Christchurch earthquake update
MONDAY NOVEMBER 22, 2010
The black reversed-L streak in the picture at right shows the sun's "coronal hole" on 3 September, the source of the sudden outgassing of a huge solar flare. Whenever this occurs there is usually a large eruption, earthquake or volcano somewhere on Earth. This time it seemed to be our turn. Notice the position of the widest portion, the bottom arm of the streak. Experts in the field of of sunspot activity theorise that although this is a view of the sun, when it comes to the effects of solar flares, positions on it roughly correspond to locations on Earth. If that sphere was also the Earth the flare would be roughly where Christchurch is.
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7 September 2010
Anyone living in Christchurch who might be reading this would probably be able to confirm a feeling of high ground energy that would have been prevailing all through the earthquake week, but then went on the wane, headaches disappeared, kids became calmer, people more able to catch up on sleep, a change in energy pulse. There are skeptics who don’t believe in this sort of thing, and they’re entitled to their views, but equally there are those who do believe who are also entitled to their outlook on it.
Tides are everywhere in nature, some in land, sea and air, and some in us. Earthquakes are tidal movements deep in the land, and just like tides in the sea are predictable in advance. This one arguably was. The moon goes around the Earth every month, as well as coming in closer once a month, and in the week beginning 4 September it was New moon and the moon was the second closest distance to Earth for the whole year.
A fortnight beforehand the full moon was passing over close to the equator, which would have provided enough of a tidal force to lift that plate, in other words weaken it, and then a fortnight later when the moon was high in the N hem and just rising, it would have provided the lateral force required to trigger the rest. The unusual closeness of the moon is the key.
Also imagine a sort of track like a monorail that the moon is on as it orbits Earth. This track is the ecliptic, the plane around the earth that all planets including the moon orbit. The moon is not exactly on track - it sidesteps as if hopping slowly from side to side. Twice a month or every 13.6 days it is right on track. And when the moon is mid-track we call it a 'node', being more focussed and in a direct line. It's the difference between shooting at something from the side or front on. The node makes potential events happen. For instance with weather, moisture can be gathering and temperature dropping, and when a node arrives, a developing cold front will usually deliver rain. So when New Moon, perigee, real closeness of perigee and node all come together within a few days, it gives much more potential for earthquakes, strong winds, highest tides for the year (which we had last week), and extreme wintry weather.
The Christchurch earthquake, subsequent aftershocks, Hurricane Igor and all the smaller cyclones north of the equator, the wild weather in NSW and the wild, windy, snowy extreme weather in NZ currently petering out are/were all part of the same system, being that the moon was the second closest to earth for the year and is now hot-footing it to being the fourth furthest away for the year, so the moon is faster than usual to cover an increased distance within the same monthly timeframe, a situation causing international turbulence in land, sea and air which means greater winds, faster currents and higher swells and choppier waves. Add to that the run-up to equinox which causes both the atmosphere and land to distort and twist and you have a predictable scenario for damage. The southern hemisphere has been most affected because the moon has been over it. It will be Ireland’s turn for rain and floods next week. There's a few more days of this before it settles back to high pressure and a stiller and calmer situation, which should be the second half of next week.
And here’s how the big earthquake unfolded. On Sept 4th the moon came significantly within range of the node at 3.37am (5deg of applying), about an hour before the earthquake occurred at 4.30am. In a manner of speaking it gave the moon an hour to take aim. To compare, the 3 Feb 1931, Napier earthquake occurred at 10.30am - and the node arrived at 9.21am, also an hour before. In 1886 the Mt Tarawera eruption that knocked out the Pink and White Terraces - the node was on 2 June, also the day of New moon and perigee, and the earthquake arrived then that did the initial damage (another massive quake exactly a week or one moon phase later finished off the job). The Murchison earthquake at Inangahua in 1968? The node had arrived the previous day and new moon was in 3 days.
The danger this time was always going to be all over when the players, the moon factors all went their separate ways which was by the Thursday, so aftershocks were predicted to continue until around the end of the week. That is largely what happened, and aftershocks beyond the initial week have been mostly under 4-mag. It is virtually a rule that new moon+perigee is an earthquake risk time, that the closer the perigee the worse will be the carnage. Usually the node will provide the trigger.
In 2006 we did a sample study and we contacted TV3 a month before 3 big shakes appeared to be looming over the next month for the Gisborne area. They happened on cue, showing that it may be possible to work these things out. We had contacted National Radio's Morning Report and all media when we made the prediction. And when the shakes occurred within the predicted period Morning Report re-interviewed, and although a skeptical Sean Plunket called it a fluke, Amanda Gillies of TV3's Nightline programme ran a well-reasoned story about the predictive method.
There are 3 times during a month when the moon moves fastest, and they are new moon, perigee(closest for the month) and crossing the equator, and the moon was doing all three between the 8th and 9th. But it was warming up to it a few days beforehand. in nature usually more happens just before a significant event, it's like the rush of water just before the turn of the tide. That's because a lot of energy gets absorbed in the actual time of transformation, which is exactly why there's a lot of energy before a transformation, so it can get through the transformation.
Astrology talks about tension and harmony, and that is a function of particular angles between orbiting bodies like planets, and in this case the earth and moon. There are words in astrology like squaring, in opposition to, and there are names for other angles. Some angles are much more important than others. On the 4 September the node was potent, it was within 5 deg of the ecliptic, and it was potent in terms of angles because it was in opposition to the moon, and opposition is one of the more important angles in terms of creating tension. It's like if you are angry with someone you "face up" to them, so it's even in our language. And it means you are maximising your energies to create some movement that wasn't there before. That's why psychologists recommend that if you want to get on side with someone, you sit slightly to the side and don't exactly confront them. (there's the language again, "getting onside" with someone).
The node went comparatively out of the picture after the 9th, but is returning on the 24th as a squaring, a situation to what was going on on the 9th, and on that day alone there were 21 earth tremors. And on 1 October the moon and node are in opposition again, which it was on the 4th when there were 33 tremors. Other events that have had these moon factors (new/full moon, perigee, node, declination) in the same combinations have been the 1855 Wairarapa earthquake (also an N+P event), the 1992 Christchurch Big Snow (N+P), and, still perigeal/apogeal; the 1968 Wahine storm, the 1979 Mt Erebus crash, the 1953 Tangiwai disaster (F+A), the 1963 Kaimai air crash(F+A), the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009 Samoan tsunami (F+A).
There seemed to be no warnings from our official experts. It was quite clear that something was brewing - tremors were popping since 28 Aug, showing the NZ fault lines getting switched on by the moon as it swept by over the same latitudes every day. This was our prediction for the weekly broadcast we do for Radio Waatea on Friday 3 September, similarly repeated on the Radio B-sport network for the Geoff Thomas Fishing Show the following morning; "you’ll be reading about floods and winds and earthquakes and snow over the next week or so, particularly the South Island ..and this time next week things will start to ease off and we’ll get the aftermath.." Radio Waatea are used to this sort of prior prediction of earthquakes in past years of my being on their programme. During the following week, Marcus Lush on RadioLive graciously congratulated me for getting the prediction out beforehand.
With aftershocks from this one from Wairarapa to Te Anau it gets a little hard to predict any actual street. But in the future even that might eventually be possible. Northern declinations (on 2 Sept) activate north-south faults, such as that which triggered this earthquake. Lunar equinoxes activate east/west faults more. It is impossible to assess collateral damage without knowing the depth of the disturbance, but seismologists should be able to estimate that from the known depth of fault lines that are ear-marked as probable to fire.
Another factor is that air pressure increases around big earthquakes. Many old-timers talk about "earthquake weather". They have noticed that big earthquakes come on very still days, with uneerie calm, so still that it even disturbs animals and birds. High pressure is a factor that may trigger tectonic plates to move. It could be that the extra weight of air on the ground dislodges things. From 3 to 4 September the hectopascals rose by an unprecendented 16 points, the greatest rise in a year as the last time that happened was October 2009. On 24 September high pressure should again be maximised, expected to drop away in the days following. See solar factors, below.
A pattern was emerging in the days preceding 4 September, and it is something we might perhaps learn something from. The shakes were around Rotorua and Bay of Plenty on 30 August then shifted down to Marlborough and Picton, some 4-mag on the Richter scale, then to Arthurs Pass and the West coast around 1 Sept, then one in Haast - edging south. Then Otago and Wanaka got hits on 3 September, in the 4+-mag range, showing the activity to be firmly in the South Island. And the next day, 4 September, Canterbury received the 7.1 mag jolt.
When the fault-line movement shifts south, and you add-in moon factors of new moon+perigee+node you can realise a big event may pop when a node is close by and time the trigger for within a half-day of when that node is due. The new $12million supercomputer that is shared by NIWA and the geosciences was described as something that was going to predict this sort of thing. It appears to have been silent. These events can be predicted precisely, not by a machine as big as a house, but by two human teams working together - geologists and astrologers.
The first group would keep a watch on which fault lines are starting fire and the second to pinpoint where the moon will be over the earth and at what times the triggering energies may be the most potent. It would be the bringing together of a bomb and its target. But there isn't even a university chair for astrology, so such a dream team won't happen any time soon. Gone are the days when all scientists were astrologers first and foremost, and when Sir Isaac Newton described astrology as the first science. Subsequently also gone are the times when science could predict anything useful. These days the sciences seem to be only interested in receiving massive funding for confirming uncertainty. Reportage takes funding precedence over trend analysis.
August 10th-11th, 2010 was the last new moon/perigee (but not as close) and on that day a 7.5mag earthquake hit Vanuatu and several smaller ones struck Wairarapa, Te Anau and Fiordland. Once again the shakes drifted south after the 8 August node.
As we have said, the next full moon may present as an earthquake potential time. Earthquakes cluster more around new moons and full moons, and if there's a perigee or an apogee around, that adds to it. The 24th is full moon in apogee. That was also what the moon was doing on the night of the Tangiwai disaster, and on that night 25 December 1953 there was an earthquake centred on Ruapehu at about 9.30pm which perhaps dislodged the lahar. All these earthquakes have numbers and anyone can verify that one by looking up the records of the GNS. I've always wondered why no one has ever mentioned this seismic event in the reports about that disaster. Was it some kind of coverup to protect insurance interests? The 2009 Samoan tsunami also happened when full moon was in apogee. The same potential will be present again anytime after 4am on the 24th. The focus of the node will be 12.48pm, but leading up to that, the node will be influential for the preceding 8 hours. After 1pm the decay sets in and by evening of that day the moon will arguably be out of range.
As to where, on 24th the moon has an east/west fault orientation, so for NZ only N Cant/Marl may be in the zone. On the 24 September the moon squares the node and is moving appreciably slower, in fact the slowest for the month, vs the new moon situation a week ago where the moon in a nodal conjunction was moving fast and accelerating to almost its fastest for the month. As all of force is mass x acceleration, it is presumably the mass of the moon (greater when in perigee because it is closer) combined with the accelerating speed (of orbit relative to the orbit of the earth) which could apply enough force to separate tectonic plates. But perhaps apogee is also potent for the slowness of the moon, akin to a crawler gear on a 4WD vehicle.
Of course depth is never knowable beforehand, and nothing would eventuate if the 24 Sept tremors occur about 100kms down. For example we can note that the Asian tsunami of 2004 was 10kms deep, but the very next day another 8-mag earthquake occurred in the middle of our own Cook Strait. It was 400kms down and went completely unreported. There was also an 8-mag one in Macquarie Island in Antarctica the day before the Asian earthquake, once again too deep to be noticed. Nevertheless, it will pay to watch seismic drums of the GNS about 23 Sept, to see if they begin stirring.
October 6th-8th also brings a perigeal new moon, with the next node within range on the 1st-2nd. It means a potential for earthquakes on the evening of the 1st . The northern declination of 30 Sept means north/south faults again at risk, so the shake this time could be anywhere between Te Anau and White Island. Again it will be a matter of watching developments a few days beforehand.
Next year, the morning of 20 March 2011 sees the South island again in a big earthquake risk for all the same reasons. This date is the closest fly-past the moon does in all of 2011. The node arrives on the 20th at 9.44am. As that date coincides with lunar equinox this will probably be an east/west faultline event this time, and therefore should be more confined to a narrower band of latitude. The only east/west fault lines in NZ are in Marlborough and N Canterbury. All factors should come together for a moon-shot straight through the centre of the earth and targeting NZ. The time will be just before noon. It could be another for the history books.
Ingredients for the Christchurch earthquake
1. perigee new or full moon? The closer the perigee the higher the earthquake risk. (can be predicted beforehand)
2. location on globe of perigee? (very close to us). (can be predicted beforehand)
3. which seismic drums are beginning to pop? as moon approaches this perigee position.(needs observation but could be automated)
4. if the moon north/south or east/west? ( north-south fault lines this time) (can be predicted beforehand)
5. when node will happen? (can be predicted beforehand)
6. what country the moon's going to be over when the node is going fire?.(can be predicted beforehand)
7. when higher pressure kicks in? (needs observation but could be automated)
1. 20 March perigee closest to Earth for the whole of 2011. Also the day of full moon.
2. perigee will be over about Madagascar and moon edging west.
3. over the middle of Africa.
4. lunar equinox, moon crosses equator, east/west faultline event. The only east/west fault lines in NZ are in Marlborough and N Canterbury.
6. moon will be directly over Spain - right in line with NZ through the middle of the earth, a common time for us to get earthquakes,
7.? Perhaps around lunchtime
Finally, there must also be a Solar component.
Chris, a correspondent 30kms north of Christchurch wrote to me saying
We live 30Km north of Christchurch city and on the morning of the big one my wife was just pacing the house about an hour before the big one and remembers thinking that something was not right. In her words it was very still as if there was no air outside.
This observation, 'as if there was no air outside' is intriguing. Why should the air go so suffocatingly still? One possibility is that the earthquake may have already been underway a few seconds before she heard or felt it, and there may have been an electrical component that somehow filled the air like a charge. Perhaps a solar burst?
Another correspondent, Leon, writes " I actually awoke to a noise preceding the shake. I can only describe it as a highly magnified static electricity sound (a crackling). I thought at first that it was hail on my iron roof. Then all the geese made a hasty retreat in a deafening united squawk as they took off from the nearby river and lake. My son downstairs had his curtains pulled and saw blue flashes preceding the shake. He also heard a strange noise preempting the strike".
And is it just coincidence that sunspots were greater in number on and around the day of the Christchurch earthquake than they had been since 12 August, 23 days before? In science there is no such thing as coincidence.
6/09: 58 peak of activity
17/09: 46 (empty eruption)
So which is the culprit, moon..or Sun..or both? Well, it must always be both. The moon answers to the Sun. It is a planet that orbits the Sun just as the Earth does. If it was not caught in the Earth's gravity the moon may have long ago moved millions of kms away and joined the orbiting planets in slow rotations around the Sun. Sun and moon work together. The Sun is the engine and the moon is the driver. Energy for events comes from the Sun but the moon is the trigger. As such it governs exact timing of extremes. Imagine how much energy would be required to move fault lines in the earth. It is like a theatrical production, e.g a fireworks display, where many occupations and roles are brought together and co-ordinated. Such a production is not random, does not just happen for the fun of it, but takes careful planning and precision timing.
Imagine holding a stick in your hand and breaking it. You really have to exert great pressure. It doesn't snap in half at random, just because you are looking at it. The law of nature is that all sticks that break require something bigger than the stick to break them. Otherwise the integrity of the stick would be able to withstand the breakage. Massive forces are at work. An earthquake is the same. We can only imagine that to move and divide fields, shake entire cities and change the shape of a region, a gigantic force would be required that would have to emanate from something at least as large as the Sun, with a Director of Operations overseeing the event and focussing the energy - large and constantly orbiting at close range - the innocent-looking moon.
Update: 24 September, the moon's node time was 4am. At 3.40am, 20mins from moon 'trigger' time, there was a 4.6mag shake centred at Rolleston at 8.6kms depth. It was squaring the node with 4deg applying. The moon's angle to the horizon was exactly halfway between overhead and moon-setting, one of Sir Isaac Newton's angles of "force corridor". (Earthquake reference number 3377148/G)
This morning's earthquake at Rolleston was the 22nd most powerful out of 800. It was also the biggest one in the Christchurch region since 8 September.
Next risk period: Oct 1st-7th
Update: 27 September (interview NewstalkZB Christchurch, Mike Yardley, 11.30am)
The full moon had the potential to bring more earthquake activity, and since Saturday morning over a dozen sizeable aftershocks at the larger end of the scale have rocked the region. And the one on the 24th, the 4.59 mag at Rolleston, biggest since the 8th, happened at 3.40am and the node came within 5deg range at 4am! I am not an earthquake expert, I can only suggest these timings because of the moon's movements. The geologists and metservice with their supercomputer should be able to tell us the rest. But it's the node that seems to do the damage. The node was also within an hour of the big 7.1 mag one on the 4 Sept.
So I suggest to always look for that node first, around the time when the moon is either new, full, in perigee, apogee, at main declination points and especially at combinations of these factors. On 4 Sept. the moon was in opposition to its node and that was a very powerful angle. So between 4 and 8 Sept was perhaps always going to be the most potent time.
That combination is coming up again. Sept 30 is the day of the northern declination, which means the moon is the furthest point north, that was equivalent to the 2nd of September. If the seismic drums start to crackle into life around 30 Sept we'll know something is brewing. It'll be a matter for the geologists to start telling where they are most moving and those may be the parts of the country to watch. Last time, the activity started to drift further and further south in the days preceding the big one at Darfield. Also, the sunspots are starting to increase, on 4 Sept there were 54 and 3 days previously the number was 27, and they stayed in the 50s until 6 Sept and then dropped right back by half each day after that. On 23rd=26, 24th=34 and yesterday it was 40
The northern declination, (on 30 Sept) is a common earthquake time, and also a whale and dolphin stranding time, presumably because underwater earthquakes knock them out when they swim near the ocean floor chasing food. And that will cover 1-3 Oct. If we get whales coming ashore somewhere around our coastline we can assume quakes near to NZ. Then we have 6-8 October which is when the moon is in new moon, close to the earth and crossing the equator heading south, a repeat of 8 and 9 Sept. The moon won't be as close to earth on 7 Oct as it was on the 8 Sept, when it was second closest for the year. On the 7 Oct the moon is 6th closest for the year, but that's still powerful.
So on 1 Oct(N dec=30th) we have node kicking in at 4.30am and once again the moon is in opposition to the node. It stays applying all day until midnight on 1 Oct. At the node time it will be just starting to cross the longitude of NZ, even though it will be up at the latitude of Mexico. On 5 Oct (crossing equ=6 Oct) the moon is at the trine angle to the node, another powerful time. On 7 Oct (Perigee 6) the moon squares the node, and that's what it was on 24 September, so that has to be the next time to watch. And on 7 Oct. node time will be from 9.30am to 10.30pm.
And then the moon starts to lose strength in that regard, until the next time which will be 13 Oct (S dec=12 Oct) in the evening, when the moon will be overhead in our hemisphere just past its furthest point south.
There may be earthquakes at these times, there is potential. We don't know how far down they'll be if they do arrive, that's two ifs down the track. We can't tell where will be the most at risk but obviously the tectonic plates in the Christchurch area have been loosened and they are getting activated every time the moon comes past at the moment. Because the moon isn't as close as it was on 4 September it may not be as bad a shake again, but that's only an assumption. It could easily be closer to the surface which would counteract perigeal proximity.
One would be irresponsible in the extreme if one said everyone should clear out of Christchurch on particular days, but parents could stay close to their kids if they can just to reassure them with their close proximity or availability, and just make sure kids can reach them on a phone if they want to be reassured. It's a time for people to stay in touch, for being neighbourly, so perhaps an earthquake has a social upside. I appreciate what a fearful time this must be for some, especially the elderly living alone. We should remember that nature is always there and in charge, and we have to live our lives as best we can subject to the grace of fate.
It is little use looking for people to blame, like governments or councils, or shooting messengers who are only trying their best and kindest way to forewarn. Perhaps one positive move would be to establish a communication relationship with your local geologist or seismologist. The University of Canterbury must have contact numbers for these experts, who are taxpayer-salaried and should be able to settle people's minds. It is on a par with the Ministry of Health being there to issue bulletins in times of pandemics.
Update: 30 Sept
At 5.14pm yesterday, when the moon was EXACTLY underfoot on the opposite side of the earth to NZ (in astrology called the IC position, or the 4th House) there occurred a substantial earthquake measuring 6.4mag off White Island. Although this was 280Km deep rather than just around 10kms, and although this time not in the Canterbury fault catchment, nevertheless it gave folk from Hastings a good jolt and is a reminder that the earth is again vulnerable to sunspots, which have been numbering highly, in the 50s in the last two days (as was the case for the period 4-8 Sept) and is a reminder as to the moon's position, which is coming up again to northern declination (last month it was on 2 September). A 7.2mag has also struck today off Indonesia, a 5.4 mag in Samoa, a 5.6 mag in Japan and a 5.7 mag in Southern Iran.
For Christchurch? NewstalkZB also reported that today a shallow, 4.5 aftershock centred 20km southwest of the Christchurch city hit just after 9.30am this morning. A sizeable aftershock was felt in Canterbury. The quake at 4.5 on the Richter scale was quite shallow - only 10 km deep. The aftershock at 9.39am was centred 20 km southwest of Christchurch. GeoNet says it's the largest quake in Canterbury for some time. Callers to the radio station reported it was felt in from Linwood to Rolleston.More will presumably occur around the globe in the next few days.
Our prediction was for a step-up in seismic activity from 1 October onwards, until the 7th. However NZ is a small country, with a fault line running almost its entire length. At 4am in the 1st of October comes the first nodal trigger. An hour later the moon is overhead and in opposition to the node. It will keep applying until just after lunch.
Is there a need to panic? Not really. If the earthquakes this time are to be around 200kms down then it bodes well. If my inbox is anything to go by it seems it has also become somewhat of a national game picking the day of the next shake. The important thing is probably to stay vigilant, particularly with children, who perhaps should not play unsupervised in and around aging brick and stone structures.
Update 2 October 2010
Terry writes I have read your Earthquake predictions with interest and why the Christchurch Quake happened. If you actually put your beliefs into practice it means we should have had major quakes pretty much on a regular over the last few hundred years in New Zealand. I believe the last major quake for Canterbury was approximately 500 years ago somewhere in the North Canterbury region. According to your earthquake theories we should have had large quakes on a regular basis over the last few hundred years as the moon gets to close to the earth every month and that simply hasn’t been the case. I know there have been large earthquakes around the world but not that many and if we use your theory there should have been hundreds if not thousands more of huge magnitudes. Tidal waves haven’t been anymore significant than they normally have been over last the tens of years so I struggle with what you have to say as it simply doesn’t add up.
My reply is that it is not true that NZ has not had seismic events on a regular basis, being as we are, very tectonically active from Te Anau to the Kermadecs. We are on the Ring of Fire and have been for aeons. It is also true but seems to be largely unattended to, that the amplitude of land tides that precipitate earthquakes maximise in September just as the sea and air tides do, that lead to maximum annual king/spring tides and equinoctial wind turbulence. It is therefore no surprise that September should bring heightened earthquake activity, especially as the perigee was so unusually powerful at second closest, a situation that only occurs every 4 years. It is also somewhat misleading to claim that Canterbury is an area unfamiliar with tectonic disturbance. Serious stand-out earthquake activity in Canterbury in a 50 year period is listed below.
1869 Christchurch magnitude 5 (epicentre Addington)
1870 magnitude 5.5 (epicentre Lake Ellesmere)
1881 Castle Hill 6.0 magnitude (epicentre Cass)
1888 North Canterbury 7 - 7.3 magnitude (epicentre Hope Fault, west of Hanmer Springs)
1901 Cheviot 6.9 magnitude (epicentre Parnassus)
1922 Motunau 6.4 magnitude (epicentre Motunau/Scargill)
1929 Arthurs Pass 7.01 magnitude (epicentre Kakapo Fault at Arthurs Pass)
1929 Buller quake 7.8 magnitude
In fact, of the 11 largest earthquakes in NZ’s recent history, as shown in the next list, 4 have been in Canterbury. It may be noted that moon combinations feature significantly in most events.
8.2 on the Richter scale: Wairarapa, January 23, 1855 – (19 January new moon+perigee, closest perigee for year) the worst earthquake since European colonisation killed nine and lifted up large tracts of Wellington Harbour.
7.8: Hawke's Bay, February 3, 1931 – (3 February = full moon+perigee, 4th closest perigee for year) 256 people died, the largest loss of life and most extensive damage in this country's history.
7.7: Murchison, June 17, 1929 – (8 June was second closest perigee for year) 17 killed and rumbling heard as far away as New Plymouth.
7.6: Pongaroa, March 5, 1934 - shook the lower North Island and felt as far away as Auckland and Dunedin.
7.5: Marlborough, October 16, 1848 – (13 October = full moon+perigee) the largest in a series of earthquakes to hit the region that year.
7.2: Wairarapa, June 24, 1942 – (28 June = full moon+perigee, second closest perigee for year), one killed and extensive damage to lower North Island.
7.1: North Canterbury, September 1, 1888 - shook the Amuri district.
7.0: Wairarapa, August 2, 1942 - damaged buildings but no loss of life.
7.0: Inangahua, May 24, 1968 – (26 May = new moon+apogee, furthest apogee for whole year), killed three and caused widespread damage.
6.8: Gisborne, December 20, 2007 – (22 Dec = perigee, 24th=full moon) Caused widespread damage in the area.
6.1: Edgecumbe, March 2, 1987 – (2 days after new moon, 4 days after perigee) shallow earthquake, very destructive despite size.
Perhaps not enough publicity has been drawn to NZ's volatile history, and it has taken a shake in a major city to highlight it. Normally such events happen away from buildings, and so have not been as newsworthy. Also, we tend to forget news that does not concern us and our social circle. It does not mean Canterbury is the new Mt Vesuvius, nor that our geological history must be rewritten, nor even that humans and global warming is somehow to blame as has been suggested. It simply reminds us that the Te Anau earthquake, if it was further north would have been the timing of the destruction rather than now, and in a year or so another may occur in the South island again because this is a country of eruptions, volcanoes and ground disturbances, and it is no new thing. From below the ground at the level of faults the South Island above is a small area, and an epicentre has no respect for buildings. As NZ gathers history and we can look back on regular earthquake damage through the years, we are forced to adjust our attitudes. Our older buildings must if possible be modified architecturally so they are more earthquake resistant, and new projects subject to adequate safety codes. Earthquake-frequent Los Angeles is a good example of a US city without skyscrapers. Perhaps we just have to get our heads around a reality that we didn't have to look too seriously at before.
Update 3 October
Earthquakes have been clustering in the Christchurch region in these first few days of October. There were no less than 19 shakes on 1 Oct., 17 on 2 Oct., and 11 on the 3 Oct. In the 24 hrs preceding midnight on 3 October there were 15 shakes of 3-mag, and 12 shakes of 2-mag. ref: http://quake.crowe.co.nz/QuakeMagnitude/default.aspx.
On the 4 Oct. I would pick 1.30pm – 8.30pm as perhaps the most active time, and on 5 Oct, perhaps 10.30am - midnight.
Numbers of shakes thus far. Ref: http://quake.crowe.co.nz/QuakeList/
Clustering over the past few days: http://quake.crowe.co.nz/QuakeBreakdown/default.aspx
Numbers and magnitudes of shakes are dwindling, as sunspots decrease and the moon is between peak points. Renewed clusters should occur 6-8 October, then a relatively dormant period is likely until 13 October.
Update 6 October
Earthquake activity has stepped up since 1 Oct, with 11x shakes on 30 Sept jumping up to 19x shakes on 1 Oct, 19x shakes on 2 Oct, 19x shakes on 3 Oct, 20x shakes on 4 Oct (the largest a 5.01mag), and 20x shakes on 5 Oct. Although there are other factors, lunar nodal activity indicates the following potential for activity over the next few days:
6th: fairly quiet
7th Oct: 9am-midnight
8th: quiet day
9th Oct: 9am-11pm
13th: 3pm-10am following morning
The rare opposition of Jupiter and Saturn, the two gas giants, had been happening since May 2010. This ceased on 6 Sept. It is to be noted that Jupiter/Saturn in opposition or conjunction is believed to cause an increase in sunspot activity. Sunspot numbers rose by double between April and June of this year, as in the following table from
OBSERVED MONTHLY SUNSPOT NUMBERS
1995 24.2 29.9 31.1 14.0 14.5 15.6 14.5 14.3 11.8 21.1 9.0 10.0
1996 11.5 4.4 9.2 4.8 5.5 11.8 8.2 14.4 1.6 0.9 17.9 13.3
1997 5.7 7.6 8.7 15.5 18.5 12.7 10.4 24.4 51.3 22.8 39.0 41.2
1998 31.9 40.3 54.8 53.4 56.3 70.7 66.6 92.2 92.9 55.5 74.0 81.9
1999 62.0 66.3 68.8 63.7 106.4 137.7 113.5 93.7 71.5 116.7 133.2 84.6
2000 90.1 112.9 138.5 125.5 121.6 125.5 170.1 130.5 109.7 99.4 106.8 104.4
2001 95.6 80.6 113.5 107.7 96.6 134.0 81.8 106.4 150.7 125.5 106.5 132.2
2002 114.1 107.4 98.4 120.7 120.8 88.3 99.6 116.4 109.6 97.5 95.0 81.6
2003 79.5 46.2 61.5 60.0 55.2 77.4 85.0 72.7 48.8 65.6 67.2 47.0
2004 37.2 46.0 48.9 39.3 41.5 43.2 51.0 40.9 27.7 48.4 43.7 17.9
2005 31.3 29.2 24.5 24.4 42.6 39.6 39.9 36.4 22.1 8.5 18.0 41.2
2006 15.4 5.0 10.8 30.2 22.2 13.9 12.2 12.9 14.5 10.4 21.5 13.6
2007 16.9 10.6 4.8 3.7 11.7 12.0 10.0 6.2 2.4 0.9 1.7 10.1
2008 3.4 2.1 9.3 2.9 2.9 3.1 0.5 0.5 1.1 2.9 4.1 0.8
2009 1.5 1.4 0.7 1.2 2.9 2.6 3.5 0.0 4.2 4.6 4.2 10.6
2010 13.1 18.6 15.4 7.9 8.8 13.5 16.1 19.6 25.2
Sunspots were last as high as for Sept 2010, in April 2006. As the Jupiter/Saturn opposition moves away, the strength of sunspots may diminish until the next strong angle between these planets, which will be another J/S opposition on 10 March -10 April, 2011, and accordingly when sunspots may again be on the increase. With the lunar node (opposition also) kicking in on 13-14 March, 17-18 March (trine), and 19-20 March (square), if this is a factor then the risk of earthquakes rises in that month, as we have already discussed earlier. On 22 March, node is sextile, and 26 March node is conjunct. On 20 March the moon is closest to earth for the whole year.
Moon in 12th House factor?
In a study done with 2581 earthquakes in the 21 year period from 1967 - 1988, isolating the quakes that were at 50N to 60N, it was found that nearly 20% of the quakes occurred with the Moon in the 12th house and 12% had the Moon in the first house, in other words 30% of quakes occurred as the moon was just starting to rise. This was for the northern hemisphere and no known study has been done down here. But one can assume the same process would apply in both hemispheres. Is it coincidence that on 4 Sept. the moon over Christchurch was in the 12th House from 3.38am-5am and the earthquake was at 4.30am?
Update 7 October
Was 2010 a repeat of 1957?
In 1957 the sunspot cycle roughly matched 2010, as did the lunar declination cycle. So what was that September like? I have used the Geonet data freely available on this excellent site: http://magma.geonet.org.nz/resources/quakesearch/. September of 1957, it seems, was an active earthquake month for Canterbury, with 9 shakes above 3mag, comprising only one below 4 mag, one above 5mag, and the rest 4-5mag. Five were 12kms depth. All were in the top half of the South island, from South Canterbury to Cape Kidnappers.
So who says Canterbury doesn't get earthquakes? October 1957 numbers reduced somewhat to half that number of shakes, and all these were at a greater depth.
November 1957 saw four quake events, averaging lesser intensity, and further to the south.
In December there were five, all above 4mag, with a big one of 6.1-mag. off Te Anau.
January of 1958 was an active month, this time mostly in the North Island at the southern end of the Central Plateau.
In March 1958, possibly a match for March of 2011, the perigee was the third closest for the year on 6th, the day corresponding with full moon. So were there big earthquakes during March 1958? In 1958 the closest perigee for the year was on 3 April, and on that day earthquake ID #1545749 at strength 4.6mag shook the lower North island at a depth of 12km, centered just south of Martinborough. In March 1958 there were three shakes around the perigee time, situated between Takaka and Motueka, being earthquakes #1545735, 1545736 and 1545737. They were at depth 12kms and between 3-4 mag, followed a week later by two 4-5mag shakes just north of the Chathams.
In such a smallish area as NZ it is hard to pinpoint exact equivalents, and taking one comparison date is scientifically wanting. I would have liked other sunspot/moon equivalent year-dates to compare, like 1914 and 1904, but earthquake information for these years does not seem available. If the above is an indication, it is again more likely than not that a significant shake may affect the South Island in March next year.
As to where, it is too hard to tell. I think it is like this. Imagine if you are one of those people for whom eating chocolate causes pimples on the face. You can predict that eating chocolate again will bring about an outbreak. But you couldn't predict on exactly which particular centimetre of skin a pimple may appear. From the viewpoint of even a considered shallow shake 12kms down, and looking up at the surface of the land above, NZ is very small. When we view it the other way, from 12kms in the air, which is the height a Boeing flies, NZ is so small we can only just make out land from sea. From that far away vertically, Te Anau to Christchurch appears to be a few cms away. The Alpine fault extends through the whole South island like an aorta. Anywhere along it and to the side is at risk. The events of the past month can illustrate why big centres like ancient cities in ancient times were abandoned and left to ruin. Large enough shakes would have caused mass emigrations, because fed by regular aftershocks over about a month and the quite understandable fear of the return of a Big One, there would not in many instances have been the will nor resources to rebuild the essential public buildings.
So perhaps another perspective is needed for some readers who are still being traumatised by aftershocks. We have not said an earthquake is certain on 20 March 2011, but there is potential for possible activity on an E/W fault line around the time and likely to be in the upper half of the South Island. This is not unusual for the South Island, especially the upper half; next March the moon will be closest to earth for a year, and both the lunar position and the sunspot cycle look similar. I do expect tremors but how deep and what magnitude could be anyone’s guess. Whatever earthquake occurs on a closest perigee is usually followed by some rumblings for a time afterwards. But I don’t think we should live our lives in fear - we have to accept sometime that earthquake damage has always been a reality living in NZ and Christchurch got its turn recently. No doubt somewhere else will cop it next time. Yet we can observe in hindsight that the Napier earthquake didn’t come back to buzz Napier, nor have the Murchison and the Edgecumbe shakes returned to the same place. In fact we can confidently say quite the opposite, like the measles once you have had it you probably won’t get it again in your lifetime. So on the basis of historical probability, next March Christchurch might well be one of the safest places.
Is the Wildfoods Festival threatened?
This popular event is held in Hokitika every March, meaning at least 20,000 extra people will descend on the small town on 12 March 2011. The Alpine Fault runs under the Alps in close proximity. A West Coast resident says the Alpine fault runs NE/SW and the amount of strain that has built up since it last ruptured in 1717 is estimated to be close to 8m (it slipped approx 8m in 1717). "Geologists and natural hazard experts have been trying to warn us that it is expected to rupture sooner than later. It makes intuitive sense that additional forces, like the proximity of the moon, set off earthquakes in many cases. Living close to the fault line, which runs along the western edge of the Alps, and being a parent makes me want to learn as much as possible about what to expect and to prepare as best we can. Is the scenario you're predicting for March 2011 something that could happen every year, or is it more of a rare occurrence for all of these risk factors to line up together? Also, are you able to predict the probability of tsunamis?"
Excellent information on Otago Regional Council's webpage about the risk of an Alpine Fault rupture: http://www.orc.govt.nz/Information-and-Services/Natural-Hazards/Great-Alpine-Fault-Earthquake/
GNS has a Youtube clip about NZ's tsunami risk. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZBbRo5x6EY&feature=channel
The 12 March is a week before the moon comes closest to Earth for the whole of 2011. There is always a month in every year that this happens. From a week away the moon is still also very close, but in assessing whether or not it will affect the Festival we are assuming an earthquake will occur, assuming it will be near the West Coast, assuming it is at a shallow depth and assuming the magnitude would be large. Remembering that the shake on 4 September 2010 was 4 days from a powerful perigee, so a week away from an even stronger perigee, especially the biggest of the year, would have to be a concern. So from a sunspot and moon viewpoint it would appear that the timing of the festival is a little close for comfort. As for tsunami, this brings another assumption; that the shake would be centred out to sea and at a shallow depth, which adds two assumptions to the four already in the frame.
From a commonsense perspective there is much that can be done leading up to the festival. Because this is a tourist event and puts the West Coast on the map and because 20,000 spenders help the economy of the town, the government might see fit to make more funding available for geologists and extra resources, given the new general awareness of South Island shakes. This could be invested in extra geological teams doing around-the-clock monitoring and perhaps delving into archival data like I have done, if that is considered appropriate.
Potential for earthquakes aside, for Hokitika on the weekend of 12-13 March some extreme weather is anticipated. Gale westerlies and much rain is expected which visitors might well be advised to prepare for, especially if children are also attending.
I do think there is a renewed awareness that earthquakes can be and have always been part of the history and landscape of the South Island, which is not a bad outcome. It is just that in the past the media have not dwelt too much on the bigger and more frequent shakes that have occurred away from population centres. Like Iceland, NZ has always been tectonically active, and earthquakes, tsunamis, eruptions and volcanoes should not really come as a surprise. After all, it is what tourists expect and it is a chief attraction. It is a wakeup that we need to develop a new outlook into planning of events that involve large numbers of people around suspicious dates, better structural codes for buildings, and faster and better compensation packages and community assistance for victims. Instead of waiting for an event to strike, Civil Defence could easily be expanded to Civil Assistance that operated at all times, involved in relocating, counselling, and affordable finance systems that would allow easy reconstruction of shattered lives.
Update 12 October
The region has quietened down. What shakes occur now seem to be about mag 2-3. In the previous posts we said the next cluster would be between 1st-7th. That has proven correct, because after the 7th the numbers of shakes have gone steadily down
7th: 20 shakes
8th: 14 shakes
9th: 5 shakes
10th: 9 shakes
11th: 4 shakes
12th: 4 shakes
So there’s nothing to report on now, until the next lot expected around the 13th.
Even after that, longer gaps between activity days are anticipated.
13th: 3pm onwards
Update 13 October
With the new moon in perigee a week ago, 5th-7th October, just like 4-8 September, it was always going to be likely that earthquakes would again strike around 1st-7th, the 1st being a nodal point and the rest comprising the date range that had the nodes in significant angles to the moon.
Equally the 13th was another time for a significant shake because the node again came into significance. What we got was two shakes above 4-mag on 13th for the first time since the 8th. This afternoon a 4.1mag and a 5.0mag occurred at Weedons. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. It does appear that we have had a run of good luck for nearly two months now - or there may be something else to the ideas expressed on this page. We also note in passing that sunspot numbers are again up, compared with a couple of days ago. But the moon is moving further away, moving slower, with less gravitational pull and sunspots are not as high in number as between 4-8 September. Therefore it seems unlikely that as large an earthquake (as 4 Sept) will occur in the same place.
Update 18 October
After the 13th, the next cluster of significant shakes was forecast for around the 17th.
Sunspots have been on the increase since the 13th, looking to peak again around 17th-18th. Apogee is looming tomorrow.
13th: 11 sunspots, 7 shakes, including a 5.02-mag
14th: 24 sunspots, 5 shakes
15th: 34 sunspots, 3 shakes, including a 4.56-mag
16th: 51 sunspots, 2 shakes
17th: 48 sunspots, 1 shake
18th: 61 sunspots, 19 shakes, including a 4.41 and a 4.05, and two 5+ in Tonga.
So why so many shakes on the 18th? The Full moon is close: it comes on Saturday, 3 days after Apogee. F+A is a potent time for shakes, for instance the Tangiwai disaster, and Asian and Samoan tsunamis. On my website blog of 18 October I have put forward an explanation of why apogee seems to encourage earthquakes. The apogee is 19 October. The last apogee was 21 September, and on 20 September, Tokoroa had a 5.6-mag shake. The next period is around Full moon on 21st. Full moons can bring shakes around the start and end of the day, when the moon is on the horizon, pulling laterally.
Both sun and moon contribute. For the past two years the sun has been dormant. Now it is springing to life as sunspot cycle #24 gets underway. The sun provides the energy. The moon provides the focus and the timing. We can monitor the moon from very far back, but sunspots /flares are a different matter. We can roughly guess the sunspot cycle length, but individual flares and daily numbers take us by surprise. All we can do is keep a watch, and when sunspot numbers start to increase, as they have done over the past few days, and a moon "event" like a phase change, declination peak or apogee/perigee is looming, then earthquake activity may be expected to jump into life around then.
I would still not consider that another massive earthquake is certain, in fact I think it’s more likely not to be the case in Christchurch. I can only repeat that other well-known earthquakes in NZ’s history have not, as a rule revisited the same site. It’s more like the whole country is on a tectonic fault-line and we are all subject to risk if we live on or near a SW-NE line from Te Anau to Bay of Plenty. But there have been exceptions, as I have been informed by a correspondent, like June 24, 1942, 3 days before the day of both Full moon and the second closest perigee for the year in Wairarapa, Masterton area. A 7.2-mag shake struck on June 24, and incredibly 5 weeks later on Aug. 2 the same area was hit by a 7.0. Another chilling event was exactly 4 months later when they were hit by a 6.0 aftershock. With the full moon+close perigee we should not be too surprised that it was a big one. But this seems to be rare. Earthquakes do not appear to make a habit of this, neither does lightning, neither do dormant volcanoes appear to be gearing up to erupt again. It looks like we have to wait for this family of shakes to run their course, and meanwhile observe trends.
For another disastrous event, Christchurch may or may not be in the firing line again; it could be Wellington or anywhere, and it may not even happen. But I see no harm in trying to bring an awareness of sun and moon to the table, and to try to get geologists on board. So far, no one from Geonet has said anything except that someone gave the opinion that sun and moon probably aren’t involved, but no reasons were given. Any opinions are valid, especially if they come from workers considered experts in the field. But my response is well then, what? As I have previously pondered, on a balmy spring evening, a city, by itself, doesn’t just suddenly decide to shake to bits. You can’t even shake a bottle of Coke or sprinkle a simple salt shaker without putting in a lot of power to your arm.
The numbers of shakes do seem to be getting less and the distances greater between clusters. People are at last adjusting. I think the human psyche may be easily spooked. When something extreme happens, if it is close enough to home and shocks you enough, for a while you are on permanent alert like a meerkat, wondering if it's going to be the pattern for the rest of your life. It is a natural response to shock. Canterburians were caught off-guard, as was the rest of the country. There have always been earthquakes, but the news media haven’t reported them before.
We saw the same phenomenon in Australia with the global warming argument. There was one particularly dry year and bad drought and the scientists and media got swept along in the hysteria, all of the experts preaching about drought now certain to be a reality for the next 1000 years. Two weeks later when it rained they all suddenly changed their minds and drought-talk mysteriously vanished. In the days of the Helen Clark government global warming filled every page of every newspaper. Now it is hard to find a single mention anywhere.
The earthquake put everyone in shock. And for a while every new shake, that previously might have either gone unreported or was small enough to laugh off, is still seen by some to be a possible sign of a new massive disaster. No shakes and shocks are trusted, and with very good reason. It is still not yet a time when people should be expected to be able to think clearly, but when the December perigee occurs (1 Dec) it is one of the weakest for the year, and tectonic activity should be right down to minimal..
Next dates of atmospheric disturbance: 19th-21st (apogee+crossing equator heading north), then 23rd.
19th: until 9am (moon sextile north node)
21st: 1am-8pm (moon square north node)
23rd: 1pm-6am on 24th (moon trine north node)
24th: 9pm- 5am on 25th (moon sesquisqaure north node)
Update 20 October
The 5.0 shake in the morning of the 19th was uncannily close to 9am, the time of the moon-node angle, or aspect. Further it was a shake very close to the eastern coast, in other words virtually an E/W fault activation. Seeing the 20th is the day of the moon crossing the equator (lunar equinox), which usually favours E/W faults, this is line with the theory of lunar influence. If the moon was at either southern declination (as it was on the 12th) or northern declination (as it will be on the 27th), we can expect N/S fault lines to be more at risk, which means shakes centred more towards the Alpine Fault running under the Alps.
We can see this tendency already: At the time of last southern declination (12 October) there were shakes from White Island, through Manawatu and south of Wanganui, down also to southwest of Christchurch, quite a N/S line. At the time of last lunar equinox, on 6 October, there were also shakes in Hawkes Bay, which is in the east. It means that today's shake may have been further west had the moon been further in the north or further in the south, instead of on the equator. It also means that on the next northern declination, on the 27th, if there are cluster-shakes (and there usually are on northern declinations) they may be less close to Christchurch.
The sunspot count for today was 69, which is the highest so far for both months, at least 15 higher than for the 7.1-mag event on 4 September. As the moon was this time further away, arguably the shake-magnitude was compromised. A 69-sunspot count coupled with a moon as close as it was on 4 September (second closest to earth for the year) could have been a worse catastrophe.
There is some talk of people wishing to pack up and leave Christchurch, because of the uncertainty of more shakes. It is easy to understand this decision, even though we now know quite a bit about the process of tectonic movements and my guess is that these aftershocks will end soon for Christchurch, probably around the end of November. But in ancient times populations would also have packed quickly and left, deserting their cities after perhaps 1000 or so serious aftershocks, presumably surmising that the end of the world was nigh, or that the gods were punishing them. They would have wearied of the constant strain of apprehension, and the grieving if there was ongoing loss of life after the first initial disaster. There are many cities that appeared to have suffered this mass-desertion fate. The ancient city of Megiddo, also known as Armageddon, provides one example. Another may have been the collapse of the Harappan civilization in South Asia. The Harappan civilization mysteriously disappeared in 1900 BC, after almost 2,000 years of continuous existence. An earthquake has been blamed.
For interesting reading, and to show that the same sentiment must have arisen often in the past, Google "ancient cities deserted after earthquakes".
Update of 27 October
With 22x shakes on the 26th, the highest since 26x on 5 October, we're back up in numbers. However, this is probably part of the pattern of general international seismic activity at the northern declination, a common earthquake time (27th). Today the sunspot count was a very high 74, and the solar wind value 508, up since on 22nd, just before the full moon. But the maginitude of the shakes locally is small, perhaps because the moon is N/S, and earthquakes are happening more to N/S faults, rather than the local E/W fault lines. (The Indonesian earthquake runs N/S, the Mentawai islands at the northern end of the Java Trench). After tomorrow, the 28th, once the northern declination has passed, the numbers of shakes should decrease again, but should return with some of higher magnitude in the first week of November. On the 2 November the moon crosses the equator heading south, again entering our southern hemisphere. Two days later (4th) it is the perigee, ninth closest for the year. Two days later (6th) is the new moon.
Over the next few days the moon is nodal at these times
28th: 4am-11pm (moon opposition north node)
1st: 2pm-midnight (moon trine north node)
3rd: 2pm-4am on 4th (moon square north node)
5th: 4pm - 6am on 6th (moon sextile north node)
6th: 7pm - 1am on 7th (moon semisquare north node)
7th: 8pm - 4am on 8th (moon semisextile north node)
9th: 9pm - 4pm on 10th (moon conjunction north node)
Update of 13 November
Sunspots have been on the move a bit this month, and just two days ago reached 55 per day, roughly equivalent to the number on 4 September. However we can note that the moon is much further away now, compared with 4 September, by about 30,000km.
This time next month the moon will be still the same distance away.
The shake activity now is not expected to increase in magnitude anytime soon. Times to take note of are days of atmospheric disturbance due to the moon.
Days of Atmospheric Disturbance
2010 November 4th Thur P9
2010 November 6th Sat N
2010 November 9th Tues V
2010 November 14th Sun 1st
2010 November 15th Mon A
2010 November 16th Tues XhN
2010 November 22nd Mon F
2010 November 23rd Tues ^
2010 November 29th Mon 3rd
2010 November 30th Tues XhS
2010 December 1st Wed P13
2010 December 6th Mon N, V
2010 December 13th Mon A, XhN
2010 December 14th Tues 1st
2010 December 21st Tues F, ^
2010 December 26th Sun P12
2010 December 27th Mon XhS
2010 December 29th Wed 3rd
Abbreviations: N=new moon, F=full moon, 1stQ=first quarter, lastQ=last quarter, P=perigee,(P9=ninth closest for the year), A=apogee, XhS=moon crossing equator heading south, also called lunar equinox, XhN=moon crossing equator heading north, ^=northern declination, also known as north stitial colure, V=southern declination, also known as south stitial colure.
Over the past week we have had shake activity, but it has been small, although they have clustered in number around moon peaks and around dates according to the above list. For example: (e.g. 16x = 16 recorded tremors in the Christchurch region)
On the 2nd, 16x, none bigger than 3.8 (moon crossing equator into S hemisphere)
On the 3rd, 16x, none bigger than 3
On the 4th, 25x, none bigger than 4.2 (moon closest to earth for month, perigee #9)
On the 5th, 17x, none bigger than 3.7
On the 6th, 19x, none bigger than 3 (new moon)
On the 7th, 27x, none bigger than 4.6
On the 8th, 21x, none bigger than 4.1
On the 9th, 19x, none bigger than 3.4 (moon at southern declination)
On the 10th, 8x, none bigger than 3.2
On the 11th, 12x, none bigger than 3.7
On the 12th, 8x, none bigger than 3.7
Note for instance that the 4th (day of perigee) brought an increase in number of shakes, as did the 6th/7th (new moon), and 8th/9th(S dec), and that from the atmospheric disturbance table these factors should lessen until more of a cluster on 15th/16th, then 22nd/23rd, then 29th-1st. As radiation increases due to sunspot cycle #24 it is reasonable to extrapolate that we may see no decrease yet in numbers of shakes but they may not all affect Christchurch, and they should be of decreasing magnitudes.
The above is what you get when you multiply numbers of sunspots per day x solar wind speed. The trend is that the activity has a regularity and the radiation index is rising, and that is what is expected as solar cycle #24 takes its foothold. It does not mean we are building to another big earthquake, only that the sun's new radiation cycle is settling into its regular pattern. Whether or not the extra bursts of radiation reach here in a way that may be of earthquake potential is up to the position of the moon, which is something fortunately that we can predict.
With that considered it is reasonable to relax and asume that another devastating shake is unlikely to repeat anytime soon, despite a seismology-department knee-jerk reaction that a 6+ mag. earthquake aftershock could be arriving in the district at any time. In predicting this, the spokespeople are only reacting to what has already occurred, and take no account of history of the area, which sees regular shake activity, nor solar activity, nor the increasing distance of the moon from Earth in coming months. A moon that is going further away is a lessening influence gravitationally, and by not distorting the Van Allen belt the moon is allowing the radiation shield to better do its job, which is providing for a greater shielding effect against the solar wind.
That shakes continue from time to time is normal, especially to any area after a big one. It may take some months for the plates to stop sliding after a large dislodgement. It is like continuing to play rugby after suffering a broken leg that has not been allowed to entirely heal. Every time the moon transits there will be some triggering. We should remember that the earth-moon-sun system is always in a state of flux. The sun affects the moon and the sun affects the earth, as it does all the planets in the cosmos. Each planet affects the others, much as all members of a family have some affect on each other. When it comes to the moon's affect on the earth, this effect is also on everything on the earth, which includes air, land and sea. All have tides and this means constant motion.
The whole is interactive, like the cogs of a clock. Just as no cog in a clock spins at some random self-decided rate, so it is with land movements, tides, weather patterns and earthquakes. It should be our endeavour to assume cycles, then set off to find them, not assume randomness, which sets everyone in a permanent state of expectant dread. That is not science; it is as irresponsible as global warming scaremongering.
That search for cycles is what we have tried to do here. There is of course much we still do not know, and to explore the unknown is the constant challenge of science. It is only by measurement and extrapolation that we can make headway. It is only by identifying possible cycles and observing these that we can make valid predictions. The old astrology was such a science, but it was thrown on the scrap heap by western society when science was hijacked by religion and politics. That is why when we have tried to predict we have based it on transparent science and observation, and we have backed up every prediction with reasons for making that prediction.
Of our methods it seems there are many folk who have found some use, but also many sceptics. That should worry no one. Scepticism has never founded empires, nor changed the world. Scepticism should only be a luxury for those who have first trodden a path of belief and experiment. Otherwise it is unfounded. You cannot fairly appraise a product unless you have first given it sincere backing and thorough trial. A childless couple may have a good idea of what parenthood is like, but won't know for sure until they actually trial it. And a western doctor cannot pass fair judgement on the efficacy of Chinese medicine, which has predated his own training by several thousand years.
So when it comes to the influence of sun, moon and planets on Earth and everything on the earth, this has already been worked out in the old astrology, something honed by inhabitants of the Indus Valley and Asia over perhaps 2 million years of the development of humans living together in an organised way (e.g. Google 'Lord Ramas bridge' or 'two million year old civilisations') It is a weird vanity that allows western science to declare astro-meteorology "snake-oil" or "pseudoscience", just because it is not taught in western schools and universities. It is also insulting to entire ancient and present "other" cultures, who took and still take the old established astrology seriously and from which today's mathematics has essentially derived, through Africa, Iraq, India and Persia. It is tantamount to saying that ALL the ancient civilisations with their wise men and astrological scientists such as Archimedes, Galileo and Sir Isaac Newton, were either ignorant and/or stupid.
Nothing is achieved by the so-called earthquake experts warning of ever-impending doom, which may be an ongoing exercise in damage control to cover-up performance embarrassment. To proclaim afterwards that more and bigger shakes were to come was distraction from the fact that at the time of the 7.1-mag event the newly-installed supecomputers were caught napping. They all do their best, and if their equipment is inadequate then perhaps they should admit to that, rather than make more claims about future events to come when their present computer hardware and software did not even predict what did happen and what is continuing to transpire daily.
As to a choice between science and astrological science, both have a place in the modern world. But ask yourself this. You suddenly find you are on an Australian Survival Island-type mission, and you have to find your way across a hostile terrain; a desert, with snakes and poisonous insects, and a dense jungle. There is an allowance for a travelling companion, so your question is who you would choose to accompany you. You are granted two choices: either an elderly Aboriginal tracker in barefeet who has all his life used the moon and stars to navigate, who cannot read and write but is considered the wise man of his tribe, who does not know what a university is, nor for that matter what tramping boots are, and plans to go straight across...or an energetic university graduate with the latest sat-nav and other electronic survival gear including iPhone and laptop, and who is confident from his phD research thesis using Google Maps that he knows a better but different way. He has not made the trip before but he does not believe that should hinder him. Would it alter your choice if you were told the tracker's tribe have done the trip every winter for the past 40,000 years?
Update of 22 November
With the full moon today and northern declination, there has been some recent activity, but it is dying again, as it does, with clusters coming and going as regularly as the tides, which in fact they are, being tides in the land. The earth is actually a liquid planet, and that means the molten core inside the earth, which is daily acted on by the gravitation of the moon. The sea and land are just little bits floating on top of this molten mass.
The tides are tied to and are part of the larger system of cycles, being a function of the regular output of energy from the sun. We have been watching this using the above graph over recent months and Cantabrians have been trying to plan their lives around the ebbing and flowing of the aftershocks, which up till the 7.1 earthquake was not a primary area of focus.
Activity has almost dropped back to normal levels. Since 13 November, our last update, 14th (apogee)=26x shocks, 15th=6x, 16th=5x, 17th=7, 18th=2x, 19th=4x, 20th(pre-full moon)=11x, 21st=6x, 22nd=4x. The Earth-facing side of the sun has now gone quiet so solar activity is low.
There is no reason to suppose any aftershocks of significance will occur until flares climb again, as the sun rotates around and its solar activity once again beams earthwards. There will always be tectonic movements as part of the earth's daily jostling due to the inconstant moon activating the land tides, and these should be considered part of normality, as we regard the ocean tide. We are not panic-stricken when the seatide comes in every day, but we become alarmed when the ocean tide becomes a tidal wave, because it is extra-ordinary, but not that it is a tidal feature. In the same way we may come to accept that the land has these tides and it is only the larger aftershocks that should be worthy of comment and attention.
The truth is that the land tides are the main ones that the moon activates. This is not known by many. The whole planet is influenced by the gravitational effect of the moon and because the planet is a liquid with the continents floating like icebergs on the surface it is the molten liquid that moves first, then the land masses, then the sea. The moon distorts this liquid sphere of our planet only a small amount, and the resultant earth tides are measurable even in the middle of the largest continent. When the moon is over Moscow, the land rises about 30cm per day as the moon passes over. The land tide varies between 0-50cm. In this part of the world it is about 20cm. When there are kingtides in the sea there are also kingtides in the land and air. The reason there are more earthquakes in Japan than elsewhere is because it is so close to a large land mass, and the land-tide moves more in response to the moon. The land is the bigger tide, and the water of the ocean just drains off and around the land.
NZ gets a lot, about 3000 earthquakes a day according to one source (but I can not verify this yet) and about 41,000 annually according to other sources. The large number is because NZ is on the edge of two tectonic plates. There are few places that escape at least some tectonic activity. Even Germany and Switzerland, previously thought to be unknown to earthquakes, have recently, to the surprise of scientists, been found to experience the odd extensive shock. Most people in Britain think they escape earthquakes; in fact they are quite common, sometimes up to 3 a week. (Most quakes there are centred in the West Midlands as there is a large fault running down the side of Birmingham and 2 active faults along the border with Wales.).
When Apollo went to the moon, they left seismic equipment there. They noticed that every time Earth came closer, the moon shook with moonquakes. The reverse happens too, that the Earth shakes at those very same times, because of the Earth-moon distance and moon positioning. It is a new reality, but earthquakes are a fact of life for everyone on the planet. We are all slowly realising that they are not something unusual. It does not help those still staring at wrecked houses and lawns and livelihoods, and it will take a long time to get over that fright in the middle of that early September night. But it may give a better perspective.
Thanks, readers, for your continuing interest in this subject. As this page is now getting rather long, we have decided to continue updates in fresh articles.
Please check these for more recent earthquake discussion: http://www.predictweather.co.nz/ArticleShow.aspx?ID=324&type=home
Happy new year from the PredictWeather team!