SYZYGY...An Earthquake Newsletter
Sizz-a-Jee (Linked by a common need & interest)
Editor: Jim Berkland
1175 Chauvet Rd. Box 1926
Glen Ellen, CA. 95442
(707) 935-6512 ::: FAX (707) 935-6639

$40.00 per Year
12 Monthly Issues
Back issues $4.00
Earthquake Phone
1-900-844 JOLT
$1.49 per minute

QuakeLine is for S.F. Bay Area Only

James O. Berkland


JUNE 1997

Vol. 8. No. 6

Hello Folks:

With this June issue we will have completed 8 1/2 years of SYZYGY from my home base in San Jose, California. Now for some long-awaited changes. Beginning next month these communications will emanate from my family home base in the Valley of the Moon as I return to my roots, where the rising full Moon has special syzygeal implications.
When I was a lad of 6 1/2 years my family moved from my birthplace in Glendale, CA to Glen Ellen, CA where I was raised in a bucolic setting, going barefoot from June to September, during the eight years I attended Dunbar Union Grammar School. Then it was on to Sonoma Valley High School for 4 years (where the hardy survivors of our graduating class of 77 will have our 50th reunion next year). Next it was Santa Rosa Junior College for three years, U.C. Berkeley for my BA in Geology and San Jose State University for my MS I later studied for three additional years on a PhD program at U.C. Davis, completing all but the final acceptance of my 250 page doctoral dissertation.
Essentially, I was a Glen Ellenite from 1937-67, an expatriate from 1967-97, and now a returnee for my final years in this 30-year cycle.
During my first week back, I went trout fishing four times and caught several from 10-15" long. This contrasted with my first day there in 1937 when I talked my mother into letting me head down to the creek with a bent pin for a hook and brought home a bony, bottom-feeding sucker, which she tried (and failed) to make edible. In contrast, my wife, Jan, turned my recent catch into trout ambrosia, accompanied by some Sonoma sour French bread and a delicate Kenwood chardonnay. See, there is more to life than earthquakes.

Recently I was interviewed on the Kathy Gori radio show in Los Angeles (KPFK). Kathy is also a Glen Ellenite at heart, and has spent many summers there. Her eclectic radio show has a very responsive audience and I was pleased to receive dozens of communications following my appearance there in early May. One example follows:

Dear Jim, Your presentation on Public Radio was of great interest to me. You seem to combine traits of common sense and intelligence very well. In addition to your sample newsletter, do you have a book published outlining the scope of your work? If so, include information about it, and you have a sure sale. Programs on the radio are of necessity abbreviated, and I was rushing into work, and heard enough to get your address, but sure want to hear, or read more. Thanks for your newsletter.
Dick Redoutey, Costa Mesa, CA.

Thank you very much, Dick. One of the reasons for my move back to the quiet of the wine country was to work on a book or two. A prospective title is: A FAIR SHAKE. However, in the interim let me suggest a 1996 book by award-winning author, Thurston Clarke, entitled, CALIFORNIA FAULT. One chapter deals in large part with my work, and is the result of Thurston's visit with me for about three hours. You will find his book highly informative and entertaining, as he deals with history, geography, legends, Californiana, AND the focus of his study, the San Andreas Fault.

Also check out my new worldwide Website:

My Webmaster, Will Fletcher, is doing a good job of making it a one-stop center for earthquake information by adding a series of links and some new features. Your comments are appreciated. Also here is another form of my newsletter that may catch your fancy:

The Sound of SYZYGY
For those of you with impaired vision, or who would like to catch up on past SYZYGYs while driving or doing other things even more hazardous, I have been making audiotapes of each issue every month as a donation to the Santa Clara Valley Lions Blind Center I will send you such an audiotape for $15. postpaid. On it are some additional comments and updates, but each tape is essentially an oral version of SYZYGY lasting 30-40 minutes. Try it; you'll like it. If you want a full year's set of audiotapes.....a bargain at $150. per annum.

Close encounters of the 5th kind: What you experience after polishing off the whole fifth.


Geologist's Million Dollar Lottery: The pay-off is $1 per year for a million years.

Planned epitaph for my tombstone: Jim Berkland.....He searched for truth, but here he lies.


If you don't know, you are ignorant.
If you know and flaunt it, you are arrogant.
If you know, but don't care, you are indifferent.
If you know, but deny you know, you are fraudulent.
If you know, but don't want to believe it, you are a born skeptic.
If you know, but don't think others deserve to know, you are a bureaucrat.
If you think you know, but aren't sure until you sleep on it, you are a psychologist.
If you know, but keep it to yourself forever, you are deceased, a priest, or a devoted militarist.
If you know, but will not act on it until properly rewarded with money or power, you are a politician.
If you know, but don't know how to explain it, you are a ________________.
(fill in the blank; I've made enough enemies.)

Although this section is often focused on the Puget Sound area, it contains information that people can use in almost any seismically active area. For this month's item I am indebted to an anonymous Seattle subscriber, who sent me a clipping from the Associated Press that was printed in THE HERALD (May 18, 1997.) You may note that the date strikes a familiar chord. It was the seventeenth anniversary of the big blast accompanying the 5.2M quake at Mount Saint Helens. Can you believe it was that long ago? A baby born on that day would be graduating from high school this month. (How does the line go? "Swifter, oh swifter, oh time in thy flight.")
The initial eruption on March 20, 1980 was mostly steam and it was downplayed by some experts as not a true eruption. However, on that very day, I had predicted during an interview with a public television crew that I expected Saint Helens to let go during 1980 and "become the first active volcano in the 48 conterminous states since Mt. Lassen last erupted." (1914-17). Their response was, "I hope you're right. We are going to fly around it this afternoon." (For their TV special, "The Invisible, Earthquakes and Volcanoes.")

The newspaper clipping referred to above is entitled "New Center to Help Coastal Towns Prepare for Tsunamis"

(Newport Ore.) Scientists don't know when the next tsunami will hit the West Coast, but they are working on detailed maps to help coastal towns know what to expect when the big wave hits.
The new Center for the Tsunami Inundation Mapping Effort, of TIME, was dedicated Saturday at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Ore.
"Because of the likelihood of earthquakes, communities along the entire West Coast of North America, particularly Alaska and the area from Northern California to Washington, as well as Hawaii and other Pacific Islands, are under the constant threat of potentially devastating tsunamis," said Eddie Bernard.
Bernard is director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, which has joined other state and federal agencies in the $200,000 per year mapping project.
Tsunamis are big ocean waves that can be generated by earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides or even meteor impacts. A tsunami from the 1964 quake off Alaska came into the bay at Crescent City, Calif., and killed 10 people. (ed. That "Good Friday Earthquake" measured 8.4M and has not been equaled anywhere in the world since then.)
The 750-mile-long Cascadia Subduction Zone off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and Northern California has generated devastating tsunamis that can reach coastal towns in as little as five to 45 minutes.
Big Cascadia quakes tend to happen every 300 to 500 years, and the last one was 300 years ago, said Antonio Baptista, director of the Center for Coastal and Land Margin Research at the Oregon Graduate Institute for Science and Technology in Beaverton, which is developing technology used to draw the maps.
"The next one, I don't know," he said. "It could be during the dedication ceremony Saturday or 200 years down the road."
Last year, the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries drew a line along the Oregon coast roughly indicating where the tsunami from a quake of magnitude 8.5 is likely to flow. The idea was to help coastal towns plan where to locate schools, hospital, and police and fire stations so they would be less likely to be inundated.
The new project will give towns more detailed maps to help them make plans such as escape routes in case of smaller tsunamis, Baptista said.
The maps will be drawn with the help of computer models that predict how the contours of the land beneath the water will influence flooding.
"My personal opinion is the town of Seaside is the hot spot on the coast," Baptista said.
Seaside is on flat ground making a wide area susceptible to flooding, and escape routes depend of bridges that could fall down in an earthquake, he said. Tillamook Head would tend to concentrate wave energy toward Seaside.
Tsunamis tend to be larger on the northern Oregon coast, but arrive on shore faster on the southern Oregon coast, Baptista said. A quake off Gold Beach could generate a tsunami that could reach shore in just five minutes.
The center will begin mapping this year in Oregon in Gold Beach and Astoria-Warrenton. The project will also begin mapping in Washington in Grays Harbor, Willapa Bay and Long Beach.

Following the previous section I can think of no more appropriate comment than.....
When a tsunami warning is issued, DO NOT rush to the seashore to see it. That might seem like a ridiculous statement, but on several occasions in the past 20 years we have had a tsunami warning along the California coast. Newspeople typically head west to report it, and to interview citizens who don't want to miss the attraction, including some who arrive with surfboards in hand. I prefer to watch it on television where it can be a much drier experience. All kidding aside. Just talk to the people in Hilo, Hawaii or examine the pictures of the devastation there from 30-foot tsunamis in 1946 and 1964. These horrendous waves can reach more than 100 feet high and sweep inshore for a mile or more. The damage from a tsunami can exceed that from all other effects of the earthquake that caused it, and a few minutes of warning can be the difference between life and death if you head AWAY from the wave.

When it comes to psychic phenomena, there are many skeptics, and I was among them until "Z". For years I would call the CalTech seismographic lab on almost a daily basis to get the latest in Southern California earthquake activity. I became quite friendly with the office personnel, although I have always been viewed with reservations by the seismologists. My telephonic contacts there proved quite useful as "filters" for contacts with sincere people having information that C.I.T. couldn't or wouldn't deal with. In such cases I would be given a telephone number so that I could follow up if I chose. For example, there was a lady who's garden earthworms crawled to the surface to die in the hot sun the day before the Whittier Quake in 1987; or the little old lady in Pasadena whose refrigerator magnets dropped to the floor a few hours before that same quake; or.....there are several other examples that I will deal with at a later time, but this is the time for "Z."
A CalTech secretary told me one morning that a mysterious woman named Vassiliki Zoyes had correctly predicted five local quakes in a row to the Seismo-Lab and the scientists there were reluctant to deal with her. I was given "Z's" number and we arranged to for me to visit with her the next time I was in Southern California. Within a couple of weeks I was in the area to meet my daughter, Krista, who was studying psychology at U.C.L.A. We drove together through the aggravating traffic until we found "Z's" home in Redondo Beach. On the way Krista said, "Dad, I need a break. I have such a heavy course load, I'm always studying, when I'm not tutoring, or working at the veterinary hospital. I think I'll take up sky-diving."
As you might imagine, my fatherly heart missed a few beats, while I tried not to over-react. I tried the low-key approach. "You know, you don't just pick up a parachute and hop aboard a plane. It takes a lot of training............and it's expensive." Krista responded, "I know all that, but I think I'll try it anyway." I let the subject drop, hoping that would be the end of it.
We had expected to visit "Z" for an hour or so, but the conversation turned out to be so fascinating that we didn't leave until after 2:00 AM. Shortly after we arrived near dusk, "Z" informed us that there would be a 4M quake in the area that night. I remarked, "I've heard a lot of predictions before, but usually not for a moderate quake within only a 12 hour time frame." But "Z" seemed quite confident. She showed us testimonials from police departments and acquaintances about a variety of successful predictions she had made in the past. After an hour or so, I said, "Could you bring this up-to-date to add to your credibility? For example, can you tell me what my daughter wants to do that I'm not too pleased about?" "Z" frowned and said, "Jim, I don't do parlor tricks." But then she had a change of heart and added, "O.K., for you. Don't worry about your daughter and her sky diving.!!!" I was dumbfounded, and Krista and I looked at each other in disbelief. "Z's" sky-diving analysis was completely "out of the blue," and there was no way that she could have known about our conversation in the car a couple of hours earlier. Needless to say, after that experience, we were not too surprised to hear on the car radio around 3:00 AM, that four counties in Southern California had just been shaken by a 4.2M earthquake. I wonder who was off the mark by 0.2M, "Z" or the CalTech seismologists.

SEISMIC SENTRIES (Pet of the Month)
For this month's sentries I draw upon the experience of another successful earthquake forecaster, biologist, Marsha Adams, who has been monitoring extremely low frequency radio signals (ELF) for more than two decades from sites on the San Francisco Peninsula.
We often compared notes on our observations and frequently found independent verifications of upcoming earthquakes. In recent years she has been reticent to exchange information as she has developed proprietary techniques in forecasting. However, in 1989 there was a free-flow of data. On Friday, October 13, 1989 I had called the Gilroy Dispatch to predict a "World Series Earthquake" by October 21st, based upon the highest tidal force in three years and a record number of missing pet ads in the San Jose Mercury News. (The previous peak tides at the end of December 1986 had been greeted by a local 4.6M quake, which had brought me a letter of congratulations from the president of the Peninsula Geological Society, where I had publicly predicted the quake two weeks earlier.)
On Sunday afternoon, October 15, 1989 I phoned Marsha at her home in the mountains above Woodside to tell her of my concerns about a large local quake that seemed imminent. She said, "Jim, I agree with you. I have had several lines of evidence about a quake, and right now I am looking into my patio where a small herd of deer are looking back at me. They seem to have no fear, and I have never seen this before." Others have.
Helmut Tributsch in his book, "When the Snakes Awake" described several such incidents, including a herd of deer clustering near the village without fear the day before the major Friuli, Italy earthquake. Tributsch said this was similar to what happens prior to a big mountain storm. Such clues should never be ignored, especially when combined with other factors that seem to have precursory value.

For the month of June let us look to the country with the most frequent large earthquakes. On June 12, 1978 a 7.4M quake struck Miyagi-Ken-Oki, Japan, but is often called the Sendai Quake after the city of 1 million population where the most damage occurred, although lying some 60 miles from the epicenter. Four months earlier there had been a 6.7M foreshock. There were many lessons for United States cities as Sendai has modern 20-story buildings of re-enforced concrete and there was damage to large tanks, dikes, pipelines and bridges.
There were oil spills, landslides and initial concerns about the nuclear power-plant at Fukushima, which experienced more than 30 seconds of shaking, with maximum acceleration of 0.25g, well within design limits.
The death toll was 27, about half from falling walls, and more than 1,000 people were injured. The damage was estimated at more than $830 million in 1978 dollars.
This area of northern Honshu has been subjected to dozens of large quakes in the past 500 years and, more significantly, there have been five great (8+M) quakes there since 1897.
The quake occurred seven days after the New Moon, similar to the timing of the Great Tokyo quake of September 1, 1923, which hit six days after the New Moon.
Much of foregoing information was derived from the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute Reconnaissance Report (165 p.) of December 1978 (Editor, Peter I. Yanev.)

The Seismic Window of May 6-13, 1997 had mixed results. The prediction for a major event of +7M was satisfied by a 7.3M killer quake in eastern Iran, where several thousand people died on May 10th. This was the fifth major quake this year, which puts us at the long-term average of about one per month, well below the extreme activity of 1995 and 1996, which produced 48 major events in 24 months.
On the first day of the May window there was a 4.4M quake NW of Mojave and on May 10th a 3.7M temblor shook Morongo Valley. Either of these events was sufficient to satisfy my prediction for a +3.5M within 140 miles of Los Angeles, and the 4.4 was the third strongest in Southern California so far this year.
For the Bay Area prediction the strongest quake only measured 2.6M (NE of the Pinnacles on May 8th) but no May quake in the Bay Area exceeded 3.2M through the first 27 days of the month.
For my Northwest prediction only one quake hit during the May window and that was near Pendleton, Oregon on May 13th, when there was a jolt of 2.7M. The month wasn't totally quiet in Washington as a 3.1M event struck Concrete, WA on May 3rd, and one of 3.2M hit SE of Bellingham, WA on May 18th.
For my MOSS prediction (Monthly Outright Seismic Speculation) the closest to a Missouri 3.0M was a 2.6M surprise near Marine, Illinois on May 3rd. Thus my MOSS record for guess quakes stands at one hit in 37 attempts, compared with 75% success for my scientific predictions.

The Seismic Window for June 20-27, 1997 marks the change of concentration to the Full Moon tides, as they are now marginally higher than those at the New Moon. This difference will increase month by month and there will be perigean spring tides in August, September and October. A Full Moon will occur on June 20th and the highest tides of 7.7 feet will be noted at the Golden Gate on June 22nd. The summer solstice with accompanying "solsticial tides" will take place on June 21st. This combination will create a 75% probability for:

Between June 20-27, 1997 expect: (1) A quake of 3.5-5.5M within 100 miles of San Jose; (2) a quake of 3.5-5.5M within 140 miles of Los Angeles; (3) a quake of 3.5-5.5M within Washington and/or Oregon; and (4) a major event of 7+M someplace on Earth, probably within the Pacific Ring of Fire.

For my Monthly Outright Seismic Speculation (MOSS) expect a +3.5M quake in a New England state during the month of June. Such an event can be expected about twice a year, so there is about a 16% chance for my MOSS prediction to hit.


So far this year the earthquake activity has been fairly routine with no "great" earthquakes and a nominal total of five "majors." The expected effects of extreme flooding are often delayed by a few months, so we are not "out of the woods" yet for areas that experienced the "hundred year flood" or even the "five hundred year flood."

Don't forget to check out my new Website at or in its temporary resting place with webmaster, Will Fletcher at: You will find a world of information through special updated links.

If your address label shows that your subscription has expired or is about to expire, now is the time to renew. I don't want to lose you just as I am about to renew my life back again in my beloved Valley of the Moon. We have much to learn together.


Return to SYZYGY Earthquake Prediction Home Page

Questions? Comments?

Communicate With Us ... customer.service