Posts Tagged ‘volcanoes’

Sun’s Link to Earthquake Risk Grows Stronger

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Active Sunspot Group 1117.  Image: Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Several prior posts here at IIC have explored the correlation between solar activity and earthquakes.  Although evidence for the link continues to build, some mainstream denial remains.  I feel that if the link is more than mere coincidence, we should do whatever we can right now to address the risks of increased seismic and tectonic activity as we approach 2012 – the expected peak of the coming solar maximum.

On 17 June, I posted an article here detailing the number of magnitude 7+ earthquakes each year since the lowest point of the last solar minimum of the last century.  Between 1996 and 2010, from 10 to 18 such large earthquakes occurred in a given year, averaging about 13 magnitude 7+ quakes annually.  My prediction that we were on target to exceed 20 mag 7+ quakes this year remains sound, as we just hit 20 with the 7.7 quake that struck Indonesia today.

Remember, many of the largest quakes of 2010 have occurred just prior to Earth entering a solar wind stream.  Charged solar particles bombarding the magnetosphere seem to be perpetuating radical planetary changes such as the creation or activation of new fault lines, as we’ve seen this year in both the southern United States and in Haiti.  With this trend in mind, we should be mindful of the possibility of larger and more frequent earthquakes and increased volcanic activity.


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:

Link Between Solar Activity and Earthquakes

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Current solar activity related to Haiti earthquake?

The Sun is erupting; Earth is reeling.  And we had better brace ourselves.  With the increase in sunspots since December, we’re seeing more earthquakes around the world…and it’s no mere coincidence.

The surge of sunspots over the past month has culminated in the relatively behemoth 1040, actually the remains of sunspot 35, which traversed the Sun’s face about a week ago and was expected to dissipate quickly.  Instead the churning magnetic field made it all the way across the Sun’s backside and, in rare fashion, turned back into a raging sunspot again, stronger and more defined than ever.

And so it appears that the long and rather strange hibernation of the Sun is coming to an end.

Our magnetosphere is being battered by particle-charged streams coming from the Sun as well as galactic cosmic rays being propelled into our solar system.  Earth is like the ball in a cosmic tennis game.  Her crust can bear so much buffeting.  Nebraska and Oklahoma recorded earthquakes in the past month, just two odd spots along shuddering fault lines all over the planet shifting as Earth entrains with the fiery rhythm of the Sun.

In the first two weeks of the year, an active sunspot region and an equatorial, Earth-facing coronal hole have developed and become prominent, if transient, features.  Geomagnetic effects are jarring Earth’s crust and weakening the supports we depend on.  As solar activity grows, as it will, the quantifiable link between solar activity and earthquakes predicts that we’ll see more extremes:  more earthquakes, more floods. Because of the tectonics involved, more active volcanism is likely too.

The devastation might take many by surprise, as it did a few days ago.

On the afternoon of 12 January 2010, Haiti fell, collapsing in an unanticipated snapshot of time.  Port-au-Prince shook and tumbled and cried out from its deepest heart, brought down in seconds by the strongest earthquake the country has borne for two centuries.  My tears are meager offerings at this time.

The Sun was also speaking loudly that day:  a 15% chance of an M-Class flare was predicted (but didn’t occur), and the solar wind’s density was a relatively high 7.2 protons/cm3.  We still haven’t seen an M-Class flare yet in Solar Cycle 24, but the chance is higher now than in recent memory:  at the time of this writing, we face a 1-in-5 chance of experiencing an M-Class flare, and windstream density is currently just 1.6 protons/cm3.

When will the next big flare up occur?  Haiti’s the latest victim, but what other regions on Earth are vulnerable to seismic and volcanic activity?  What can we do to prepare?

All of this activity is conceivably leading up to a truly epic solar maximum, which should peak in the next few years – just in time for 2012.  If so, my friend, we either make peace with leaving or we try to save ourselves.  Therein lies the great question of our time – one we’ll surely ponder as we approach the horizon of an era.


See Also:
article by Alex Ansary
and this isolated abstract.