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View Full Version : Tides, alignments and the Sun causes Earthquakes?



Iapetus
2011-Mar-01, 06:14 AM
Hi

Many have you have probably heard by now about the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck my hometown of Christchurch, New Zealand on 22nd Feb. It was technically an 'aftershock' of a 7.1 quake on 4th Sept 2010.

The problem is that a local called Ken Ring has cropped up, claiming that he can use The Sun, Jupiter, Saturn, The Moon and alignments to 'predict' earthquakes. In his spare time, Ken is a fishing commentator and weatherman - and runs a 'suspiciously cranky' site called www.predictweather.com where you can buy his weather predictions.

His last guess was for a quake to hit on 20 March, which he revised to "15-25 Feb" accompanied by a some comments about kingtides and alignments. The quake hit on the 22nd. Naturally, he's playing up his accuracy and some people are beginning to believe him - including some people I know well. it's even getting into the media.

He's using a lot of bad astronomy on his site to justify his claims, especially in regard to linking earthquakes with sunspot cycles and so I was wondering if other BAUT forum readers can help me out by helping me determine just how bad it is?

Many Thanks

- R

Cobra1597
2011-Mar-01, 04:51 PM
Someone typing random dates for predicted events for long enough will probably get one right eventually...just by sheer luck, and with a far larger set of incorrect predictions.

Just looking at this page (http://www.predictweather.com/ArticleShow.aspx?ID=338&type=home), where he discusses a lot of his theory, the methodology seems incredibly messed up. He's basically standing his ideas entirely on correlation of planetary position, and earthquakes in New Zealand. He mentions one other quake happening in Pakistan, but only because it's a nice anecdote about how a quake happened at the same time (or close to it) as one in New Zealand.

If the sun and planetary positions and the moon were really the triggers for earthquakes, why would that just show itself in New Zealand? What makes that set of islands special beyond being the home of Mr. Ring? If this is such a clear phenomena, why don't his alignments correlate to other major quakes, such as the 2003 earthquake in Iran that killed 30,000 people? Why would New Zealand be the primary impact of this phenomena? He also seems to be wrong on some of the specific data claims, such as sunspot activity. Over the period he talks about, one day had more than 100 sunpots, the other did not.

For that matter, what does he think is the mechanics behind his effect? How does he think that sunspots influence plate tectonics? How does Saturn and Jupiter being on opposite sides of the Earth trigger an earthquake? The term "tug of war" doesn't cut it for me.

Correlation doesn't imply causation, especially since he has excluded almost all of the relevant data (basically any earthquake outside of New Zealand, and I wouldn't be surprised if he was ignoring most of them in New Zealand). He doesn't really even have correlation.

Gillianren
2011-Mar-01, 06:15 PM
I grew up in Southern California. People have been trying to predict earthquakes there for a very long time, and no one has ever produced a useful prediction. Let's focus on "useful" in this discussion. A useful prediction would include a specific date. It would include an approximate epicenter--I'm willing to accept a mile or two off, but not very far. Time of day would be helpful but not necessary. It would also be important to have an approximate magnitude. I can tell you that there will be an earthquake at Mount St. Helens today. This will not be challenging. There will probably be an earthquake at Yellowstone. And those earthquakes will probably be far too small to be felt by humans.

Cobra1597
2011-Mar-01, 07:38 PM
I grew up in Southern California. People have been trying to predict earthquakes there for a very long time, and no one has ever produced a useful prediction. Let's focus on "useful" in this discussion. A useful prediction would include a specific date. It would include an approximate epicenter--I'm willing to accept a mile or two off, but not very far. Time of day would be helpful but not necessary. It would also be important to have an approximate magnitude. I can tell you that there will be an earthquake at Mount St. Helens today. This will not be challenging. There will probably be an earthquake at Yellowstone. And those earthquakes will probably be far too small to be felt by humans.

I've been trained for/involved in some disaster relief work, and I'll tell you that predictions a LOT less specific than that are still very useful. Maybe someone sitting at home or in an office or something isn't happy until they have predictions that precise, but government agencies and disaster response units can benefit from a lot less.

If an earthquake could be accurately predicted within a possible range of a week, or even a month, agencies and response teams can feasibly preposition resources that are going to be needed for during and after the disaster. Having an epicenter within a mile or two would be GREAT, but again there is a great deal of use to these agencies of just knowing what city or even what county the epicenter is likely to be in.

Gillianren
2011-Mar-01, 10:44 PM
Well, my hometown and the town I currently live in both know there will be a serious earthquake at some point. One that dwarfs the Christchurch one. In fact, we know that the volcano I'd be able to see on a clear day is going to blow at some point. So we have disaster preparedness as part of what the schools, state offices, police, firefighters, etc. have to be prepared for. Knowing all that could in theory count as a prediction. We know that Seattle will be in real trouble due to liquefaction. We know that Yelm will be in real trouble from a lehar. All of that is useful to know.

To count as a useful prediction, however, that isn't good enough. As it is, the scientists will be able to give us decent warning when Ranier is about to blow--enough so you can, say, get out of Yelm. (Which is good advice anyway.) However, that's not what counts as a "useful prediction" when it comes to this guy's terminology. "There will be an earthquake somewhere between 15 and 25 February" without any further helpful information? Such as location or magnitude? That's spitballing. You can't, say, evacuate an area known to be in greater danger based on that. Without a magnitude, you can't even determine what's in great danger. All three of the major US cities along the Puget Sound (I don't know about the Canadian ones) were originally built on mudflats. They've expanded inland over the last century, century and a half, but their downtowns are still on extremely unstable ground. Now, I could be standing in downtown Seattle, totally surrounded by skyscrapers--or on the Alaskan Way viaduct, which I've never trusted since even before I found out it wasn't supposed to be standing this long--during about a 4.0 and be fine. Saying "an earthquake will hit King County, Washington, in the month of March" is not useful, because there's a ton of missing information. Because if that earthquake were the 8.0 or possibly even bigger they've been predicting for some time, I wouldn't be fine on the Alaskan Way Viaduct. You can't keep people off it for an entire month, either, even though odds are pretty good it will collapse like that stretch of freeway in Oakland did during the Loma Prieta quake, because it's one of the biggest routes in the city.

In fact, sure. There will be an earthquake in King County, Washington, somewhere in the month of March. It's a safe enough bet. Pierce County is more even probable, and Skamania County is a certainty. That still isn't useful information.

Strange
2011-Mar-02, 12:53 AM
Someone typing random dates for predicted events for long enough will probably get one right eventually...just by sheer luck, and with a far larger set of incorrect predictions.

I was also going to say "lucky guess". I hadn't realised he was just focusing on (probably selected) earthquakes in NZ. Bogus!

Sadly, the human brain seems hardwired for confirmation bias so I guess a lot of people will be saying "he got this one right" rather than "he is nearly always wrong".

Cobra1597
2011-Mar-02, 02:07 AM
Well, my hometown and the town I currently live in both know there will be a serious earthquake at some point. One that dwarfs the Christchurch one. In fact, we know that the volcano I'd be able to see on a clear day is going to blow at some point. So we have disaster preparedness as part of what the schools, state offices, police, firefighters, etc. have to be prepared for. Knowing all that could in theory count as a prediction. We know that Seattle will be in real trouble due to liquefaction. We know that Yelm will be in real trouble from a lehar. All of that is useful to know.

To count as a useful prediction, however, that isn't good enough. As it is, the scientists will be able to give us decent warning when Ranier is about to blow--enough so you can, say, get out of Yelm. (Which is good advice anyway.) However, that's not what counts as a "useful prediction" when it comes to this guy's terminology. "There will be an earthquake somewhere between 15 and 25 February" without any further helpful information? Such as location or magnitude? That's spitballing. You can't, say, evacuate an area known to be in greater danger based on that.

So why is the range 4.0 - 8.0? An accuracy as low as 6.0 - 8.0 is still good enough to warrant evacuations, even with a range of "15 and 25 February." We do it for less with hurricanes, where we'll do an evacuation thinking that a Cat 5 hurricane is going to hit a city, and it turns out to miss completely and only be a Cat 2 when it finally makes landfall. A range of information is still useful.

You also seem to be woefully lacking in what you think is entailed in disaster response. Your fire departments and schools are prepared? Do you even know what "prepared" means?

Tell me, what is the size of your blood supply? Is it enough to handle a massive surge from injuries? You can't have a long term stockpile of that type of material on hand as it is perishable, and you can't keep a rotating stock of the size needed for emergency surge because if every city (even just the cities facing natural disasters) did so, we simply wouldn't have a blood supply for general use in this country. There isn't enough blood to go around. With your "15 - 25 February" example, there would be enough time for Seattle to have emergency blood supplies sent in to sure up resources for the coming disaster.

What type of aerial photography/reconnaissance assets do you have for damage assessment? That's not likely concentrated in Seattle either, but rather positioned spread out over much of the larger region (as in spread across multiple states). During and following a disaster, it may be difficult to move those assets and their support equipment around, but with a prediction of "15 - 25 February," you have time to preposition those resources.

How many emergency shelters do you have on hand? What is the size of your emergency food supply/MRE type stocks? Do you have emergency radio communications in place and with alternate power supplies fueled up?

Disaster response is a LOT more than just "the schools, state offices, police, firefighters" are prepared for, and there are assets that I assure you are simply NOT in place because it is either impossible to do so or incredibly unlikely that they are pre-deployed.

Gillianren
2011-Mar-02, 04:55 AM
So why is the range 4.0 - 8.0? An accuracy as low as 6.0 - 8.0 is still good enough to warrant evacuations, even with a range of "15 and 25 February." We do it for less with hurricanes, where we'll do an evacuation thinking that a Cat 5 hurricane is going to hit a city, and it turns out to miss completely and only be a Cat 2 when it finally makes landfall. A range of information is still useful.

Actually, no, it isn't. If we were to have a 6.0, there would be no reason to close down the road down the hill from me; it's rated to survive that. It isn't rated to survive an 8.0, because they made the decision that it didn't need to be when they fixed it after Nisqually. The Marina District in San Francisco is geographically unstable, more so even than Olympia's downtown, but evacuating it for ten days isn't realistic unless you know how serious the danger is likely to be. The gap between a 6.0 and an 8.0 isn't exactly small, you know. Evacuating all of downtown Seattle for ten days because we're afraid an earthquake will turn out to be an 8.0 isn't feasible, given the buildings are designed to withstand a 6.0. What is Microsoft rated to withstand? What is Boeing? Will the earthquake be 25 miles underground or much closer to the surface?


You also seem to be woefully lacking in what you think is entailed in disaster response. Your fire departments and schools are prepared? Do you even know what "prepared" means?

"As prepared as they can reasonably be expected to be for a major disaster"?


Tell me, what is the size of your blood supply? Is it enough to handle a massive surge from injuries? You can't have a long term stockpile of that type of material on hand as it is perishable, and you can't keep a rotating stock of the size needed for emergency surge because if every city (even just the cities facing natural disasters) did so, we simply wouldn't have a blood supply for general use in this country. There isn't enough blood to go around. With your "15 - 25 February" example, there would be enough time for Seattle to have emergency blood supplies sent in to sure up resources for the coming disaster.

But you wouldn't know how much you'd need if you didn't have a reasonably precise estimate of the earthquake's magnitude. Even the difference between the supply you'd need for a 6.0 versus an 8.0 is vast. I wouldn't expect more than one or two buildings which are built up to code to collapse in a 6.0; we didn't have a single one collapse here in town (though two of our roads took damage) in the Nisqually quake, and it was a 6.8. However, I would expect a lot more devastation in an 8.0. It's also true that it was snowing by the twenty-fifth of February, and it had been relatively warm on the fifteenth. That will make a big difference, too.


What type of aerial photography/reconnaissance assets do you have for damage assessment? That's not likely concentrated in Seattle either, but rather positioned spread out over much of the larger region (as in spread across multiple states). During and following a disaster, it may be difficult to move those assets and their support equipment around, but with a prediction of "15 - 25 February," you have time to preposition those resources.

Or have them directly controlled by a central authority, like perhaps the US Geological Survey. And in this area, Seattle's the only big city for some distance. Besides, if Mount Rainier blew, it would be safer to have the equipment in Spokane or Portland anyway. Out of range of the pyroclastic flow. Since they know the mountain will go, they know what they'll need in that situation and have made contingency plans. Have done so for some time. I've seen disaster teams move; I knew a kid whose mom worked for FEMA. They actually move awfully fast.


How many emergency shelters do you have on hand? What is the size of your emergency food supply/MRE type stocks? Do you have emergency radio communications in place and with alternate power supplies fueled up?

Each person is expected to provide their own emergency food supplies. There are lists. As for emergency shelters, well, how many we need will depend on how big the earthquake is. And, in fact, yes. Radio and TV stations all up and down the West Coast are well-equipped for emergency power. It's not as though they don't know what's needed.


Disaster response is a LOT more than just "the schools, state offices, police, firefighters" are prepared for, and there are assets that I assure you are simply NOT in place because it is either impossible to do so or incredibly unlikely that they are pre-deployed.

Yes, there are things which will have to be moved in the event. However, without much more specific information than a ten-day range, there's no point in deploying them. There's no point in moving blood supplies, because blood supplies are pretty perishable, and if you aren't going to have the earthquake until the last day, the blood you moved in to be ready for the first one won't do you as much good as if you just moved it when it was actually needed. And how much blood you needed would depend a great deal on where the quake was, both above and below the Earth's surface. An earthquake occurring in King County could hit in downtown Seattle. On the other hand, it could hit somewhere about as far away as across the entire state of Delaware. The property damage and casualty figures would be vastly different based on that alone. It could be a near-surface quake or one dozens of miles under the Earth's surface, and that makes a big difference. My knowledge of disaster preparedness may not be as big as yours, but your knowledge about earthquakes--and Washington--seems kind of scanty.

astromark
2011-Mar-02, 08:51 AM
The scientific community has spoken..
This Ken Ring chap has been the subject of some media attention of the most serious kind.
A local television network assembled a collective of geologists,
and proceeded to destroy this mans already dodgy credibility.
Oh yes there was some public outcry of 'unfair' and 'unbalanced'... But, we the people have spoken.
The scientific record does not correlate his conclusions.
Apogee and Perigee in conjunction with full or new moons has not been proven to trigger a seismic acceleration motion.
Ours is a young country where seismic activity is expected. Overdue is a word we do not much like, but true.
What we do not need is a crackpot predictor... Risk and probability do not make him right. Wrong is still wrong.

Van Rijn
2011-Mar-02, 09:44 AM
He's using a lot of bad astronomy on his site to justify his claims, especially in regard to linking earthquakes with sunspot cycles and so I was wondering if other BAUT forum readers can help me out by helping me determine just how bad it is?

Many Thanks

- R

I looked at this page:

http://www.predictweather.com/ArticleShow.aspx?ID=338&type=home

and I'm seeing a lot of nonsense and unsupported claims. Jupiter and Saturn are far from the sun (as well as the Earth) so their tidal effects are small, but he claims they are supposed to dramatically affect solar activity (evidence would be nice). He then has another unsupported claim that somehow solar activity in combination with the moon cause earthquakes. How is that supposed to work? Well, he says electromagnetism affects gravity (it doesn't). For evidence of these claims, he mentions a couple of earthquakes, but that's useless - what about all the other earthquakes over the years? A useful test might be to give his prediction algorithm to someone else, and let them build predictions based on data, and assuming they are fairly specific see how well that correlates to the actual quakes. Any attempt to ignore quakes that didn't fit his pattern should be considered an instant failure.

Anyway, later, he asserts that astrology is science (too bad that controlled studies of astrological claims have a habit of showing no useful results). He also asserts that NASA's Goddard institute is interested in astrology (I doubt it, but more importantly, why doesn't he provide references for claims like this?).

I then googled this fellow's name, and it looks like he's been claiming he could do long range weather forecasting for years, and there is a lot of older material around on this fellow's various pseudoscientific claims. It looks pretty typical, this is someone who is throwing out a lot of claims, when people test the claims they don't work - for instance, tests of his long range weather forecasts seem to show they are of little use.

It looks like he got a bit of extra interest recently because of the recent earthquake claims. Ah, well.

astromark
2011-Mar-03, 05:58 AM
Yes... This Ken Ring has been publishing weather predictions books for years... and has only recently spread his nonsense to Ireland and Australia. I can only imagine why... $ might be it maybe... Time and time again I have checked and rechecked. I wanted this prediction nonsense to be real.. It would be useful to be able to...NO its not so simple Ken..
His latest rant points to march 19th and he looks to Christchurch... could be a possible event as the slowly diminishing aftershocks from recent well published events... but what about Chile, Turkey, China... No sorry Mr Ken Ring... You are the weakest link.

astromark
2011-Mar-11, 07:46 AM
With some solemn respect... I see that in the last 12 hours we have had a major earthquake in western China and now a Major event in Japan... Dear Mr Ring, did ya see this coming ? No, its a week early. This and these blow your prediction method... out for the count.