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Shaking Up Earthquake Science

Back in May I posted a story about the discovery of changes in the Earth’s ionosphere leading up to the catastrophic Japanese earthquake (and subsequent tsunami) of March 2011. A research team led by Dimitar Ouzounov of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre found that…

…before the M9 earthquake, the total electron content of the ionosphere increased dramatically over the epicentre, reaching a maximum three days before the quake struck.

At the same time, satellite observations showed a big increase in infrared emissions from above the epicentre, which peaked in the hours before the quake. In other words, the atmosphere was heating up.

Last week an independent paper offered support for this ‘warning signal’ for massive earthquakes. According to the American Geophysical Union blog, geophysicist Kosuke Heki of Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan, has reported the same suggestive buildups of electrons in a new scientific paper:

“The claim that earthquakes are inherently unpredictable might not be true, at least for M9 [magnitude 9] class earthquakes,” Heki writes in an article accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

The study suggests that the total electron content, or TEC, in the ionosphere starts increasing as much as eight percent above background levels prior to massive earthquakes, with the biggest effect above the rupturing fault. The electron buildup before the Japan earthquake started 40 minutes before disaster struck.

…Days after the devastating magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-Oki earthquake struck Japan, Heki downloaded data from satellites that are part of the GPS Earth Observation Network. He was interested in oscillations of the TEC when acoustic waves echo from the epicenter into the ionosphere.

“I thought I’d see a very strong signal after this earthquake,” Heki says. “And in the course of working on that, I found something strange happened.” The TEC was higher before the expected oscillations occurred than it was after the oscillations, so he took another look at the raw data from the GPS satellites.

…But changes in total electron content aren’t rare, Heki says. Solar flares and other ionospheric disturbances can cause fluctuations. So he looked at TEC prior to other major earthquakes, including the 2010 Chile earthquake.

“I saw almost the same signature as the Tohoku earthquake,” Heki says. And although there were fewer GPS stations operational during the 2004 Sumatra quake, those showed a similar TEC anomaly. Smaller quakes, around magnitude 8.0 and below, don’t appear to have the same TEC increases.

You can download Heki’s paper from his website (PDF download).

There appears to be some difference between the two papers regarding the maximum TEC in the ionosphere, with Heki’s saying it started 40 minutes before the earthquake, while Ouzounov et al’s paper put the timeframe in days. Neither paper references each other though, so perhaps Heki did not analyse the days in advance of the quake, but only the immediate hours surrounding it? In any case, fascinating insights into the invisible earth changes that take place when a major geological event occurs.

And as I mentioned in my previous post, could these changes be responsible for (oft-ridiculed) reports of ‘earthquake lights’? Coincidentally, on the same day I came across the above news, I also stumbled across this podcast interview with David Brumbaugh, director of the Arizona Earthquake Information Center, discussing all the suggestions for a mechanism behind the anomalous phenomenon:

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… an earthquake? by Scienceline

What do you think? Is there a relationship between the changes in the ionosphere and the mystery of earthquake lights?

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  1. Firstly I’ll say that this
    Firstly I’ll say that this sounded exciting. Many lives could potentially be saved if we could figure out a way to accurately predict earthquake’s.

    Obviously I read this looking for some geology, but there isn’t any. Apart from a quick mention of radon and igneous rock ‘pore space’. So what we have here is a report on the observation and data from the satellites.

    Still, it is intriguing. Obviously this paper acts as a spur to other scientists proficient in other fields to take a look. I don’t think we can say much more from it alone. I’d love to see a larger picture, rather than just focusing on a narrow window around the biggest earthquakes. Do fluctuations like that occur alongside no major earthquake.

    I’d need to see that this was any better than animal predictions. I.e not just usable in retrospect, but not good enough to evacuate cities or districts. That is the hallmark we are all looking for – that 99.5% certainty where you can argue for evacuation. We can’t do that off of some panda’s behaving strangely and dogs barking, even if we can say afterwards that they did.

    What interests me here is that this is being proposed as a secondary phenomena resulting from geological activity, release of radon etc. It makes me wonder why the forces supposedly releasing the radon cannot be used – again though it is maybe a retrospective tool.

    The paper concedes that this technique failed to predict several 7-8 magnitude quakes, while ‘predicting’ others. I suspect the answer requires further geological expertise. Every location has a different geological history and stratigraphy. We might find that, as often, the technique works with a specific geological setting, i.e. shallow igneous intrusive activity close to plate boundaries with complex faulting of a specific type with faulting not sealed by calcitic or siliceous chemical deposition – for example.

    In which case it will work in some places and not in others, but I suspect the answer to earthquake prediction will be like that – different methodologies required in different regions.

    My last thought is that we are a little odd! We want geologists and physicists to predict large earthquakes (and really, what good is 40 minutes to evacuate a large area of maybe millions of people – we need several days and high certainty). But when geologists predict large earthquakes with high degree’s of certainty in say the next 20 years we continue to allow house building and expansion. The earthquake is still going to happen people!!!! So what, 4 days warning is perfect – quick evacuate, but several years warning – we all move in!

    Finger’s crossed that this is part of the picture for some places though.

    As for ‘earthquake lights’ it would be interesting to see what the fluctuations in the normal background electron count are. It rose by what, about 8-10%. If normal variation, even during solar storms, is around or above that and no lights are seen then it doesn’t sound like a great argument. Perhaps it is just a part of the picture – maybe it’s more to do with what causes the electron increase than the electrons themselves. I wonder what the electron count for the aurora’s is? And what the physics of creating light in the atmosphere is – energy requirement etc? 8-10% increase of background might be no-where near enough.

    1. We think that orgonite
      We think that orgonite derives a lot of its power from the crystal embedded in the cured and shrunken platic resin. The shrinkage brings the crystal into compression and into what appears to be a higher energy state via the peizoelectric effect. Technically the peizo effect is transient. It only manifests during abrupt changes in pressure, so one would think that a steady pressure on it would make no difference, but apparently it does. It may simply be that under increased pressure the crystal is more sensitive to minute changes in pressure from the surrounding environment which then creates a constant series of minute transients that do not create recordable electric current but do create “something.” In the immediate vicinity of a piece of orgonite the negative ion count goes up, and that may partially explain why people feel better in the preence of orgonite especially nowadays when the general world environment has become so pervaded with EMF pollution which creates an excess of positive ions.
      It therefore would not be surprising that shifting crustal pressures create a variety of effects in the atmosphere above, and that we have a poor grasp of the totality of the situation just as we are still unclear about the mechanism of orgonite. However, the evidence of association continues to pile up and provoke us to think more outside the box.

      1. Quote:
        It therefore would not

        [quote]It therefore would not be surprising that shifting crustal pressures create a variety of effects in the atmosphere above[/quote]

        When you say things like ‘crystals’ do this, or ‘crystals’ do that what crystals are you referring to? What mineralogy? What stratigraphy?

        Your comment made me go off and read about orgonite, which incidentally is apparently a trademark!!! I wish I could trademark granite or sandstone – ok those are rocks, perhaps I can trademark quartz or mica.

        Following my reading I can find absolutely nothing on the subject that isn’t the same as every other spiritual practice. It just looks exactly the same to me, just using a trademark.

        I’ve even seen it claimed that orgone energy is the same as what other people call Chi, or even Karma. How on earth could anyone tell that without knowing what any of those things is composed of or where they come from?

        This just looks like alot of claims without any substance. However, my search did find sites here in the UK making dubious medical claims, even about products healing certain illnesses that I think are advertising outside of the law. I suspect they will be asked to either demonstrate their claims, or stop making them.

        1. No one honors the “orgonite”
          No one honors the “orgonite” trademark to the eternal irritation of Karl Welz who first coined the clever name and who has been jumping up an down about that for years to no avail. Absolutly no one pays any attention to him, and term is used by vendors world wide with no legal retribution. What are you trying to imply? That orgonite is a seedy commercial enterprise?

          Let me save you some time. Rather than wander around the internet reading theory and colliding with some of the more visible egos that invariably attach themselves to such things just get yourself a few pieces of field grade orgonite to put around the house and in a pocket or two. So called “TB’s” (tower busters)are not expensive and you don’t have to worry your pretty little head that someone is taking you to the cleaners. Work backwards from the actual experience of it. Many people find orgonite an immediate exhilaration. It often sells itself without preamble. I held off on fiddling with it for years because of all the goofy and improbable lore surrounding the subject. It was only after curiosity finally got the better of me when I made by first batch in my home with Walmart BB’s, 3M polyester resin from Lowes, and some aluminum shavings from a local machine shop that I “got” it. It is entirely a felt thing, and it feels amazing probably because it immediately dispels the effects of the rampant electropollution that surrounds us all these days. It reminds me of the famous Joni Mitchell line, “You don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.” I understood immediately how something had gone terribly wrong in the modern environment within minutes of being exposed to orgonite energy. It not just a revelation – it is a relief and a profound one at that. It is like a heavy weight has been taken off your back to coin the cliche’, but that is a very apt cliche in this case.
          So forget all the armchair speculation. That is ultimately onanistic and unnecessary. You don’t have to have your hand held by some theory. You can parse out the theory later after the experience has inspired you do so with true interest and energy. This is not complicated or hard. Just- as they say – do it.

          Here is one of the better forums on the subject. It is one to which I contribute lots of technical development daily:

          1. Hay Emlong,
            I don’t have

            Hay Emlong,

            I don’t have the materials to hand, but I’m really wondering whether you could just try a little experiment for me – if it’s not too presumptuous.

            I have no idea what the results might be – obviously, but the websites I looked at made all sorts of claims about orgonite generators interacting with EM radiation.

            I was wondering what would happen to radio, TV, wireless internet and mobile phone signals around an orgonite generator.

            Since the websites claim they block EM to remove all the EM ‘pollution’ around us this can be easily checked using the above devices.

            Obviously thats only one aspect though since EM energy might be completely unaffected by orgonite and it still make you feel spiritually great. Its just that the products claim they block EM so if they missed out radio, TV, wireless internet and mobile phones they would be missing the biggest aspects of human EM ‘pollution’.

            Just a thought.

          2. First of all the you have to
            First of all the you have to understand that orgonite does not interfere with microwave or radio transmissions. It is stimulated by them to put out negative ions and something else that feels awfully good – we don’t have it all figured out yet. When we say that orgonite mitigates the effects of electropollution we mean that it creates fields that feel much better than the positive ion rich electropollution, so it isn’t canceling out anything so much as it is overriding. A lot of people think it feels like a super powerful negative ion generator, but it doesn’t need a plug in a socket to do so.
            Secondly, the felt effects are almost entirely subjective as far as I know although a piece of orgonite placed next to a negative ion detector will show an elevation. People tend to worry that the effects will be so subtle that they will have to be encouraged by the verbiage of others to feel anything, but it is not that subtle. It really whacks lots of people upside the head and makes them feel very, very, very good. I spent years making energetic jewelry from stones and crystals and that energy is subtle. Orgonite is not subtle. Let me reiterate – why sit there speculating? Get some for yourself. If you don’t feel anything then perhaps your time would be better spent moving on to something else, but it won’t be like you are out of pocket any major money. For something so powerful and positive it is a tremendous bargain. There are thousands of people out there who think it is the greatest thing ever discovered. The persistence of the orgonite user group’s enthusiasm argues strongly for this stuff being way beyond placebo.

          3. Hay Emlong,
            I agree that

            Hay Emlong,

            I agree that the only way to tell whether it did anything to myself would be to get hold of some and try.

            A good test of the placebo affect is whether it would work on someone who doesn’t believe in it. So I might try that as it’s a simple test. Heart surgery is not a placebo so it doesn’t matter whether you believe or not etc etc.

            What is interesting me with this though isn’t that people claim it helps you feel better – after all a geology book energises me and fills my soul without us needing to claim it is a tomb of spiritual energy – each to their own hay.

            I am fascinated because people that have looked into this more than I have are using scientific terminology. Ions are real measurable things, they are atoms with a number of electrons less than the number of protons. To say that these generate Ions means that people have identified what atoms are ionised and if they have done that also the energy levels of ionisation etc. It is this that fascinates me.

            You know alot more about it than I do. Which ions are involved? Then I can start looking into how those ions affect the body. Its all exciting stuff. Especially since its all measurable so we have a way of checking if this is real or whether it is more a psychological thing (and hence more complicated than is being implied at the moment – appealing to ions and energy levels is reductionist after all).

          4. Ion detector
            Ion detector readings:

            Plant growth experiments:

            I have given away lots of orgonite some of it to people who are not interested in new agey sounding things. I get a lot of positive feedback from most everybody. One common verification is that plants with orgonite nearby seem to thrive extraordinarily.

            Please get out of your head, and out of the house for a change. This does not need to be an armchair exercise. Order yourself some orgonite and go from there.

  2. There is a lot of momentum
    There is a lot of momentum building up on the subject of orgonite as more and more people get some and like it and as electrosmog becomes rampant. I will throw my hat into the ring as well with my brand new website selling my orgonite plaques. My definition of what takes place around orgonite is somewhat different from the norm in that I don’t claim to know exactly what is happening only that something is which is observable by reactions and circumstances of reactions.

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