This is not about earthquake predictions in general, but rather the rationale for making a formal study of the seemingly more transparent pattern of earthquakes that occur during the seasonal shifts of the earth during the equinoxes and solstices. It is more an open letter pointing out the need for increased research in a specific area of study. Unless of course, this has already been done, but I could not find much plausible information in my searches, and if you have any, please pass it on.
I'm not a pseudo-scientist or psychic, just someone who notices patterns on our home planet who has a bit more than a casual interest in the subject of seismic activity with unique patterns. I hope that this theory does not project an aura of contemptible ineptness; that would not do at all, because I have a sincere interest in putting forth this theory in the hopes that it opens up a dialogue, or perhaps either disprove or confirm the theory of a possible link between the seasonal shifts with the tilt of the earth during equinoxes and solstices and the timing of seismic activity.
Many of you know me as an artist, photographer and scholar. I am also constantly reminded that as inhabitants of planet Earth, we have various types of knowledge that are taught from various sources, including the sciences, humanities, cultures, and of course the practical or applied experience that we all have as members of the human race on our home planet that goes back millions of years (As Earthlings, I suspect that we may know more about ourselves and the home planet than we let on).
You may also view this entry as a subject that personifies our own academic philosophy of a Liberal Arts education, where one is encouraged to take the intellectual approach with a curiosity and knowledge of many areas. Perhaps a critical part of this is about epistemology; how we process information and the act of distinguishing opinion from knowledge.
It seems to me that there may be a neglected aspect of science that may have some relevance towards learning as to whether the idea of seasonal gravitational fluctuations have anything to do with the timing for when earthquakes are more likely to occur. For an example, what about the pattern of earthquakes that happen during equinoxes and solstices? Is there any research being done regarding existing patterns with earthquakes during these times of the year when the seasonal earth gravitational fields fluctuate and are perhaps maximized? Has anyone done formal research on gravitational fluctuations as the earth tilts during the seasons?
If gravity is powerful enough to tilt the Earth on a regular basis to create the seasons, would it not make sense to pay attention to the increased seismic activity during the time when the earth does its seasonal tilts? I get the sense that perhaps we take the seasonal shifts of the earth for granted, because it is such a predictable pattern throughout our lives and geologic time. When you think about it, the tilting of the earth is likely one of the most powerful phenomenons that we encounter on a regular basis, next to the more basic planetary movements, such as rotation of the earth on its own axis, and around the sun.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has a specific database that charts the number of international earthquakes, where, when, how large, etc. that goes back for decades. It would be fairly easy to produce a chart that notes the precise number of earthquakes that occurred during the equinoxes and solstices. It would mean creating a database with specific filters that produces specialized information; in our case, places that denote increased seismic activity for specific dates. Maybe this filtered database already exists somewhere. Does it not interest them that in just the past few years we've had some startling coincidences with major earthquakes during these times? Is it just me, or is this kind of a no-brainer to examine? I'm suggesting plain old scientific inquiry here, not anything radical or unconventional.
I could be mistaken, but I think that the first western scientist to publish his findings on the theory of increased seismic activity during equinoxes and solstices was John Milne, one of the groups of scientists who invented an early version of a seismograph in the 1880's. He was a Professor of Mining and Geology at the Imperial College of Engineering in Tokyo. His book, "Earthquakes and Other Movements" was originally published in 1883 and he is widely acknowledged as being one of the early leading scientists if the field of seismology.
Milne made a few historical observations in his book with the chapter on "Distribution of Earthquakes in Time (p.253)" and made a chart that noted measurable patterns where earthquakes were more frequent during equinoxes and solstices in both the northern and southern hemispheres. The observations were mixed in with other quirky observations from human history about earthquakes that didn't seem very scientific, which may be the reason that his observations on increased seasonal earthquakes have not been extended that much serious consideration by the contemporary scientific community.
To make only the broadest of earthquake predictions, contemporary scientists consider the Earth's fault zones, continental drift, strain accumulation coupled with fault mechanics, foreshocks and the history of seismic activity for any given area. There are simply too many variables that have not been scientifically quantified to the extent that seismic activity is even nearly predictable yet. Wrong predictions would tend to shoot down potential plausible theories and the public would lose confidence in the science, which of course would be very bad, because if earthquakes were predicted that did not happen, people would just ignore future predictions. My entry has to do with examining the existing heading on the history of seismic activity and maybe examining the question of possible subtle gravitational fluctuations that follow the laws of physics as the earth tilts during its regular seasonal changes.
Back in 1975, China successfully predicted a major earthquake twenty-four hours ahead of time near Haicheng, based on foreshocks, strange animal behavior, and a change in both ground water and land levels. How does one measure strange animal behavior? Locals were recruited beforehand to make a note of peculiar animal behavior, and there were documented instances of events like geese flying into trees, pigs frantically digging under fences and other general animal unease. I suspect that geoscientists would view the measurement of strange animal behavior as being too subjective to measure, unless it were blatantly clear and followed the scientific method for the confirmation of theories.
The USGS reestablished the National Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council (NEPEC) back in 2006 and one of their directives was to review predictions and resolve scientific debate prior to public controversy or misrepresentation, so decision makers are not misled by unfounded short-term earthquake predictions.
It would be completely irresponsible to issue earthquake predictions based on suppositions, as illustrated in the story published by Earth Magazine earlier this year. On the other hand, what if there is some factual basis in the theory of increased seismic activity during the equinoxes and solstices? What if this is an instance of scientists simply not paying attention, and where potential significant facts have been ignored for whatever reason?
Personally, I'd appreciate having the USGS scientists run the data through their computers to see if there are discernible patterns with the increased occurrence of earthquakes during equinoxes and solstices. Scientists are indeed trying to put forth new theories for accurate earthquake predictions, and all have been resoundingly refuted in recent years. I would tend to think that this portion could be fairly straightforward, especially with access to an efficient database system and accurate data.
Just remember you read it here first, and if your research has quantifiable results that can be replicated by other scientists, please let me know.
Lots of my relatives and friends live directly on the Pacific Rim, the most active earthquake and tsunami zone in the world. Take this entry for what it is worth, and during the ten days on both sides of December 21st, and the equinoxes, have fun, but do take care. This entire subject is ultimately about potentially helping to get people out of harms way.
If this theory turns out to be devoid of facts, that is all right too, we all just have to work harder to figure out how to more accurately predict what our home planet is all about.
Earthquakes and Other Movements, by John Milne, (Google books link).
National Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council, NEPEC.
USGS, Earthquake Hazards Program
USGS Earthquake Preparedness, Before, during, after, with FEMA links, etc.
Earth Magazine, Earthquake Prediction, Gone and Back Again, April 2009.