Posts Tagged ‘seismic activity’

Significant Alaska Earthquake Accompanies Solar Storm Warning

Friday, June 24th, 2011

A 7.4 quake struck the Aleutian Islands of Alaska a few hours ago, boosting evidence that links intense solar weather with seismic activity.   It was centered nearly 40 miles below Earth’s surface, and there are no early reports of significant damage or injury.

Having been quiet for weeks, Alaska has been due for a big quake.  Solar wind from a large coronal hole on the Sun and an incoming particle stream from a big CME from the solstice flare on the 21st are both stirring up the magnetosphere, providing a trigger for the unleashing of tectonic stresses.

What other vulnerable spots may be in the line of fire this time – or next?


More Links Among the Sun, Earthquakes, and Mine Explosions

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Today we are being bathed in a strong solar wind originating from a large coronal hole on the Sun.  Just before the solar wind hit Earth within the last couple of days, it struck the planet’s magnetosphere, which in turn may have sparked geomagnetic activity before the actual arrival of the solar wind stream on Earth.

The extraordinary series of seismic events that occurred between 3 and 4 AM GMT on 16 June 2010 may have been touched off by the solar wind impact on the outer reaches of the magnetosphere.  The seismically-active “Ring of Fire” bordering the Pacific Ocean was awakened with a start just after 3 AM GMT, striking Indonesia first with a magnitude 7 quake, accompanied by several more strong aftershocks and followed within 45 minutes by two quakes in Alaska of magnitudes 5 and 5.1.  Today, a magnitude 4.2 temblor struck not far from Mount Rainier in Washington state – a place that rarely sees earthquakes in the 4+ range.

Based on the timing, it appears that the Alaskan activity may have been triggered by seismic waves travelling along the Earth’s crust, but I’ve yet to determine the time it would take seismic waves to travel there from Indonesia just yet.  Of greater interest are the several strong quakes that occurred during that one hour, which may have been related to the approaching solar wind stream.

The correlation between solar activity and earthquakes is noteworthy, and has been reported here before.  For instance, a strong solar wind streaming from a coronal hole also impacted the planet’s magnetosphere on about the 12th of January – the same date a devastating quake hit Haiti, causing mass destruction and killing over 200,000 people.  And the monster Chilean quake was preceded by just a few days by the collapse of the largest magnetic filament ever observed on the Sun.

Surface damage isn’t the only side effect of tectonic shifting.  Unfortunately, the dangers of coal mining may be linked in many cases to gasses released in conjunction with earthquake activity.  For instance, the West Virginia mine tragedy in early April of this year was directly preceded by an earthquake centered just under the mine.  Earthquakes are a rare event in West Virginia; the correlation between the quake and the subsequent methane explosion cannot be ignored.

Most recently, the deadly Amaga, Colombia coal mine explosion occurred within 24 hours of the Indonesian and Alaska quakes.  Although no earthquake was registered in the immediate vicinity of the mine at the time, toxic gasses exploded in a giant fireball just before midnight local time on the 16th, trapping and killing an estimated 72 workers.  The accumulation of gas may have been related to slight shifting of the planet’s crust in the northwestern part of Colombia, a seismically-active region in the Ring of Fire.

According to solar physicist David Hathaway of the Marshall Space Flight Center: “When a gust of solar wind hits Earth’s magnetic field, the impact causes the magnetic field to shake (italics mine).  If it shakes hard enough, we call it a geomagnetic storm.”  Power outages and compass anomalies are associated with strong geomagnetic storms – and auroras, while beautiful to see, are indicators of potentially hazardous ionisation in the atmosphere related to solar wind.

So why isn’t every geomagnetic storm associated with a strong earthquake?  One reason may be the release of tectonic pressure associated with relatively-infrequent, large seismic events.  For instance, the earthquakes I’ve just been referencing may well have released pressure, essentially preventing large and devastating quakes immediately following the events.  That’s not to say that the plates haven’t shifted to the point that another significant seismic or volcanic event could surprise us any day now.

The Indonesian quake of a couple of days ago brings the total of magnitude 7+ earthquakes this year to TEN, and we are not yet even halfway through the year.  For reference, I have compiled a list of yearly 7+ quakes yearly going back to the last solar minimum, which was at its lowest in 1996:

1996    15
1997    16
1998    12
1999    18
2000    15
2001    16
2002    13
2003    15
2004    16
2005    11
2006    11
2007    18
2008    12
2009    17
2010    10  (through 16 June)

Clearly, if this rate continues, we’re on track to exceed 20 earthquakes of mag 7+ this year.  Worse, we don’t know where the next one will strike; all we have are clues, such as the swarm – the second largest on record – in Yellowstone earlier this year.  With seismic activity picking up around the Pacific northwest, home to several active volcanoes and a heavily-populated coastline that could face a deadly tsunami with little to no warning, we would be wise to watch the trends in solar activity and associated geomagnetic affects.




Also see this new article predicting extreme solar storms and power grid outages, etc., accompanying the upcoming peak of solar maximum in 2013:

Yellowstone Wake-Up Call Heard in Denver?

Monday, February 1st, 2010

The current Yellowstone earthquake swarm is now “the second-largest ever recorded in the park,” according to researchers quoted in the NY Times.

Shortly after 1 AM this morning, the 1st of February 2010, I awakened and was lying in bed listening to the quiet of the night.  No traffic disturbed the silence as the city slept in anticipation of Monday morning and the new work week.  Then around 1.15 AM I heard a sudden loud, sharp cracking sound coming from my house, similar to the settling of an old building.  The noise surprised me since my house is extraordinarily quiet other than seasonal creaking associated with a massive elm’s root growth cycle.

My first thought?  Yellowstone.  Yes, Yellowstone.

There will, of course, be naysayers out there who will write off what I’m about to report as a simple coincidence.  But statistically speaking, this event stands out.  After all, I’d never before thought that any noise in my house was possibly related to seismic activity occurring 600 miles away.

Yet somehow, quickly and intuitively, I made a connection between the sound I’d just heard and Yellowstone.  I noted the time on my fairly-accurate bedside clock and determined that first thing in the morning I’d check out the Yellowstone quake log posted by the USGS to see if I could link the unusual cracking sound I heard a little before 1.15 AM with a quake.

Sure enough, this morning I booted up the computer and here’s what I found:  a modest, magnitude 2.6 quake rumbled under Yellowstone at 1.11 this morning, Monday the 1st of February.  More precisely, the USGS site noted the time of the quake as 08:10:42 UT, which is 7 hours ahead of Mountain time, and just moments before I heard the noise – accounting for the time it takes for seismic waves to travel through the Earth’s crust.

So even though I didn’t feel the Earth move, my house may have registered the quake with a bit of shifting and creaking that could easily be dismissed if certain “earthquake risk factors” I’ve written about recently didn’t exist.

For instance, an almost-overlooked mild solar wind stream arrived on the 30th, stirring up Earth’s geomagnetic field and resulting in some nice Norwegian auroras.  And last night when I got up after hearing the sound, the extraordinary glow of 2010’s perigee moon bathed the house in a soft glow that enchanted me on the one hand, and on the other made me wonder if the moon’s gravity might result in increased gravitational pull on Earth’s stressed tectonic plates.  Finally, Yellowstone hadn’t had a magnitude 2 quake in a couple of days.

With all these factors in place, pressure would likely build.

Even though I can’t prove the noise was in any way related to the quake, when it happened there was absolutely no rationalising, no sign of Occam.  There was simply a knowing, and there still is, that Mother Earth is speaking – and if we listen hard enough, we just might get her message.


Addendum:  A small earthquake (mag 2.5) hit near Oklahoma City the same day I wrote this article.  A line between Yellowstone and the Oklahoma quake zone near Oklahoma City just skirts the northeastern part of the Denver metro area.  Coincidence, or part of a linked fault line?  I’m simply mentioning it as food for thought…

Mid-Continent US Earthquakes Increasing Since Haiti Quake

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010



Seismograph, 2005. Courtesy

Is Increased Seismic Activity Related to Solar Cycle 24???

The Denver Post reported yesterday that “Yellowstone National Park has been rattled by more than 250 earthquakes in the past two days following a period of 11 months of quiet seismic activity in the park. The quakes have been gaining strength, with a magnitude 3.1 tremor recorded at 11:03 a.m…. Prof. Robert B. Smith, a geophysicist at the University of Utah and one of the leading experts on earthquake and volcanic activity at Yellowstone, said that the activity is a ‘notable swarm.'” Read more.

As I’ve been writing this article today, I’ve noticed that most recently a new Post article has come out that relays information easily obtained on the USGS website, indicating two new, stronger tremors just this afternoon that seem to be creeping toward the 4.0 mark  – see here.

Certainly Yellowstone sees its share of mild earthquakes during these occasional swarms, but as the Denver Post pointed out, this surge of recent and increasing activity follows a relatively-quiet period, so I’m monitoring the USGS earthquake activity site, which shows today that a stronger earthquake hit Yellowstone early this morning, the 19th, registering a 3.4 on the Richter Scale.

I’ve actually been writing this article all day during lulls at work today, and I’ve just learned that a couple hours ago, at about 3 PM Mountain Time (Tuesday the 29th), there were two more temblors at Yellowstone, each bigger than before, both registering a more interesting magnitude 3.6.

If I were scheduled for a Yellowstone vacation, you can bet I’d be postponing it as of today!

We may be the beginning of a somewhat disturbing trend….

In summary: the current Yellowstone swarm intensified yesterday – the same day that northern New Mexico recorded an unusually strong temblor of magnitude 4.1 (or thereabout).   And just three days prior to that, on the 15th, Oklahoma recorded its strongest quake in over 10 years, a magnitude 4.0.

This activity highlights a cluster of increased-magnitude quakes over the central United States, coinciding with the horrific Haiti earthquake on the 12th.

“There is absolutely no connection between what is occurring in Yellowstone and the magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Haiti,” reported the Denver Post. “They are completely different systems,” doctoral student Jamie Farrell told the Post. “They are not related.”

Farrell’s assertion that the earthquakes are not related because they “are completely different systems,” indicates that he’s referring to a the absence of a clear tectonic plate link.  I suspect that a different link exists between the devastating Haitian quake and the subsequent increased activity in the west-central United States during the past week, having less to do with a crustal continuity of fault lines and much more with other correlating factors which are ultimately much more difficult, if not impossible, to dismiss.  (See my post just prior to this one.)

Here’s what I’m noticing:  we’ve got quite a cluster of earthquakes going, their outbursts coinciding with active solar windstorms exerting pressure on the Earth’s fragile crust.  We should not underestimate the strength of the Sun’s awakening and its effects on Earth as a geomagnetic system – literally, to our planet’s very core.  People pay attention to the beautiful affects of solar wind; the northern lights, for instance, have been extraordinarily active in the past couple of days – but is their enchanting display lulling us into the arms of a present danger?

A few of you have probably heard that the Norway Spiral that heralded the beginning of Europe and Asia’s unseasonably snowy and cold winter may have been the result of human tampering (oh my) of the HAARP variety, puncturing the thermosphere and allowing an outflow of heat (thus, Europe’s deep freeze) and creating a window for solar wind to slam into the Earth’s crust.

I’m no scientist, but I’m thinking cosmic geomagnetic interactions between the Sun and the Earth could be impacting the molten core of Earth in ways that we could not have predicted – at the apparent dawning of Solar Cycle 24’s Solar Max.

If the thermosphere has indeed been breached and the inner core of our planet is abuzz with a polar shift accelerated by solar wind, then what possible effects could that have on the core and crust in totality?  Not just fault lines that can be connected like dots on graph paper?  Could Yellowstone’s ancient, restless magma be ready to bust at the seams?  Let’s hope not.

At this writing these mid-continent North American earthquakes are notable in both number and size, and all indications are that they’re growing.  Stay tuned!


PS – For all you armchair seismologists out there, take out your US map.  Put a dot on the map a bit west of Raton, NM and another dot just to the SE of West Yellowstone, MT, where two of the strongest US quakes in the last few days have happened.  Notice that the line runs through Craig, CO – where a good-sized quake made the news last August, 2009.  Hmmm…