Quick Links To Main Topics In
The Earthquakes Storyboard
Your quest is to find them and announce them.
"Report Inflation" is not a significant problem if elementary care is used.
"Activity Under-reporting" is a hugely significant problem.
Global Trends 4+
Tectonic motions in the Earth have been increasing at a growing rate since the advent of the Global Warming era.
A threefold increase in major seismic activity (magnitude 4+) has occurred during the past 34 years (since 1973) in most areas of the world.
It is likely that a fivefold increase of major activity (magnitude 4+) on a planetary basis has occurred since about 1960.
These findings have profoundly important implications for all Earth Sciences, most especially the current investigations and debates about Global Warming. Earth's increasing tectonic activity can easily account for all global warming phenomenon.
Global Trends 2+
Observations About Trends In Tectonic Zones:
For Class 4+ Quakes: read here
Correlations With Monthly Lunar Orbit Cycles
Correlations With 18 Year Saros Cycle
Correlations With Earth's Perihelion
Correlations With Earth's Wobble
Correlations With Volcanic Activity
Correlations With Global Warming
The "Change In the Earth" Syndrome
We begin the story of the Changes In The Earth with a study of Earth's motions. These motions, though there are some different types, are most widely experienced as the earthquakes which have frightened and mystified humans for millennia, down even to this very day.
The World Trend
World Quakes 4+ Average Daily Frequency 1973-2007
for discussion of this chart, see The World Trend In Earthquake Activity
Everyone understands that earthquakes are fascinating and important because of their potential "threat" to us. But they are far more important to us because of two paramount facts. The frequency of earthquake activity is rising in many areas of the world, making them a growing threat. And, unlike ALL other Earth phenomenon, earthquakes are the most objective and easily measured signals of changes in the Earth.
As the Earth Changes Gallery reveals through its matrix of dozens of graphs and charts which interlink a wide variety of Earth's dynamics, earthquakes are the chorus which accompany nearly all aspects of the changing Earth, ranging from volcanic eruptions to climate change and Global Warming. How convenient for us, then, that this phenomenon is so easily measured. If we can learn to read their patterns, we can "see" HOW it is that the Earth is changing. Once we understand the basic HOW, we may be able to "read" changes in earthquake patterns to see whether, if, when, where, how and why the Earth is likely to change in the future.
I began my Quest to understand the patterns of changes in the Earth partly because of a long abiding interest in the geology of the Western states. Highly varied, many stories of many long epochs, each radically different than the Earth of today, all punctuated by many sudden catastrophic changes. For me, this is all much more than book knowledge. I have stood in many a place in the Western States, and in Western Canada too, and seen the signs in the layers of rocks, collected fossils from vast forests which have been turned into stone, found seashells on the tops of mountains, and observed huge scars in the Earth which tell of sudden vast movements of the crust.
It is clear to see that the Earth is not exactly stable, is not exactly benign, definitely is not exactly predicable, and above all is ceaselessly changing. Every spot, everywhere, ceaselessly changing becoming eventually what we might say is the opposite of what it is today, sometimes very slowly, sometimes rather rapidly. In other words, the more you look at the Earth, really look, the old maxim is proven ever and anon, the only constant is change. Let me add my own addendum to the maxim. Change comes in all measures and there is a season for all of them.
I delved deeply into the science of geophysics, geology, and climatology, partly to cope with the ever growing phenomenon of Global Warming and partly to investigate predictions made in the 1930's that the geological activity of the Earth would increase as a result of the shifting of the equilibrium of the Earth in the 1930's. Geological activity, it was predicted in the 1930's, would increase in trends (of upheavals) which would begin to be felt in 1958, would be widely observable by 1998, and would begin then to accelerate through even larger upheavals, especially after 2000/2001 with the beginning of a "new cycle "of change, eventually to culminate in a series of major ruptures. Many catastrophic ruptures or upheavals, perhaps similar to the Sumatra Ruptures during Christmas 2004, would accompany an avalanche of the crust of the Earth as the spinning mass of the crust sought a new focal point of stability for its axis. When the process was complete, the surface of the Earth would have different locations for the poles of the axis and the circumference of the Equator.
This was a highly interesting set of predictions, all quite specific enough to actually test. That they were made by a psychic, not a scientist, was all the more interesting. There was not a scientist alive during those years who could have made such a prediction nor is there one alive today. In fact no one else on Earth other than Edgar Cayce had conjectured such a specific scenario within a specific timeframe. Thus testing the predictions rigorously could establish many interesting facts, possibly with even more interesting implications in many dimensions, most of which are too far divergent to discuss in the Earth Changes Gallery. Some of these implications I take up in other documents.
What made Cayce's long range geological predictions especially pertinent were his predictions about the long range international "problems" of humanity. He predicted, long before World War II, that the U.S. would become the main "balance" of power in the world during the 20th century and that after World War II, the main conflicts in the world would be engendered by greedy elites, disparity of wealth, racial bigotry, and religious chauvinism. As we can see, the U.S. has been held a virtual hostage to these conflicts since Vietnam, its people cajoled into supporting blindly a succession of involvements in bloody conflicts from Chile and Central America and finally to Iraq, in which all these factors of greed, bigotry, and religious intolerance are at play in a sociological Gordian Knot which the Americans cannot untie. Though they have created a vast build up of militarization, far beyond all the Empires of the past, the Americans cannot find a sense of security nor of justice. They seem destined now to live out Cayce's direst warning: if Americans cannot support a balance which brings a fair play of justice for all sides, the consequences will be calamitous in the world and even possibly bring violence to the streets of the U.S. and a revolution among its people.
Cayce's warnings seem far more pertinent at this time than at any time in the last 50 years. Accordingly, an examination of the physical "changes in the Earth", looking for signs of trends was highly intriguing. Perhaps Cayce's vision was good enough to tell us something about the Earth which science could not grasp. I even wondered if Global Warming could fit within a geophysical "earth change" frame of reference. The timing fit Cayce's trend line perfectly and could easily be one of the "upheavals" of "changes in the Earth" which Cayce was predicting.
So I began years ago with this study, looking at earthquake records. We begin here also with earthquakes. Earthquakes accompany any changes in the Earth, almost from the smallest of events and definitely to the largest of events. They are ideal for trying to understand dynamic patterns in the Earth because for the most part earthquakes are simple, discrete events which will objectively signal the stress vectors, motions, and shifts in the vast tectonic plates (fragments of crust) which compose Earth's crust. Unlike volcanic activity, which is difficult to monitor, and global warming, which is extremely difficult to describe and understand scientifically, the patterns in earthquake activity directly provide an objective method to describe how the Earth actually works.
On the small end, quakes range in size from local micro vibrations in the ground caused by landslides to micro tremulations produced by the cracking of cold rock created by rising steam and gas in the throat of volcanoes which are suddenly warming up in advance of a new volcanic eruption. Even the passage of trucks, explosions, or the collapse of buildings produce definite tremors in the Earth. Typically these tremors in in the Earth are recorded as signals with a size or magnitude ranging in Magnitude Class 1 (1.00 to 1.99) or less. The collapse of the Twin Towers in New York on 911, for instance, were each recorded separately as tremors of about 1.5 magnitude in size.
The overwhelming number of these small tremors cannot be detected very far from their source and thus very few of these events are recorded, or perhaps it is more accurate to say that a great many of them simply are not logged into a database. Thus science has no idea about how many small events take place each day. It has been casually suggested by geophysicists that there are probably a few million seismic signals of earth events year year but since most of these small random tremors in the Earth with seemingly little significance, no one is interested in measuring an exact number.
But not all small numbers are worthless. Some of even the smallest signals have been found to be very important heralds of coming Earth events. During the past 40 years or so, earth scientists have learned that tremulations near volcanoes signal very well what volcanoes are doing.
Other important signals abound. Small tremulations at the edges of Earth's vast tectonic plates signal their progressive movements. California scientists began intensively studying these signals during the first decade of Century 21 to learn how to predict movement along the Santa Ana and other fault zones in both Southern and Northern California. Many intensive efforts are underway to monitor some of Earth's most active volcanoes. Likewise, some active fault zones are being intensively "wired" to measure their slightest motions.
Scientists who study these signals intensely in volcanoes have learned fairly well to predict the approximate behavior of volcanoes, at least well enough to clearly define the periods of genuine danger from eruptive episodes. Scientists in California hope for similar results from the intensive monitoring of California's famous fault zones, which we now know today are better thought of as the splintered and crumbling edges of two vast tectonic plates rather than merely as "fault zones".
Unfortunately for quake scientists, learning the secrets of tectonic plate movement requires immense patience. The grinding of the Earth's tectonic plates is a very slow, long term process. Waiting for a telling signal is like waiting several decades for a "Century Plant" to bloom. It eventually will bloom, but retirement is probably closer.
So far the monitoring has not provided enough "learning experience" and database correlations to establish an ability to make specific predictions for a specific area. During the first several years of Century 21, some patterns have been identified in California "micro creep" quakes. From these some speculative long term predictions have been professionally created, but don't bother waiting at the kitchen table. This pudding will take a very long time to bake.
There is another type of Earth moving event which is so slow that it creates no seismic signal which we can read. The Earth can "creep" in any direction, up and down or back and forth, so slowly that it can be thought of as "flowing" under immense pressure. In fact, it is. Typically, a sizable area of the Earth, such as a major mountain range, or a large valley, will slowly rise a few centimeters or meters and then stop, or even recede, sinking a little. Since the entire field of vision moves as a unit, these slow motions, which take place over a place of days to weeks and months, or even many years, are not detected. Since nothing "snaps" in the Earth, no vibration is created, no acoustical "seismic" signal is observed, accordingly such events are not considered "earthquakes".
Humans were scarcely aware of them until the past 10 years of satellites have allowed precise elevation measurements. Now we have become aware that these ultra-slow "earth waves" can be observed in many places. We still know very little about them, we have no databases on the topics, and we have no idea how significant a phenomenon this may be. They may be immensely important. They probably can be read as signals about the build up of pressure zones in the crust. Thus they may well be part of an on-going "event" which will eventually result in an earthquake, or in some cases a volcanic eruption. It may be possible that the study of these silent shape-shifting "earth waves" eventually may provide the best means for predicting the actual buildup of major pressure vectors at various junctions of the Earth's crust. These signals may then eventually tell us where major quake activity is most likely to occur and possibly even approximately when. But don't hold your breath for results. It will take years of intensive monitoring of the Earth's crust at a lot of points with a variety of instrumentation.
Others have taken a purely statistical approach based on all the records about earthquakes during the past 100 years, or even in some cases for the past several thousand years. Typically the statistical approach is used mainly for the larger quakes of magnitude Class 4 plus. Statistics tell us much about the general activity of the Earth, something about its cycles of activity, and even something about current trends which are now obviously underway in some sectors of the Earth. But the use of statistical inference only provides abstract probabilities about the likelihood of events in broad areas in approximate (and crude) "windows" of time.
For instance, earth scientists in the Pacific Northwest are widely convinced, using highly convincing paleological and archeological evidence, that an 8 plus mega quake occurs every few hundred years "somewhere" through western Oregon/Washington and one is "statistically" due now at any time. Similar predictions for various sized quakes of Class 6 plus have been made for various locations in the California. The only problem is that we don't know what, when. nor where. Not really. All we know statistically is that anything can happen anywhere at any time on the western coasts of North America.
What are we supposed to do with that? Get up the gumption to increase the amount of insurance we buy?
As can be seen, we are pretty much on our own as we hike across the constantly moving Earth. Even for all larger magnitudes of quakes , not much is widely known (or scientifically widely accepted) about their timing, sequences, causes, or correlations with other factors. Our quest is to find out something about these larger quakes and an understanding of how and when they arise in the cosmic frame of the spinning Earth.
Finding these answers is crucial in two levels. For business as usual, the answers are highly valuable for being able to foresee the most likely timing in the occurrence of major destructive events similar to the Sumatra Ruptures during December 2004, or the long expected mega quakes on the North American West Coast, which could produce physical impacts on a similar scale. Even the most conservative scientific methodologies suggest these are inevitable and could occur at any time. Large numbers of lives are at stake, possibly millions. Our quest is to determine the cosmic window in which they will occur.
There is another level. It is for the Phoenix Quest, for being able to understand the pattern sequence of escalating trends which herald an avalanche of the crust.
Ultimately the question becomes, how to find the clearest empirical precursor signals for such events? As will be seen in the Earthquake Storyboard, we can begin to answer this question. These answers come from a detailed examination of various magnitude classes in the various tectonic zones of the Earth. The answers come in two different ways. One way is through refining the time "windows" for when mega quakes are most likely. The "windows" come from correlating Earth activity with the cosmic or orbital time frame through which the Earth spins so energetically with such tremendous momentum.
The second way the answers come is through learning how to see the pattern sequence of the reactivity of the Earth. Geophysicists have come to think of the Earth more as a soft beach ball full of jello. As the Earth wobbles, it also jiggles, wiggles, and sags through time, probably much more than it snaps, crackles, and pops. As the Earth jiggles and wiggles, pressure gradients change the shape of the Earth and eventually forces the brittle outer crustal shell to snap, crackle, and pop to conform the outer curvature in a new gradient of equipoise. This is common sense and in fact it can be stated a priori as the preeminent organizing paradigm. The questions are, does this in fact approximately describe the real story of the Earth and if so, how is this activity "timed" in the orbital frame?
To fully answer this question will take an investment of tens of billions of dollars over a period of many decades by scientists working cooperatively all over the world The Earth is a vast place, it will take a lot of work and a lot more information to pin it down. In the meantime, the Earthquake Storyboard gets us fairly far down the road in outlining the logic for these questions and showing us many signs which indicate that this is indeed how the Earth does work. From these signs, one can begin to see where to branch off from this Storyboard into serious avenues of exploratory research.
After diving into various earthquake databases around the world, there appears to be only one composite earthquake database for the entire Earth with adequate server and software support. It is housed at the University of California in Berkeley. After the momentous destruction of San Francisco in 1906 and spurred on through the years by several other 6+ earthquakes in various portions of California, California scientists and institutions apparently have more or less done more than any other region in the world to develop the science of seismology for scientific studies of Earth's tectonic structure and behavior. Initially they developed the SCSN (Southern California Seismic Network) and the CNSS (Council of National Seismic Network). Beginning with a professionally managed data series which have unbroken records back to the 1930's for detailed quake activity as low as Magnitude 2, they have developed high quality comprehensive databases of all seismic activity in California and much if not all of the Southwestern U.S.
This, as we shall see, is a profoundly important fact. Their catalogs of the California zone and Western North American in general are most likely the most accurate existing reflections of tectonic activity in their portion of the Earth. We will see this come to life as we view graphs of tectonic motion in regions which are widely known to be more active than California but which are very poorly monitored and recorded. The massively incomplete databases for active zones severely limits out ability to grasp tectonic motion in the planet as a whole. In some cases we have considerably less than even a quarter of a loaf.
From out of the multi-generational expertise in California, the Advanced National Seismic System emerged during the first decade of Century 21 to coordinate a truly scientifically-oriented source of online earthquake information for the entire Earth. This ANSS "composite catalog" is created and stored at the Northern California Earthquake Data Center (NCEDC) in Berkeley California. It is well served by an iway server which responds well and provides search software which is sophisticated enough to define complex regions (unsymmetrical polygons) for highly creative analysis. Anyone with the ability to use a spreadsheet can easily use the contents of the ANSS catalog to generate graphs of earth's activity.
We will find ourselves hampered in many ways from rounding out as full an understanding as we would like. Some areas of the world are seriously under-reported. Most unfortunately, for the study of the motion of tectonic plates, two highly critical zones, the rapidly spreading rift zones of the East Pacific Rise and the Indian Ocean Rise (called the Bharati Rift in the Earth Changes Gallery out of respect to Bharatian scholars who in this generation are seeking to de-anglicize the traditional peoples of southern Eurasia).
Both areas are highly active volcanically and both must be generating several thousand magnitude Class 2 and Class 3 quakes every year, but nobody is collecting the data, or if they are, they are throwing it away. Almost the only quakes which appear for these areas are Class 4 and above. These appear simply because Class 4 and greater quakes can be easily identified and located by seismic monitoring stations in locations far removed on adjacent continents.
This is also probably a significant problem with the immensely long edge of the vastly huge tectonic plate of Antarctica. Total reportage for the expansionary Great Rift which encircles Antarctica is way too low to be valid.
xxx edit need to download and dig the factoids here too
There is also under-reportage for Eurasia as a whole for quakes under 2.5. In fact, quakes under 2.5 virtually disappear in the database for Eurasia during 2004, dropping from a reported average of 9 per day to less than one per day during 2005/06/07. This is obviously an "artifact" of the database, a factoid about management of reports. Somebody decided to stop classifying and reporting the small quakes. In actuality, quakes in Eurasia probably rose significantly like the other Magnitude Classes during the past several years.
xxx edit, email Russia, China, and India and find out what's going on.
These problems with reportage create a profoundly inadequate state of affairs. We are unable to fully "see" the pattern sequence of the trends in quake activity around the world. This prevents us from "seeing" the real sequences of tectonic uplift and subduction, how the vectors and energy spreads, and where the action ends up. This ignorance makes impossible a real science of predictable earth motion activity.
To see this point, take the example of Eurasia. Hard to miss Eurasia. As we will see in the graphs in the Earthquake Storyboard, it appears that Eurasia is moving more rapidly than North America to subduct the Pacific Ocean bottom. The seismic data provides the "facts on the ground" which tell us that it is moving the most rapidly. If we could develop such facts (relative rates of motion from the facts on the ground) more absolutely for all tectonic plates and zones, we might be able to define the long term sequences in the shift and movement of stress around the Earth. We might be able to demonstrate fairly conclusively that the Great Spreading Rift Zone which runs through the North Atlantic and Norwegian Sea has become the Earth's primary spreading epicenter and is inducing the vast pressures from which come the great volume of quake activity in East Asia, Japan, the Himalayas, Middle East, and the Mediterranean. The graphs in the this Storyboard clearly suggest this pattern. But currently probably the the best we can do is merely to claim to "suspect" that this is the state of affairs.
Countering this claim, one could argue that the compression quake activity in eastern and southern Eurasia is the result of more rapid expansion in the Antarctica Rifts, which is is pressing the Australian Tectonic Plate more rapidly to the north, thus propelling even the Pacific Ocean Plate. Deciding this issue is impossible, however, because of the vast under reportage of activity in the southern Rift zones. Thus, on the most fundamental dynamic of shape-shifting activity in the Earth, we are stymied by inadequate regionally-focused science which has no where become worthy of being a planetary science.
So, as one can see, there are vastly important stakes involved in reportage of earthquakes for understanding the basic tectonic dynamics which are at play in the Earth.
For understanding quake dynamics at the planetary level, we are confined mostly to the study of quakes equal to or above 4.0 in magnitude. In this storyboard, such quakes are signed as Class 4+ or as Mag =>4+. It would appear that all quakes in this Class and greater are monitored and recorded and that the level of reporting activity has been consistent since the early 1970's. Because of the threat of nuclear attacks, a great many nations understood the great importance of monitoring all quakes at or above 4.0. They could be signals of nuclear attack. Accordingly, the planet was effectively wired for monitoring and rigorously reporting 4+ quakes by the early 1970's.
Thus serious study of Earth's planetary seismic activity in the cosmic frame, in most cases, begins and can only begin with Class 4 quakes. These provide a consistent database which is at least 30 years in depth. As can be seen in the Storyboard, we can see in a variety of ways that 4.0 quakes in all zones have been consistently recorded with remarkable consistency. Most tectonic zones, for instance, show the same simultaneous trend of growth and the same patterns of correlation or partial correlation with orbital factors.
For lower levels of quake activity, many problems emerge, the most serious one is simply that most of the Earth's activity is missing. In effect, we have no comprehensive world database of seismic activity below 4.0. As discussed above, some of the most active, "hot" zones on the Earth, such as the East Pacific Rift and the Bharati Rift have NO Class 2 or Class 3 quakes of record.
Many other other problems arise. Geophysicists have and are changing size estimates. The catalogs are edited and changed constantly to reflect their estimates. Old quake lists are still be reviewed and from these very old "new" quakes are inserted into the current official composites. And so on. All this contributes to less than perfect objectivity.
There are immense consequences for this lack of objectivity, as will be seen in the Storyboard. It essentially prevents us from firming up some very basic facts about how the mechanics of plate tectonics is actively working around the world. Thus we are left in some murky place without the full vision we need.
Despite the gaps and imperfections in the changing records, we can still overcome enough ignorance to make some educated guesses about how the larger activity plays out in the cosmic frame. We can also, through this storyboard and its connectivity with the world, begin the process of calling for the completion of wiring the whole Earth... But that is another story...
Despite the planet-level problem with activity under Class 4, there are many regional zones which are well defined by reasonable quality data series. One of the best exceptions to this stringent approach of only using 4+ quakes is in Southern California where a consistent high quality database for quakes Class 2.5+ from 1932 to the current. It provides for probably the longest profiling of motions in the Earth's crust. Accordingly, these profiles are used in the Storyboard.
There are some others areas where database series down to Class 2 may also provide useful profiles of reasonable integrity from as early as 1973. An extensive and time consuming examination of the ANSS Composite Catalog demonstrates that for some zones, reports on Class 2+ quakes from 1991 on look reasonably consistent. Even Class 2.5+ trend lines from 1973 to the present are probably also good for some of these areas. Accordingly, many expanded data series to include these longer time frames have been used. These will become apparent in the Storyboard for specific Tectonic Zones. Their study is VERY IMPORTANT. They reveal many important dynamics and correlations, as the matrix of this storyboard progressively will reveal to the viewer.
Keep in mind that some areas are void of records below 4.0 or 3.0, so the view is not complete on a planetary level.
Greater use probably can be made of expanded data series to get an even more comprehensive vision of Earth's dynamics. I would have done so if Excel software had been up to the task. The difficulty, however, is that the number of small quakes in the databases, especially in the 2-2.9 range, can quickly overwhelm the abilities of the Excel spreadsheet logic. I had to truncate some zones into shorter series than I wanted.
To bring this point to close, you now know why most of the generalizations in the Earthquake Storyboard are based on Class 4+ quakes from 1973-2007. Additionally keep in mind, that since the quake databases are not considered reasonably complete with accurate measurements until at least 30 days after the current day, no graph or chart of activity, and this includes all the maps and charts and lists of "current activity" on the Iway from USGS, IRIS, and other agencies, are not reasonably accurate for scientific work. Comparisons of "current activity" can be VERY MISLEADING. For the most part, this is definitely a case where the cheese must age for awhile to be be tasty enough to devour.
Finally, always keep in mind what you will discover over and over again in this Storyboard. Earthquakes tend to come bundled together in "seismic storms". There is a definite "seasonality" to them (no relationship to climate seasons). Thus no partial year, such as the 2007 partial year readings which are provided in the graphs in this Storyboard during 2007, provide a realistic basis for computing the the year's average.
At this juncture, you have the essence of why you will see what you will see. Next on this web page (below) you can take a peek at the "Science Behind The Trend In The Earth". These trend lines on this Storyboard will break into the American geophysical community with some initial negative reactivity from the "conventional wisdom" (which is seldom more than the current state of ignorance). Accordingly, the statistical validity of the quake databases is analyzed and proven to be telling us enough truth since 1973 to get on with looking at the implications of the trends which are revealed here in. This discussion is all graph centered, it has nothing to do with abstruse statistical co-efficients, so the argument is easy to grasp. The case rests essentially on the iron logic of four graphs.
Or, one can peruse some interesting summary background and factoids about world quake activity levels, which were garnered from USGS and other places.
Or, dive right in to the trend charts by going to the Table of Contents
The Science Behind The Trend
The trend charts were created essentially by stuffing the huge databases of the USGS (NEIC-PDE Database) and the University of California ANSS (Composite Database) into Excel's spreadsheet graph functions. The results were so interesting, I just kept going.
In aggregate, the trend charts have implications which sweep through all corners of the Earth Sciences. Thus it is very important to establish that the validity of the trends are in fact real, that they are not just "artifacts" of the way the databases were compiled, or the report process which created them, or the eccentricities of the graph-maker.
This is doubly important because of various USGS statements, both seven years ago and now, which claimed and claims that there were no apparent trends in quake activity. This claim seems to be a part of some sort of group-think fetish avoidance mechanism for geophysicists. Believe upon it and you would be saved as a professional geophysicist. Proclaim other observations and you were likely lost and wandering around webpages such as this one.
Some claimed that any apparent trends were merely the result of increased monitoring and cataloging of earthquakes. This of course was and is a valid issue. Prior to the nuclear age most of the world was not interested in seismic monitoring. Except for California, earthquake reports and catalogs were generally "thin".
But by 1973, under the driving threat of nuclear war, Earth was well wired with monitors to watch for nuclear testing and possible nuclear warfare on other continents. Quakes 4.0 plus were not likely to be missed, except possibly in some of the remote interior of Africa, Antarctica, and the ocean floors. For the most part these remote zones are not active and they are known directly to produce little in the way of quakes, although we don't really know exactly what the score is in these areas because instrumentation is "thin"..
Thus, despite some ambiguity for the exact totals, there is a good probability that most 4.0 quakes were being observed and catalogued. Visual examination of the databases, line by line, month by month, year by year, suggests that for quakes above 4.0, the record is consistent. Patterns and trends for activity 4+ are probably objective realities at least back to the early 1970's. For some specific areas of the world, objective trends in Class 4+ quakes probably can be observed back to the 1930's.
For quakes below 2.0, visual examination of the record shows a database which was clearly inconsistent well into the 1980's, at least. Year by year, suddenly appearances of new reports from new sources appear and become regulars. It seemed clear, thus, that the main issue of "report inflation" in the statistics would be the addition of small quakes. Since these exist in much larger numbers than the larger quakes, the flood of their numbers could obviously seriously distort the record and easily create the illusionary appearance of trends.
After examination of the catalogs and some random charting, the magnitude level 2.5 was chosen to test the consistency of the database. The question was: did the average size of the quakes for each year remain in a consistent range of fluctuation, or did it some some trend appear which could signal an inflation by reportage. This "test" rests on the assumption that the frequency of all sizes of quakes tend to rise and fall together. Generally, more or less, within the larger multi-year statistical framework, this casually appears to be true enough that the inevitable and detectable variations do not seem to be much of an issue. Scientists, however, should test this casual observation with a serious statistical analysis.
The next two charts go a long way towards answering the question. This first chart was prepared for the original edition of Book Three in the Phoenix Trilogy. The second chart updates the time series through 2007 and appears in the revised edition of the Phoenix Trilogy.
Average Size For Quakes 2.5+
As can be seen, the average size varied between about 3.9 to 4.7 during the period, clearly decreasing in size. This is most definitely a sign that the number of small quakes in the catalog are increasing in greater proportion than the larger quakes. During the 1980's this trend tapers off and it is clear that there is no trend of increase in size variance after about 1989.
Without considering actual quake activity on a year to year basis, about 0.7 of magnitude in this size variance could be produced by "report inflation". But this is not very precise. We can see that during the past five years, the average size has been slowly INCREASING. So the earlier trend is reversed. All in all, the trend of "inflation by numbers of small quakes has not been a factor of significance for the past 17 years for all quakes Class 2.5+.
Mathematically, part of the .7 spread during the 1980s's may have been merely produced by annual fluctuations in all quake activity, such as we can clearly see in the various sudden rises and peaks in the Global Trend Charts, especially those of Class 4+. To make a determination of precision about the "spread" will take a very sophisticated statistical analysis by those well schooled in such arts. It is something which may be worth doing to more exactly define the "quality" of the databases.
In the rule of thumb bottom line, I predict that the spread is non-existent in 4+ quakes and in the range of 10-15% for quakes 2.5 to 3.9 during the period 1973-1990. For the period 1989 to 1999, there most likely is not any significant report inflation in this class. For quakes below 2.5, there is likely very significant report inflation in some zones prior to 1990, as well as a huge under-reporting of activity in some zones which is still on-going. Both of these conditions are detrimental to sound scientific understanding of the Earth.
The logic for these conclusions is displayed in following four charts.
This is an updated version of a chart which originally appeared in Book Three of the Return of the Phoenix. The data is supplied by a summary table produced and updated each year by USGS NEIC (shown below in a panel of Quake Statistics). Each band of Magnitude Class adds on top of the other so that the top line is the annual total and thus it is very like the other annual charts displayed in the Storyboard. The main exception in this chart is that magnitude 2 to 2.49 quakes are added in.
What is scientifically extremely useful about this chart is that it seriously undermines the "report inflation" issue which USGS and some professional geophysicists raise to deny looking at "trends, at least for the period since 1987. The chart also clearly reveals that 'AVERAGES" mean virtually nothing and that there are in fact long term fluctuations and significant trends in quake activity, despite that fact that many denials can still being heard here and there in out-of-date places.
As can be seen, even the smallest class of quakes in the range of 2-2.9 have risen and fallen along with all the other classes since 1987. That is, with one notable exception. The Class 4 quakes, which are among the Classes most likely to have been properly recorded since the 1970's have mostly just swollen their numbers, constantly driving up the growth trend.
If a report inflation issue was valid since 1987, would we, could we see such large fluctuations and decreases in the smaller quakes during the 1990's and again during the middle of the first decade of Century 21?
How can we possibly deny that a major trend of growth in seismic activity has been present for at least a few decades? How can we avoid wondering about the curve of growth in the Global Warming Trend? We have no idea were it is going to go next, how can we avoid curiosity about where it might be going?
As we shall see as we explore on through this Storyboard, the only requirement for understanding the Earth and how it really works is paying attention and really seeing what is directly in front of your face. This is one of those very important places.
We can get an even better bead on the validity of the apparent trend by comparing what we have just learned with the chart below which was prepared by the Southern California Seismic Network at the turn of Century 21.
This chart counts the total quakes for each month listed in the SCSN catalog for the Southern California region from 1950 to 2000. The count clearly shows that the number of listings grew dramatically from about 1970 through to about 1980.
Since 2000, monthly activity has increased another 50% and thus the SCSN staff as of 2007 are adding about 15,000 quakes to their catalog each month. The data flows through nearly 3000 data channels from 375 stations. This network is the premier leading light of science in this field and is in many ways a prototype of the kind of monitoring which needs to be vastly expanded. The intensity, depth, and breadth of this network needs to be expanded to cover the primary active tectonic margins and Great Rift zones in the oceans.
This is of course a lot of activity for a small region, which is defined as between Latitudes North 32 and 37 and between Longitudes West 122 and 114. The greater portion of this activity is not even in Class 2. There are items below Class 1 in the catalog and these even include events such as "quarry-blasts".
Notice the rise is activity from about 1970 to 1980. This rise we can attribute to "report inflation" caused by the decisions of geophysicists to list even the smallest of detected earthquakes (or at least the ones they had time to verify with other stations). After about 1980, the quantity levels off. Activity is a fairly constant plateau from which rise occasional high spikes caused by periods of what we can call "seismic storms".
The graph file (above) may not be currently located at the site. The graph should be replicated but so many events cannot be handled very well with Excel software. Someone with university computing resources should make the effort.
The SCSN, which includes the USGS and Caltech as the principal sponsors, believes that as of 2003, the catalog for events 3+ is virtually perfected and provides a reliable linear record of such seismic activity. This SCSN catalog can be accessed at http://www.data.scec.org/catalog_search. A graph based on this profile of Class 3+ appears below and demonstrates a real trend in Southern California.
To bring the discussion of these indicator charts to a conclusion, we have all in all reasonably good confirmation that the reporting of events into the quake catalogs had become stable for all class of quakes in Southern California by about 1980. Most likely this stability was obtained in the ANSS catalogs for all Class of quakes above 2.0 from about 1990 at the latest. It follow then, that any "apparent" trend since these dates is likely real.
image source: http://www.data.scec.org/general/socalcut.html
The Southern California Region, for which the graphs above and below are drawn, is displayed in this wonderful map prepared by the SCSN. The red dots show all seismic events in their catalog. Many of course overlap. The yellow lines show the major freeways. The while lines show state or international boundaries. Nevada is in the upper right triangle, Mexico below the white line near the bottom. The dark green area on the upper right is the lower end of the famed Central Valley of California, which supplies a stupendous portion of fruits, grapes, wines, and vegetables to North America and beyond.
These "red zones" are the main points of stress which are caused by the stress of collision between the "Baja" zone of the Pacific Ocean Bottom and North America.
After establishing the validity of the general trend of increase, I selected 3.0 as the minimum size to use. I looked for specific areas which had been intensively monitored professionally for a long period of time. Two areas of the world, both highly prone to severely destructive quakes, qualified. The first area selected was Southern California. Quake activity 3.0 and greater has been religiously recorded since 1933. This was a great find because it provides an historical time line free of distortions which is twice the historical length which can be established for the world database. The question I was asking was, would we see a reflection of the world trend in this area?
Clearly we do see a trend. It more or less knocks you over the head. It establishes that the world trend in the first graph may not be very distorted. And, it is very close to Cayce's dates.
This chart has been updated vigorously on a web page for Southern California Earthquakes. In regard to California, looking at various magnitudes of quakes in various time frames leads to differing conclusions about quakes trends. There is doubtless a long term trend of increased peak "episodes", but the baseline from 1995 to 2006 seems to remain on a plateau. Looking narrowly, one could conclude that there are no evident trends of activity in Southern California, just unpredictable episodes of "seismic storms". But looking broadly, in tandem with the world trend charts, one can easily conclude just the opposite by realizing that the "phasing" of the trends generally PARALLEL during the same approximate period of time. See for instance, Southern California Quakes 2+ Size Comparatives & Cosmic Parallels With Average Daily Frequency 1932- 2007. One can easily draw a linear growth curve from 1932 through to 2028 which infers that the average daily baseline is rising from about 2/day in 1932 to about 11/day in about 2021. See for instance, Southern California Quakes 2+ Average Daily Frequency Linear Growth Plot 1932-2028 (Please note that the void which appears in the trend line for 1979/1980 is a missing segment of data circa 2007).
The second area tested was Japan. Like scientists in California, scientists in Japan watch every tremor in Japan like a hawk and have been faithfully recording since the advent of the seismograph as a scientific tool.
The trend is clear. Perhaps not dramatic, but definite. From a baseline of a little under 300 per year on the low side, quake activity in Japan since 1980 had moved up to over 700 per year by 1999.
This chart was originally composed for the Return of the Phoenix in 1999. This chart has also been vigorously transformed and updated on a web page for Japan & East Asia. A copy is presently directly below. It will also be published in the 2008 edition of the Return of the Phoenix.
I decided to update the Japanese Trend Chart by eliminating all possible issue of "report inflation". The trend was restarted in 1973 to run to 2007 with only 4+ quakes counted. The region was also redefined to more truly describe a real tectonic zone rather than human settlements. All of Northeast Asia is thus included, from Latitude North 75 to North 24 and from Longitude East 115 to 180. This includes the entire tectonic subduction zone which runs from the Kamchatka Peninsula through the Rykyos Islands and through the various Japanese Islands down through Taiwan. A good portion of eastern China is also included as well as Eastern Siberia. This entire region is most likely to respond to tectonic activity in the Earth, mostly arising from compression and subduction movements, in much the same fashion as the Western U.S. Most quake activity in the area will tend to rise and fall in frequency together. Though the total counts and the slice of data are significantly different, we can see another threefold trend clearly apparent. From an average of 2 quakes per day in 1973 (Class 4+ quakes), we see a progressive rise to nearly 7 quakes per day by 2006.
IMPORTANT FINDING: Any time frame greater than about seven years reveals a strong trend of growth in earthquake activity in the northwestern Pacific. There is also evident some linkage between Japanese quake activity and the size and phasing of Earth's Wobble relative to the Pacific Hemisphere. (See Japan & East Asia for additional information on this point).
From this small sampling of quake bases, all in different time frames, we find the same consistent pattern. A rise occurs in the 1970's, some portion of which globally may be due to report inflation but in the case of Southern California and Japan are likely to be an accurate trend in real quakes. This trend accelerates through the remainder of the 20th century and puts us in an era that is at least two to three times more active tectonically than the era of the 1960's.
Background Information & Summary Statistics
This worldwide summary of earth activity is developed out of online computer catalogs. Many online databases are housed in various locations but most of these appear to be "partial" databases of select portions of the world. This summary is based on the ANSS Composite Catalog which is created and stored at the Northern California Earthquake Data Center (NCEDC) at the University of California in Berkeley.
The ANSS composite catalog is an outgrowth of the Southern California Seismic Network, which grew into the Council of National Seismic Networks. This then during the early years of Century 21 grew up into the Advanced National Seismic System which is run cooperatively by scientists connected largely to universities.
The ANSS composite catalog is conceived to be an authoritative compilation or integration of all earthquakes of record which have recorded by numerous monitoring stations (thousands) by various University affiliated networks and some government agencies around the world (dozens) which sponsor cataloging activities for specific regions. Their results theoretically all end up in various ways in the ANSS "composite" catalog
The USGS NEIC catalog and quake maps, which are used by the U.S. government to report officially on earthquake hazards and events for a worldwide audience, is generated from the ANSS NCEDC database.
A group in Britain is sponsoring another world database, theoretically at least. It is called the International Seismological Centre and it dedicated to be the final world authority on quakes and catalogs. Unfortunately it is not adequately served by the internet or its internal software to serve such a role at the current time. The following link sources it but ANSS is a much better bet:
Many other high value links to the field of seismology and world quakes are provided on this web page:
Question: Can you predict earthquakes?
USGS: No. Neither the USGS nor Caltech nor any other scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake. They do not know how, and they do not expect to know how any time in the foreseeable future. However based on scientific data, probabilities can be calculated for potential future earthquakes. For example, scientists estimate that over the next 30 years the probability of a major EQ occurring in the San Francisco Bay area is 67% and 60% in Southern California.
Magnitude vs. Ground Motion and Energy
Magnitude is a logarithm scalar measure of the seismogram "waves". Each whole point of the scale is 10 times greater than the previous point as shown here in the middle column. This magnitude scale of the waveform does not measure energy. Energy differences, a rule of thumb derived empirically, is calculated as indicated in Column Three:
A magnitude 7.2 earthquake produces 10 times more ground motion than a magnitude 6.2 earthquake, but it releases about 32 times more energy. The energy release best indicates the destructive power of an earthquake.
How To Calculate Energy Differences and Magnitude Differences: USGS presents the formulas they use which have been empirically derived. Go to: How much bigger is a magnitude 8.7 earthquake than a magnitude 5.8 earthquake?
Hint: The difference in actual energy between 5.8 and 8.7 is, using a shorthand mathematical formula which only approximates the amount:
32 * 32 * 32 / 1.4 = 23,405 or about 23,000 times!!!
The USGS estimates that several million earthquakes occur in the world each year. Many go undetected because they hit remote areas or have very small magnitudes. The NEIC now locates about 50 earthquakes each day, or about 20,000 a year. As more and more seismographs are installed in the world, more earthquakes can be and have been located.
AS of July 2007, USGS as an institution continues to portray seismic activity as virtually a non-cyclical phenomenon with no links to orbital or tectonic activities. According they avoid charts which display trends and quote only non-trends in the large quakes (what they call Strong/Major/Great) of Magnitude 6 plus.
Also, see USGS comments in Are Earthquakes Really on the Increase?
These 6+ phenomenon are rare statistically at nearly all points on the surface of the Earth (the Fiji Islands and adjacent areas along the northern edge of the Australian Tectonic Plate is the main exception. It is true there are no trends in them and not much significant fluctuation in the annual averages. However, the great majority of earthquakes, Magnitude 5.9 or less, show great annual variation and many interesting trends and connections to orbital and tectonic activities in the Earth. So much so that the following table, made from USGS web page tables, had to be radically upgraded by NEIC staff to quote an "average annually" of 1319 in recent years for Class 5 quakes , rather than the previous "1000" they used to quote.
Enormous progress can be made in the Earth Sciences and in understanding how the Earth really works as one entity by abandoning the dry, boring, solipsistic world of mathostatistifantasy, which is well known as a favorite stratagem of those who are ducking issues. The future will be found by toiling in the real world of real observation of real phenomenon and generalizing appropriately on the whole drama which can be seen.
If the USGS estimates for Class 3 and 2 quakes are correct, less than 10% of the seismic activity of the Earth at or greater than Mag. 2 is being recorded and most likely the greatest portion of this unrecorded activity is in the Great Rift in the scale of Class 2 quakes (2 - 2.9) . This conclusion is based on the following logic:
NEIC TABLE 2 - Number of Earthquakes Worldwide for 1987 - 1998
Located by the US Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center
Magnitude 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
NEIC TABLE 2 - Number of Earthquakes Worldwide for 2000 -
Located by the US Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center
These tables copied directly from NEIC statistical summary webpages
2007 = * As of 11 July 2007
2007 = * As of 11 July 2007
Copyright 2007, MWM, all rights reserved