Skip

There are some folks that think a large earthquake could hit the U.S. West Coast in the next few days.
March 18, 2011 11:53 AM   Subscribe

Earth Tides, Syzygy, this weekend's Supermoon, and whale beachings are all things that some folks think point to a possible tectonic event on the U.S. West Coast this weekend. Jim Berkland, retired USGS Geologist thinks so. See his interview here. And, he's got a track record of predicting earthquakes.
posted by bricksNmortar (57 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hooray for woowoo science. Gah.
posted by daq at 11:54 AM on March 18, 2011


I, for one, could live without the fear-mongering.

/West Coaster
posted by Space Kitty at 11:56 AM on March 18, 2011 [11 favorites]


wait, is one of those a time cube link ?
posted by k5.user at 11:57 AM on March 18, 2011


All you need to know about Jim Berkland is that he was a regular guest on the Art Bell show. His method for predicting earthquakes relies upon things such as missing pet reports. Woowoo.
posted by daq at 11:59 AM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


That's the most Fox I've ever watched and it was too much. Typical fear mongering.
posted by Liquidwolf at 12:00 PM on March 18, 2011


There are some folks that think a large earthquake could hit the U.S. West Coast in the next few days.

There are always some folks who expect something.

This man is holding up 20 year-old clippings as evidence, and he admits he's not a genius.

I predict California will suffer another earthquake.

Someday I will hold up a greasy printout of this page from the internet to prove my prescience. I just hope that by then I can grow the beard out and sufficiently glassify my eyes.
posted by chavenet at 12:01 PM on March 18, 2011


Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

*smashes clock*

Okay, well...not that one.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:03 PM on March 18, 2011 [11 favorites]



There are always some folks who expect something.


Yes but NO ONE expects.......(do I even have to say it??)
posted by spicynuts at 12:03 PM on March 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


this is garbage.
posted by empath at 12:04 PM on March 18, 2011


Ah. Constipation was a bitch. Thanks for scaring me shitless!
posted by jefficator at 12:07 PM on March 18, 2011


If we had an earthquake out here every time that idiot predicted one, I'd be living in fucking Waterworld by now.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:14 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


BUT WHTA IF HES RIGHT
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:17 PM on March 18, 2011


Obligatory Phil Plait.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 12:17 PM on March 18, 2011




One is not a track record. With only one point on the line there is no track. There isn't even room to sit. It is more of a standing record.
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:18 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together going missing... mass hysteria!
posted by isopraxis at 12:18 PM on March 18, 2011


BUT WHTA IF HES RIGHT

BRING IT.

I mean really. If you believe that I'm tempting fate by saying BRING IT you might as well listen to this crackpot.
posted by chimaera at 12:19 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really enjoyed the links in this post up until the last link. "predicting earthquakes" leads to something on the '89 quake? eh? I was expecting something more on what is either an emerging or mad science. I don't see any reference to Jim on the page either. Left with the sense that you are seeking to remind us of something - almost like a jab.

bricksNmortar - imagine a post about weather science that ended with a big turd on the crappy weather in your home state of Michigan...(ha ha! got you!). I'm not all in tight underwear about this - it was a great post. But as Space Kitty and other comments from West coasters trickle in - we know... we know - especially lately... we know.
posted by astrobiophysican at 12:20 PM on March 18, 2011


Honestly? People live where is there are hurricanes and tornados and blizzards and those are way more common than earthquakes. And they mostly live. And then most earthquakes in first world nations are a lot more Northridge/Loma Prieta than the recent one in Japan. I think we'll be okay. As long as the radiation doesn't kill us.
posted by dame at 12:24 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jim Berkland sounds like a textbook case study of the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy.
posted by dry white toast at 12:31 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jim Berkland is not unique in looking at animal behavior as a means of earthquake prediction.
posted by stbalbach at 12:32 PM on March 18, 2011


I am an infallible earthquake predictor. Every year, I make my annual earthquake predictions, in writing, they are placed in envelopes, and hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar kept under Funk & Wagnall's porch.
Upon the announcement of a major earthquake, I will retrieve one of the 365 envelopes, the one marked for that day, open it, and the message will read "There will be a major earthquake today."
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:32 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that last link was kind of a turd... sorry to all, especially you astrobiophyscian.

IMO - the earth is a much more complex machine/organism than any human would ever be understand completely. Sure, Mr. Berkland straddles the fence to crackpot-ville, but he makes some interesting points and timely observations. What about all those swarms of fish near Acupulco after last week's quake? Fishermen saying they've never seen anything like it before either means it's happened and they didn't see it, or it's unprecedented.

I certainly did not intend to sow panic. It's just that these kinds of things make me curiouser about the workings of our little planet.

BTW, the weather in MI today is absolutely glorious.
posted by bricksNmortar at 12:34 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


To be honest, I like this kind of talk...in a way.

Information is only information when it is formed and distributed. A hurricane off the coast of southwest Africa is nothing if we don't hear about it.

So this dude "predicting" stuff based on "Syzygy" (great x-files episode, btw) is just fine. Reporters will descend on the events he "predicted" with religious fervor. And then after about 100 writers cover the story about psychic geologists, one reporter will talk about how its not supernatural. That reporter's story will make sense so most legit news sources will start publicizing that view. But only after a few hours/days after an anti-science media middle ages.

So yeah..this is great. Keep the crackpots coming. Let the news celebrate them...and then after a little while, let the writers with a high school background in science talk.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:35 PM on March 18, 2011


Thanks are due to Jim Berkland who predicted a 8.9 earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japn in March 2011. One of the five largest quakes in recorded hist....

Oh wait, you mean he didn't predict that?

EPIC FAIL
posted by storybored at 12:39 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


It has been believed that nothing a would-be prophet predicts happens. Studies have disproved this truism. In contrary to popular opinion, layman predictions are merely negatively correlated with the future events that they prophesize. Following this, I have devised a novel predictive methodology. By maintaining an index of crackpot predictions made per day, one can divine the volatility of the future. During periods of increased density of internet predictions immediate disaster is probabilistically less likely. Conversely, decreased activity of would-be seers is a cause for concern. I have entitled this method the Wide Anti-Predictive Event Volatility Indicator (WAPEVI). With continued funding to the TwelveTwo Institute this approach can be expanded, and the precision of the method improved. It will be a lot of hard work. Thanks to you, we'll be able to do it. Because of your support it will soon be possible to predict both the day and time, down to the minute, of every future disaster that will not occur. In time, and thanks to your donations, humanity will have a clear picture of what isn't in store for them.

Thank you,

Director of Major Gifts
TwelveTwo
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:40 PM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have donated a favorite.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:43 PM on March 18, 2011


stbalbach, yes, but many of those studies monitor wild animal and herd behavior in a much more scientific and observable manner. Relying on reports of missing animals in newspapers? Not so much, given the myriad of factors that can influence how that reporting is done. For one, it usually costs money to post a missing pet ad in the classifieds. This relies upon the pet owners having money to post those notices, and the papers to still be functional to have a classified section that is reliable, and not influenced by other things that newspapers rely upon, namely paid for commercial ad space. Has he determined just what the statistical model for missing pet reports is? Or is he simply relying upon a data point that may or may not be just a fluctuation available economic motivations for pet owners to post a notice in any given newspaper?

This is woowoo science.
posted by daq at 12:45 PM on March 18, 2011


Woowoo or not, as a bay area resident I see that three other spots on the same plate have had major earthquakes recently and take notice. I'm not walking outside with a sandwich board on screaming doomsday...but I think if anyone lives in the area it is wise to have an earthquake kit in the house. Is that really such a bad idea? I mean wether it comes next week or not there WILL be another earthquake here eventually. It's tempting to pretend it won't happen but it's got to at some point.
posted by Jibuzaemon at 12:48 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here are the 4 earthquakes which you can predict for your friends and acquaintances:

1. There will be a magnitude 5 or 6 earthquake in Los Angeles. (The when is just sometime in the future and you probably mean the Los Angeles region, but when that earthquake happens those details won't matter).
2. There will be an earthquake in Japan next month. (The size is left unstated but if pressed say a big one. If pressed further say at least a magnitude 4 and consider getting some less picky friends).
3. There will be an earthquake of at least magnitude 6 in the next 2 weeks. (The where is left unstated but somewhere on earth is the answer. What do they want, you're new at this).
4. There will be an earthquake in southern California in the next 48 hours. (It could be any size, it is just going to happen).
posted by empath at 12:51 PM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Jibuzaemon is right, but not just for West Coasters. Everyone should have an emergency kit appropriate for your region's catastrophes. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, plagues of locusts...whatever you've got, you should be prepared.
posted by dejah420 at 12:54 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here in New Zealand we have our own Ken Ring, predicting pretty much the same thing.
posted by vac2003 at 1:02 PM on March 18, 2011


There are some folks that think a large earthquake could hit the U.S. West Coast in the next few days.

Could? Well, yes. I think it would be bigger news if some folks decreed that it was flatly impossible that a large earthquake could hit the U.S. West Coast in the next few days.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:02 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is a moon in the sky, its call the moon iirc. This is the space age, just don't worry.
posted by humanfont at 1:05 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apology accepted bricksNmortor. Very civil of you too (which makes me feel uncivil! - dag! another point for Michigan;). Again though, I really enjoyed the post. I always imagine the more I mull sudden hazardous situations the less likely I'll make the wrong decision when they do suddenly occur. Living near the ocean, I've been riveted by the tsunami videos from Japan - like a map with clues that might one day help my own survival.
posted by astrobiophysican at 1:07 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


At the perigee of January 4, 1912 the moon was closer to the earth than at this perigee. And the earth-moon system was closer to the sun than it is this month. After an admittedly cursory search I couldn't find reports of unusual geological activity from that month.
posted by gubo at 1:36 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's been pretty frustrating seeing friends (even generally skeptical ones) pass this horse shit around. Fear will do weird things to you.
posted by brundlefly at 1:41 PM on March 18, 2011


HOW CAN YOU NOT BELIEVE?!? DOOM IS UPON US ALL! MAKE PEACE WITH YOUR FAULTS AND PREPARE FOR YOUR DEATH!!!
posted by hippybear at 1:44 PM on March 18, 2011


The thing most people don't realize is that earthquakes happen all the damn time. Mostly they happen in unpopulated areas, and/or are too minor to be of note.

Predicting earthquakes is a trivial matter. You can just say, "There will be an earthquake soon," and you will be right every time.
posted by ErikaB at 1:45 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


At the perigee of January 4, 1912 the moon was closer to the earth than at this perigee. And the earth-moon system was closer to the sun than it is this month. After an admittedly cursory search I couldn't find reports of unusual geological activity from that month.

- January 4, 1912 – The Scout Association is incorporated throughout the British Commonwealth by Royal Charter.-

*BUM BUM BAH*
posted by The Whelk at 2:30 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Naysayers need only see this.
posted by Kale Slayer at 2:39 PM on March 18, 2011


Naysayers need only see this.

See what? Nothing unusual there.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:05 PM on March 18, 2011


Naysayers need only see this

Yes, Californians live on like a million active fault lines. It's part of the Pacific Ring of Fire - doesn't that name just scream "volcanic and siezmic activity is par for the course"? There will be a large Earthquake or two in California this year, just as there was a large earthquake or two in California last year.
posted by muddgirl at 3:34 PM on March 18, 2011


Actually, I find the California earthquake count rather low right now. I'm used to the number starting with a four, not a three.
posted by TwelveTwo at 3:47 PM on March 18, 2011


Having lived in California my whole life I don't even notice an earthquake under a 5.0. Sometimes I honestly feel like I'm missing out when people ask me if I felt an earthquake and I have to respond to them with "No".

What really worries me is this water spout off the coast of San Francisco. An earthquake, sure, that's expected and there are plans for what to do. A tornado? I would have no clue what to do if I saw a tornado come towards my house.
posted by JackarypQQ at 4:16 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm way more bummed that it's supposed to rain all weekend long. The weather's been so lovely lately!

I will still double-check my earthquake safety kit, just in case.
posted by estherbester at 4:17 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is another one of those "the more you know, the more you realize you don't know" type of topics.
posted by Kale Slayer at 4:26 PM on March 18, 2011


What really worries me is this water spout off the coast of San Francisco.

I had the same impression when I was in the Bay Area - that tornados weren't something to worry about in California. Apparently, they are uncommon but not rare.
posted by muddgirl at 4:30 PM on March 18, 2011


Torandos, I belive, can technically appear anywhere, but are vanishingly rare in some places and very common in others.
posted by The Whelk at 4:34 PM on March 18, 2011


Water spouts and tornadoes may have a superficial resemblance but they are not necessarily the same thing. Fair weather waterspouts only occur over water and do so when cold air flows over relatively warm water. They tend to be short-lived, weak, and not very destructive. Tornadic waterspouts, which are rare, typically form over land as a tornado then move over water.
posted by plastic_animals at 5:16 PM on March 18, 2011


Absolutely everyone should have a bug-out bag from which they are capable of living for a minimum of three days. Panties, prescriptions, and a non-electric phone should be in there as well as water and some freeze-dried comestibles.

Be safe y'all!
posted by Alles at 5:48 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


You never know. What are all the red lines scratched into the USGS map of the Seattle area? Never saw those before.
posted by Twang at 9:16 PM on March 18, 2011


Those red lines are different faults. It's not working for me on the Seattle map you linked to, but if you hover your mouse over them on the L.A. map they show the individual names. (You might need to zoom in a little.)
posted by Room 641-A at 10:27 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


In addition to predicting earthquakes, Ken Ring has also written a book on how to read your cat's paw. Be sure to make use of the Look Inside! feature.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 12:32 AM on March 19, 2011


Yeah, Australia's Sunrise morning tv show seemed to think Ring was an expert in climate change too, asking him to comment after the Queensland floods. Ken Ring is pretty quick to cash in on other people's tragedies.
posted by harriet vane at 8:26 PM on March 19, 2011


Speaking back from the future of no earthquakes-due-to-supermoon, this is ... um ... well. There you have it.
posted by nonspecialist at 6:11 AM on March 20, 2011


>The thing most people don't realize is that earthquakes happen all the damn time. Mostly they happen in unpopulated areas, and/or are too minor to be of note.

When I started working at the USGS Seismology Lab, at the Colorado School of Mines, I used to watch the seismographs all the time. I am not a seismologist, so I asked, one, why is the graph so noisy? He said the earth's surface was always resonating, from the heavy truck going down the street (which, due to proximity, can emulate a 4.0 quake) up to the big quakes on the other side of the world. But I asked him, there are constant quakes going on all the time, they're all just below the 2.0 range, they don't look like noise. He said, "oh, that's blasting in mines up in the mountains." I figured those were probably some huge explosions in some huge mines, but he said no, the seismographs are sensitive enough to detect moderate blasting.

Anyway, the point is correct, there are quakes all the time. I always hear people panicking and saying "there was a quake in California!" I show them the USGS Historical Seismicity map and the Recent Earthquakes map, and tell them, there is always a quake happening in California. It's like this all around the Ring of Fire. Japan historical seismicity is much higher than almost any other spot in the Ring, but unfortunately the historical background seismicity is a bit buried underneath big data from the recent intense quakes so you can't really see it on the map. But I assure you, even in relatively calm periods, the Japan historical seismicity map is just like that, you can't even see the island through all the dots.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:00 PM on March 20, 2011


« Older Everything is cheaper than it looks   |   "If you feel stupid, it's not... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post