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Friday, March 25

Burma earthquake, more on Jim Berkland's earthquake prediction for California, and a return to the curious case of the L'Aquila quake

I just googled Berkland's name and saw an article at the CBN News website which quotes him as saying on FNC (Fox News Cable) on March 14:
"What I call a seismic window, this top seismic window in years, is developing between the 19th and 26th of this month."
I suppose I should try to find the interview to double check but for now -- if the CBN quote is correct, that would extend the window one day beyond the day -- today -- that Natural News gave for his prediction, and which I quoted in my last post.

The CBN article also noted about Berkland's prediction:
Berkland correctly predicted the 1989 quake that hit California during the World Series in the San Francisco Bay area. He told Fox News that some of the same signs that preceded that quake have shown up again.

He warned that the moon will be very close to the earth, which will increase tidal forces.

Also, he said animal behavior, such as the recent fish deaths, is indicating a change in the earth's magnetic field, which often happens before a quake.

"But I'm saying we just had a massive fish kill," he said. "Maybe a million fish died in Redondo Beach. They had a massive fish sweep in Mexico. We just had a bunch of whales come in close to San Diego."

"I used to just scoff at these kinds of things, because I was a mainstream geologist until I found out that earthquakes are fitting a pattern," Berkland explained. "The big earthquake in the Indian Ocean followed massive beachings of whales in Taiwan -- not Taiwan, but New Zealand and Australia and Tasmania. And then within couple of days, they had a 8.3 in south of New Zealand, and then came the 9.1 in the Indian Ocean, with the big tsunami, on the very day of the full moon."

"The previous big quake and tsunami was in Alaska, which is a 9.2 magnitude event, on the day off the full moon, on the 27th of March," he added.
As the Natural News article noted, Berkland's prediction model for a California quake references not one but four factors: the spring equinox and recent clockwise earthquake activity along the Pacific Ring of Fire in addition to unexplained marine life deaths and the supermoon at perigee.

I'll toss this in with no comment because I know nothing about auroras as applied to earthquake prediction: one CBN reader wrote in the article's comment section:
[...] I've observed major catastrophic earthquakes occur most often when auroral activity is at its peak in the arctic and antarctic regions. The site I use is: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/pmap/
So far the only major quake within the March 19-26 window that Berkland identified has been in Burma, on March 24; that was a 6.8 magnitude according to the USGS. Burma's government put the magnitude at 7.0 but the USGS readings are considered the worldwide standard for quake measurement.

A question would be whether any of the variables Berkland uses for earthquake prediction might apply to the Burma quake. The last entry on Berkland's website about earthquake activity is from June 2010. So it seems one would have to sign up for his newsletter to receive whatever comments he might have about the Burma quake and any additional comments he's made about his California earthquake prediction since giving the interview at FNC.

There was also a 6.6 magnitude quake off the east coast of Honshu, Japan on March 22, which puts it within the time frame Berkland identified for a major California quake. But I'm assuming the Honshu quake was one of the many aftershocks from the March 11 earthquake in Japan, which is officially named the Tōhoku quake. The Tōhoku was so powerful that its aftershocks can continue for months and even years.

Wikipedia notes that China's Yunnan quake on March 10, which was overshadowed by the Tōhoku one, was near the Burmese border and that "Small tremors had been occurring in this region for two months ..."

Regarding the Burma quake:

March 24, 2011 11:12 AM

6.8-magnitude quake strikes northeastern Myanmar; no tsunami
Associated Press
Yangon, Myanmar — A strong earthquake struck northeastern Myanmar late [Thursday]shaking buildings as far away as Bangkok. No tsunami was generated.

The quake struck along Myanmar's borders with Thailand and Laos, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) from Chiang Rai. The northern Thai city sustained a little damage, according to Thai television.

The 6.8-magnitude quake was just six miles deep, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. At that strength and depth, the monitor said 600,000 people got shaking anywhere from strong to violent and that the buildings are considered vulnerable, so moderate to very heavy damage is expected in homes.

Buildings swayed in Bangkok, about 480 miles south of the epicenter.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says [the quake] was located too far inland to create a destructive wave.
The Geology section of Wikipedia's article on the quake notes:
The shallow earthquake occurred in northeastern Myanmar, on a geologically active area east of the subduction zone between the Indo-Australian Plate and Eurasian Plate, which created the Arakan Yoma mountains. The earthquake was triggered near fault lines extending from the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau toward central Thailand, apart from the main seismic zones in central and western Myanmar.[5] Other recent significant earthquakes in this area included the 2011 Yunnan earthquake and the 2007 Laos earthquake.[6]
I share the frustration of the CBN reader who commented about Berkland's prediction:
[...] Did [Berkland] mention where in the 163,696 sq. miles of California it will hit? No one knew about the Northridge fault, let alone predicted the earthquake! I wonder how many "super perigee moons" there have been since 1906.
Yes, well, as I mentioned in the last post, an astronomer has done a good job of debunking claims of a cause-and-effect connection between full moons and earthquakes. But again, Berkland is viewing the pull of a regular full moon and/or supermoon perigee on the earth's oceanic tides as one factor in the timing of major earthquakes.

When I get too frustrated with the rocky road of earthquake prediction I remind myself of how one Giampaolo Giuliani must have felt in the days running up to the April 6, 2009 earthquake in Italy's Abruzzo region, near its capital of L'Aquila. Giuliani predicted the earthquake; however, the authorities didn't take kindly to his attempts to warn the residents of L'Aquila. From the (U.K.) Guardian's April 6 report on the issue:
[...] Giampaolo Giuliani, a researcher at the National Physical Laboratory of Gran Sasso, based his forecast on emissions of radon gas coming from the ground in seismically active areas.

The first tremors in the region were felt in mid-January and continued at regular intervals, leading to concerns that a large earthquake was imminent in the medieval city.

Vans with loudspeakers had driven around the town a month ago telling locals to evacuate their houses after Giuliani predicted the quake was about to strike.

The scientists' warnings drew criticism from the city's mayor, and following complaints to the police, Giuliani was forced to take down warnings he had posted on the internet.

Italy's major risks committee met on 31 March to reassure the city's population that the seismic activity was nothing to be alarmed about. "The tremors being felt by the population are part of a typical sequence [which is] absolutely normal in a seismic area like the one around L'Aquila," the civil protection agency said in a statement that evening.

The statement added that it was impossible to predict an earthquake, but was nonetheless monitoring the situation.[...]
I see that Wikipedia's article on the quake has an update on the uproar caused by Giuliani's prediction:
Predicting earthquakes based on radon emissions has been studied by scientists since the 1970s, but enthusiasm for it had faded due to inconsistent results.[72] In December 2009, Giuliani presented his research, without many important details, to the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco; the union subsequently invited him to take part in developing a worldwide seismic early warning system. On his return home, the Italian authorities lifted the gagging injunctions against his predictions.[73]

More recently [2010], Italian geologists and officials have been indicted for manslaughter for not predicting the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake.[74]
The article doesn't mention how the indictments turned out; I'd be surprised if the accusations even made it to trial.

The article also notes:
The earthquake was felt throughout central Italy; 308 people are known to have died,[3] making this the deadliest earthquake to hit Italy since the 1980 Irpinia earthquake.
The quake measured 6.3 on the moment magnitude scale (MMS), which has superseded the Richter scale for measuring earthquake activity. The Richter reading for the quake was 5.8.


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