 10-17, 1993 my house was shaken for the first time in several months by a 3.7M event on 9:01 a.m. on December 16th. It was centered about eight miles to the south on the Calaveras Fault and was also felt in Santa Cruz, Boulder Creek, Morgan Hill, and Saratoga. Immediately a number of callers to Radio Station KGO reported having felt it and guessed its magnitude as about 3.0-4.0.
I confirmed this estimate on the radio and said that I hoped that it would reach at least 3.5M, as that was my minimum prediction. I was disappointed to hear that the USGS had assigned it a reading of 3.4M, and that was the way it was reported on the air and in the newspapers.
However, the next day the Geological Survey upgraded it to 3.6M, while the U.C. Berkeley Seismographic Station consistently rated it at 3.7M.
In the Los Angeles area I had to settle for a maximum 3.4M event east of Catalina Island on the last day of the Window. Worldwide through January 6, 1994, there has been no major quake since the November Seismic Window, when #13 for the year struck Kamchatka on November 13 as predicted in the November SYZYGY. This left us one short of the average world annual total of 14 quakes of at least 7.0M. The December window came close when quakes of 6.8 and 6.5M hit in the Molucca Sea on December 9th.
THIS MONTH'S PREDICTIONS
The closest annual approach of the Earth to the Sun (perihelion) occurred on January 1st about the same time that UCLA was losing ignominiously to Iowa in the Rose Bowl. A timely earthquake during the last ten seconds of the game might have shaken some sense into the UCLA quarterback, but no such luck. The January 9-16, 1994 Seismic Window is marked by tidal ranges of 7.9 feet on both January 9th and 10th. These are the highest Golden Gate tides until the end of April and they are influence by perihelion, along with the perigee of January 5th and the New Moon of January 11th. Recent rapid rises in the missing pet classifieds may be the result of the usual "New Years anomaly", or they may be signaling an upcoming earthquake. However, I am 80 per cent confident that there will be (1) a 3.5-6.0M event within 70 miles of San Jose; (2) a similar quake within 140 miles of Los Angeles as well as (3) within 140 miles of Seattle; finally, (4) the January Window should bring a major quake somewhere in the world, probably within the Pacific Ring of Fire. These have become my standard predictions, but I also want to point out that there has as yet been no culmination for the thousands of recent 1.5-3.5M shakers in the Mammoth Lakes area. Also an ominous quiescence along the Hayward and northern Calaveras faults raises concerns that my long-standing prediction for an "Echo Quake" of 6.0+M for the East Bay by 1996 may be on target. In addition there has been a recent flurry of activity (1.5-3.5M) on the San Andreas west of the San Francisco Peninsula, which is normally one of the quieter regions in the Bay Area. Another area drawing my attention is the Middle East (especially Iran and Turkey) where deadly quakes of +6.0M seem overdue. However, I have no "inside information" on that hunch.