Mega-Quake: Is the United States Next?

Things keep moving from bad to worse in the aftermath of Japan’s killer 9.0 earthquake and the subsequent deadly tsunami.  help with writing a book report problem is keeping on top of the latest news from all angles as it breaks.  To follow the information we’re collecting, click the following link:

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Living a world away from the tragic events that continue to unfold, I’m filled with a sense of helpless consternation.  And a new creeping fear takes hold.  What if something of that magnitude were to happen here?  Could it happen here?  It seems that the answer is that not only is it possible, it is likely.


The above expert is no slouch.   Geologist More Bonuses is best known for predicting the 1989 World Series Quake; the 6.9 quake that struck the San Francisco Bay area, killing 63 people and injuring thousands.   He uses a rather unorthodox method of predicting earthquakes involving the monitoring of lunar effects on tides as well as focusing on animal die-offs and strange animal and human behavior.  His success rate for prediction is pretty well documented as being accurate thus far.

check my referenceBerkland predicts that there is an upcoming “seismic window” (Between the 19th and 26th of March) during which a quake is likely to happen on the West Coast of the U.S.

He talks about how changes in the magnetic field tend to occur preceding a quake. Because humans and animals have “magnetite” in our bodies which reacts to magnetic changes, it is reasonable to assume that strange behavior including head pressure, animals running away from their homes, fish and whales beaching, wild animals entering cities,  etc. is a fair indicator that something seismic is afoot.

Along with magnetic changes, the moon plays a big role in Berkland’s prediction model.  He points out that many past major tremblers have occurred during full moons.  Ominously, March 19 is the date when a rare occurrence called a “super moon” is going to happen.

During this “super moon” event, the moon will be the closer to Earth than it has been in nearly two decades.  Also called a lunar perigee,  this event has some worried that it could instigate major earth changes, not the least of which would be further earthquakes.

Beyond this chilling data, I’ve come upon quite a few sites repeating the headline:  EARTHQUAKE WARNING FROM RUSSIAN INSTITUTE of PHYSICS of the EARTH.  I read the information that all of these sites provide, (Just Google the words in all-caps above and you’ll see the many sites using this same headline) and it seemed pretty dire.  But… whenever I see multitudes of websites sporting the exact same headline with the exact same article with no source info… I get a little leery.  Click here to read the report before we move on:

Ok, so the article claims that a report was delivered by the Institute of Physics of the Earth, in Moscow to Prime Minister Putin.  A quick Google search should lead me to more information about this institute, and connect me with their original report that seemingly everyone has gotten their hands on, right? Well…

Not exactly.  The first site I came to was THIS one. But their news portion hasn’t had an update since 2009.  Well, they appear to have a LinkedIn page.  But is has a noticeable lack o’ linkage to any official website.  Then there’s a University Directory that mentions them… oh good! There’s a web link.  Crap! It’s all in Russian!  A quick jog over to Google Translate should solve the problem.  Voila!  Now it’s getting good.  This appears to be an information page about the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Physics of the Earth.  And right smack in the middle of our home page is a latest news feed.  Searching for dire earthquake prediction….

Yeah, I’m not seeing it.  Granted, many of the links that I click on say that they contain too much text to translate, but the summaries provided on the main pages don’t seem to point to any discussion of a North American earthquake threat.  Not, at least, anything that would merit all caps.

Forgive my snarky tone.  I don’t mean to belittle anyone who has re-printed this information, and I don’t know where the source ultimately lies.  But, loud and obnoxious alarm bells ring through my cranium when I see identical reports floating about the net without a single trackback to THE source of the information.  This is not to say that the information provided is untrue, but until someone can provide me with an official link to an original source of the report, I can’t take it too seriously.  Here’s hoping it is false, but if anyone knows where I can get further information, please let me know.

So with that out of the way, am I saying that the situation looks less grim than when we started?  Hardly.  Most experts agree that the U.S., and the West Coast in particular, are long overdue for a mega-quake.  Not to mention the fact that there have been 3 giant earthquakes in the Pacific Ring of Fire in the past year.  And then there is the issue of the New Madrid fault that appears to be awakening with a vengeance.

In the winter of 1811-1812, a series of earthquakes ranging from 7 to 8 in magnitude rocked the New Madrid Seismic zone, which reaches from Memphis, TN up through Illinois.  So dramatic was this event that it is said church bells were caused to ring as far away as Boston, and made the Mississippi River appear to run backward.  In recent months, the New Madrid, particularly in the Arkansas region, has been showing an increased amount of activity, including a 4.7 shaker that hit Arkansas on Feb. 28, 2011.

From the USGS (Click the image for a larger view): This figure shows the distribution of earthquakes in north-central Arkansas that have occurred since June 2010. Earthquakes on the figure are color-coded, with red circles denoting earthquakes that occurred from June 4th, 2010 to February 14, 2011, and orange circles denoting earthquakes that occurred from February 15, 2011 to March 1, 2011. The space-time pattern shows a systematic shift in seismicity to the southwest starting on February 15, 2011. White triangles show the location of real-time seismic stations in the vicinity of the earthquake swarm that are used by the University of Memphis and USGS in their complimentary monitoring activities.

There is some concern that the earthquake swarm sweeping through Arkansas is directly related to a process known as “fracking”… which is a method used to extract natural gas by pumping a whole lot of sand, water, and chemicals deep underground at high pressure;  cracking open natural gas-bearing shale deposits and allowing the gas embedded there to emerge.   On March 4, the Huffington Post reported that two natural gas companies agreed to temporarily suspend use of injection wells in central Arkansas, where the majority of quakes have been happening.

But, could there be other events at play?  On November 10 of last year, Dave Gorham reported on that the quake swarm may have an increased flow of magma to blame:

Is magma near the surface of the earth a bit more “anxious” near Conway, Arkansas these days? Magma, a molten-rock mixture of gas and solids, is always on the move, but when it’s a bit more active than normal it can cause tremors (aka: earthquakes). Such is the case near Guy, Arkansas (near Conway).

On the 199th anniversary of the New Madrid quakes we talked about above, (this past December), FEMA took the opportunity to remind citizens about earthquake preparedness via their Ready Campaign.

From Today, on the 199th anniversary of one of the largest earthquakes ever to strike the U.S., the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Ready Campaign is encouraging all Americans to prepare for earthquakes and other disasters by making a new year’s resolution to “Resolve to be Ready” in 2011.  It only takes a few simple steps to prepare for emergencies, and anyone can visit to learn more.

So with all of this information in hand, I think we can safely say that it wouldn’t hurt to be prepared for a possible quake on a magnitude approaching 7.0 or more, either on the West Coast or along the New Madrid fault.  Does the quake in Japan somehow foreshadow a dire emergency for the United States in the near future?  Clearly, it depends upon who you ask.  My advice would be to remain vigilant, make sure that your family is prepared for any sudden emergency scenario, and remain informed.

The Disaster Center recommends the following…

If you are at risk from earthquakes:

  • Pick “safe places” in each room of your home. A safe place could be under a sturdy table or desk or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases, or tall furniture that could fall on you. The shorter the distance to move to safety, the less likely you will be injured. Injury statistics show that persons moving more than 10 feet during an earthquake’s shaking are most likely to experience injury.
  • Practice drop, cover, and hold-on in each safe place. Drop under a sturdy desk or table, hold on, and protect your eyes by pressing your face against your arm. Practicing will make these actions an automatic response. When an earthquake or other disaster occurs, many people hesitate, trying to remember what they are supposed to do. Responding quickly and automatically may help protect you from injury.
  • Practice drop, cover, and hold-on at least twice a year. Frequent practice will help reinforce safe behavior.
  • Talk with your insurance agent. Different areas have different requirements for earthquake protection. Study locations of active faults, and if you are at risk, consider purchasing earthquake insurance.
  • Inform guests, babysitters, and caregivers of your plan. Everyone in your home should know what to do if an earthquake occurs. Assure yourself that others will respond properly even if you are not at home during the earthquake.
  • Get training. Take a first aid class from your local Red Cross chapter. Get training on how to use a fire extinguisher from your local fire department. Keep your training current. Training will help you to keep calm and know what to do when an earthquake occurs.
  • Discuss earthquakes with your family. Everyone should know what to do in case all family members are not together. Discussing earthquakes ahead of time helps reduce fear and anxiety and lets everyone know how to respond.

And as you prepare for any threat to you and yours, don’t forget about those that are currently suffering from the devastation in Japan.  If you’d like to help by donating $10.00 to the Red Cross, Text REDCROSS to 90999 or click the button below.