Do Solar Cycle Phases affect Earthquake Rates?
The issue of whether we can predict when solar activity may trigger earthquakes on our planet is generating increasing interest among scientists. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in its ‘Science Features:Top Story‘ says it is unlikely (May 3, 2012) Citing a study in Geophysical Research Letters USGS writes:
“Can We Predict Earthquakes? So far, the answer is no. Despite frequent claims to the contrary, no reliable short-term earthquake prediction method has ever been developed. Nor do scientists expect to develop a method in the foreseeable future.”
But PSI’s Joe Postma takes a more upbeat view. Referring to the firsts 10 minutes of this new video, (see below) we are presented with data suggesting that there are more earthquakes in the descending phase of the solar cycle, especially stronger ones. If so that gives us a measure of some forewarning.
Postma says this suggests “that massive and massively energetic geological events are affected by the solar magnetic field, cosmic ray rates, etc. Obviously this could have major implications for climate.”
Certainly, with huge implications involved for disaster management, it seems prudent to take the view that this area of science merits much further research. From the first 10 minutes of this video we are presented with data suggesting that there are certainly more earthquakes in the descending phase of the solar cycle, especially stronger ones.
Postma agrees that this evidence does suggest “that massive and massively energetic geological events are affected by the solar magnetic field, cosmic ray rates, etc. Obviously this could have major implications for climate.”
Menawhile, in London maverick British weather forecaster and astrophysicist, Piers Corbyn claims to have made strides in forecasting earthquakes based on analysis of solar activity. Corbyn is sure they can be triggered by solar activity, and hence that he can to some extent predict them.
“We now think that it is not just general solar proton event levels which point towards more earthquakes but that individual solar proton events exacerbate immediate earthquake (and associated volcanism) risk either directly or due to consequent storm activity and related surface pressure changes.”
But such claims have met with strong criticism. In an article in Wired popular technology magazine entitled “The Fraudulent Business of Earthquake and Eruption Prediction”, Erik Klemetti, an assistant professor of Geosciences at Denison University, accused Corbyn of “cherry picking” and said people who claimed to be able to forecast earthquakes were “faith healers of the geologic community and should be seen as such”.
Nonetheless Corbyn is unbowed a insist our moon must also be another factor at play:
“There are also additional lunar effects on storm development and earthquakes and volcanism and for solar drivers it appears that the odd-even minima, particularly the later part ie the rising phase of even solar cycles are the most dangerous.”
No scientists working in the field deny that the Sun is proven to have dramatic impacts and does have “weather” of sorts. USGS admits “The Sun’s behavior changes over time and this can cause the space environment surrounding Earth to change as well.”
We do know that solar magnetic storms cause periods when Earth’s magnetic field is unusually active. This is due to the Sun emitting a wind of electrically charged particles. If it changes abruptly, it causes a magnetic storm.
Space weather has seen large magnetic storms cause widespread loss of radio communications. It has also, at times, reduced the accuracy of GPS systems. Also, damage has been caused within satellite electronics and satellite operations impacted. But the triggering of volcanic activity requires far greater surges of energy and it is these claims that are most in need of further scrutiny to ascertain not only if it is likely but also whether there is any way we might be better able to predict it.
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