HOW EARTHQUAKES ARE BEING TRIGGERED
THIS REPORT WILL PROPOSE THAT MANY POWERFUL EARTHQUAKES ARE BEING TRIGGERED BY STRAIN ENERGY WHICH IS GENERATED WHEN FORCES RELATED TO THE GRAVITATIONAL PULLS OF THE SUN AND THE MOON ON THE EARTH'S CRUST AND OCEANS, AND FORCES RELATED TO THE ROTATION OF THE EARTH ON ITS NORTH AND SOUTH POLE AXIS, WORK IN OPPOSITION TO ONE ANOTHER.
Report written by E.D.G.
Latest Update: June 26, 2000
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Return to E.D.G. homepage
This is a modified and expanded version of a report which was sent to international disaster response group personnel on November 23, 1999. Much of this information has been excerpted from my copyrighted research report (1999) titled Earthquake and Tornado Precursors, Formation, and Triggering Processes which was first circulated via posting to Internet Newsgroups and by e-mail on August 25, 1999. The contents of this report are protected by applicable U.S. and foreign copyright laws. People who would like to reference the information in this report in a formal publication should contact me for reference details.
Much of what is being discussed here is theory information which is presently being evaluated for accuracy. It should not be regarded as established fact. The information in this report represents expressions of personal opinion.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Earthquake Triggering Theories
How The Catastrophic January 17, 1995 Earthquake In Kobe, Japan Might Have Been Triggered
With The Positions Of The Sun And
The Moon In The Sky Relative To Earthquake Fault Zones
With The Positions Of The Sun And
The Moon In The Sky Relative To One Another
Recommendations Reference Information
EARTHQUAKE TRIGGERING THEORIES
(1) The constant movement of the Earth's tectonic plates relative to one another, and other phenomena such as volcanic processes gradually add strain to earthquake fault zones around the world. When that strain level reaches a certain point the fault zone rock layers fracture, resulting in a sudden release of much of their stored energy in the form of an earthquake.
(2) It is possible that with some percentage of earthquakes there is no distinct triggering mechanism which can be easily identified. However, it is my personal belief that with many powerful earthquakes, when a fault zone has accumulated enough strain energy that it is about to fracture on it own, different processes or phenomena can rapidly add enough additional strain to it to trigger an earthquake.
Those processes or phenomena would include shock waves from other powerful earthquakes occurring around the world, perhaps ocean tides and the solid earth tide, and the sun and moon gravity and Earth rotation related earthquake triggering mechanism being outlined in this theory section. I presently suspect that this mechanism might be responsible for the triggering of a good percentage of our powerful earthquakes.
(3) Once a year the sun and the Earth rotate about a shared center of mass which is close to the center of the sun. And once a month the moon and the Earth rotate about a shared center of mass which is somewhere beneath the surface of the Earth.
(4) Those rotations combined with the gravitational pulls of the sun and the moon on the Earth's crust and oceans cause crustal matter and ocean water to shift both towards and away from the positions of the sun and the moon in the sky. As a result there are crustal and ocean water tidal bulges on the sides of the Earth facing the sun and moon, and on the opposite sides of the Earth from them (high ocean tides and solid earth tides).
(5) Also as a result of those crust and ocean water shifts, at locations 90 degrees away from the positions of the sun and the moon in the sky the Earth's crust and oceans are flattened or depressed to a certain extent (low ocean tides and solid earth tides).
(6) When the sun is 90 degrees to the east or west of the moon in the sky its gravitational pull on the Earth's crust and oceans works against the moon's gravitational pull related tide crests and troughs.
(7) Centrifugal forces associated with the rotation of the Earth on its North and South Pole axis and other phenomena such as friction attempt to reduce the amplitude of those tidal crests and troughs. And those opposing forces can result in sufficient strain energy being generated to trigger earthquakes in fault zones in certain locations when the fault zones have already accumulated enough strain that they are getting close to fracturing on their own.
(8) In a simplified picture, those fault zones where that earthquake triggering strain energy winds up being focused would be near the longitude of the position on the Earth's surface where the combined gravitational pulls of the sun and the moon are strongest, and 90, 180, and 270 degrees to the west of that longitude. However, as data in this report might indicate, those four longitudes may often be offset a certain amount to the east or west of an actual fault zone longitude by fault zone environmental factors and by ocean and solid earth tide related forces etc.
(9) Because the gravitational pulls which the planets and other objects in space exert on the Earth have relatively low values in comparison with those of the sun and the moon, the planets etc. are probably not contributing significantly to earthquake triggering processes.
HOW THE THE CATASTROPHIC JANUARY 17, 1995 EARTHQUAKE IN KOBE, JAPAN MIGHT HAVE BEEN TRIGGERED
The data presented in this section may be demonstrating how strain related to those gravitational and centrifugal forces might have helped trigger the Kobe earthquake which reportedly claimed more than 5000 lives and cost the people of Japan more than 100 BILLION dollars in damage and economic loss.
*** The earthquake occurred at 135E longitude and 35N latitude.
If my data are correct, then at the time that it occurred:
*** The moon was directly above 50E longitude and 15N latitude.
*** The sun was directly above 129W longitude and 21S latitude.
And so at that time, the moon was at a longitude about 90 degrees to the west of the fault zone and the sun was at a longitude about 90 degrees to the east of the fault zone.
The following GIF file (about 200KB) shows that the Kobe fault zone travels from the southwest to the northeast at about a 45 degree angle relative to the equator.
The gravitational force lines between the moon and the sun would have been pointed downward from the moon at about a 15 degree angle relative to the equator. And so those gravity force lines could be viewed as being moderately close to perpendicular to the direction of the Kobe fault zone.
IT COULD BE PROPOSED THAT THE KOBE FAULT ZONE WAS CAUGHT ALMOST DIRECTLY BETWEEN THE OPPOSING GRAVITATIONAL FORCES OF THE SUN AND THE MOON AND WAS LITERALLY TORN APART BY THEM!
It could also be significant that the moon was to the west of the fault zone rather than to the east. Its gravitational pull on the Earth's crust is stronger than that of the sun. And the rotation of the Earth on its North and South Pole axis would have caused the Kobe fault zone rock layers to accelerate away from the moon and in opposition to its gravitational pull. I believe that that would also cause the fault zone rock layers to be pulled apart, reaching a point of maximum strain when they were about 90 degrees to the east of the moon's longitude as was the case when the earthquake occurred.
DATA ASSOCIATED WITH THE POSITIONS OF THE SUN AND THE MOON IN THE SKY RELATIVE TO EARTHQUAKE FAULT ZONES
Data in this section demonstrate, I feel, that earthquake triggering can take place in certain fault zones when the longitude of the position on the Earth's surface where the combined gravitational pulls of the sun and moon is strongest has a certain value, and at longitudes which are 90, 180, and 270 degrees to the west of position.
THE COMBINED SUN AND MOON GRAVITATIONAL PULLS LOCATION
With the data presented here, lines were drawn between the centers of the sun and the Earth, and the centers of the moon and the Earth. The latitudes and longitudes of the locations where those lines then crossed the surface of the Earth at the time when the earthquakes listed here occurred were determined. They were the positions of maximum gravitational pull of the sun and the moon on the Earth's surface at those times. Those two gravitational pulls were then combined using a geometric calculation which stated that moon gravitational pull values were 2.5 times as strong as those of the sun. I believe that that then produced (approximately) the latitude and longitude of the location on the Earth's surface where the combined gravitational pulls of the sun and the moon were strongest at the times of the earthquakes. That rough 2.5 factor was obtained from an excellent U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report on ocean tides which can be found at the following Web site:
Restless Tides, Explanation of Astronomical Factors, Tides and Tidal Currents
THE OCEAN TIDE REFERENCE
The Combined Sun And Moon Gravitational Pulls Location shows how earthquake occurrence times match up with the positions of the sun and the moon in the sky at those times. The Ocean Tide Reference (Tide) attempts to show how earthquake occurrence times can match up with ocean tides at those same times.
The times of high and low tides from both just before and after the time of an earthquake were obtained from a tide data table for the Singapore area (about 104E) which was generated by the ocean tide data program which can be found at the following Web site:
WWW Tide/Current Predictor
And the average of those four times was calculated. That time then corresponds (roughly) to halfway between the times of high or low tides in Singapore just before and after the time of the earthquake.
Calculations were then done to determine where the nearest ocean tide crest or trough would have been in relation to the earthquake fault zone at the time when the earthquake occurred if the fault zone were out in an ocean instead of inland. The longitude of that location is then referred to as The Ocean Tide Reference (Tide). At this time I am not certain how accurate the extrapolated numbers for those locations are in an absolute sense. But in this report they are intended to be compared with one another. And they are sufficiently accurate for that.
The following types of data have been listed here for six earthquakes. The first four were TREMENDOUSLY destructive!
Data lines containing:
*** The earthquake date, time, latitude, longitude, depth, and magnitude. Those data were obtained from U.S. National Earthquake Information Service tables.
Data lines containing:
*** The longitude of The Combined Sun And Moon Gravitational Pulls Location (ex. *132W) along with longitudes 90, 180, and 270 degrees to the west of that location.
*** The Ocean Tide Reference (Tide) measured in longitude degrees.
*** The sun - Earth - moon angle (Theta) at the time of the earthquake measured in angle degrees.
*** The earthquake date and its longitude.
Data lines containing information related to earthquake longitude differences etc.
*132W 42W 48E 138E Tide
= 27E Theta = +67 Aug. 17 30E
130W *40W 50E 140E Tide = 26E Theta = +49 Nov. 12 31E
1E Earthquake longitudes
2E Combined gravitational pulls longitudes difference
1W Ocean Tide References difference
142W 52W *38E 128E
Tide = 109E Theta = +98 Feb. 4 70E
141W 51W 39E *129E Tide = 107E Theta = +58 May 30 70E
0E Earthquake longitudes
1E Combined gravitational pulls longitudes difference
2W Ocean Tide References difference
*178W 88W 2E 92E
Tide = 162E Theta = -11 Dec. 6 155W
162W 72W *18E 108E Tide = 177E Theta = -4 Jan. 6 137W
18E Earthquake longitudes difference
16E Combined gravitational pulls longitudes difference
15E Ocean Tide References difference
(1) Data which have been presented here and others which I have evaluated do, I feel, show that the earthquakes can be triggered when the combined gravitational pulls longitude has any of four values which are 90, 180, or 270 degrees to the west of one another.
(2) Those first four earthquakes show that with earthquakes which occur at different times in a given fault zone area, their four combined gravitational pulls longitudes can at times have roughly the same values. The last two earthquakes suggest that the differences between the earthquake longitude and the combined gravitational pulls longitudes may at times be the same for earthquakes in the same general area even when they occur at somewhat different longitudes.
(3) Other data which I have evaluated suggest to me that other factors such as the sun - Earth - moon angle (Theta), and which of those four combined gravitational pulls longitudes is involved with a given earthquake, can shift those combined gravitational pulls longitudes values to the east or to the west by a certain amount.
DATA ASSOCIATED WITH THE POSITIONS OF THE SUN AND THE MOON IN THE SKY RELATIVE TO ONE ANOTHER
Data in this section demonstrate, I feel, that earthquake triggering can take place when the sun, moon, and Earth are in certain positions in the sky relative to one another.
Click here for a larger, clearer version of that file
The drawing in the upper right hand corner of the above file shows how lines drawn between the center of the sun and the center of the Earth, and the center of the moon and the center of the Earth form the "Theta" angle. Looking at the Earth from out in space with its North Pole at the top, Theta angle values are positive for cases where the sun longitude is to the west of the moon longitude (0 to 180 degrees). And they are negative for cases where the sun longitude is to the east of the moon longitude (again, 0 to 180 degrees).
Sun and moon latitude values have been included in the Theta angle values in the chart. In theory that means that there could be data point gaps near 0 and 180 Theta angle values. However, that effect was not noticeable in this study. A plot in which Theta includes only the longitude values of the sun and the moon and not their latitude values looks almost identical to the one presented here.
Each plus sign + on the chart represents the Theta angle value at the time when an earthquake occurred (vertical axis) versus the earthquake's longitude (horizontal axis). Most of the earthquakes used in that chart are listed in files stored at the following U.S. Geological Survey Internet World Wide Web site:
Earthquakes of the World
Several of the most destructive earthquakes occurring in countries around the world listed in those files during the years 1995 to early 1999 were used along with ALL of the earthquakes listed there as occurring in the People's Republic of China and Japan for those years. There are about 150 earthquakes total.
The blank vertical areas on the far right and left sides of that chart are the Pacific Ocean. The one in the chart's right - center is the Atlantic Ocean. No destructive earthquakes occurred in those areas because there are apparently no heavily populated islands there.
The -90 degree Theta angle range at the top of the chart has been repeated towards the bottom of the chart so that earthquake triggering patterns can be more easily observed.
Because the moon circles the Earth in the same direction as the Earth spins on its axis, the sun longitude value increases each day relative to that of the moon. As a result, Theta gets larger each day. So, if earthquakes were plotted on a daily basis starting with Theta values at the bottom of the chart, the + signs for the next day's earthquakes would be slightly higher in the chart.
OBSERVATIONS AND THEORIES
(1) Just to the left of the center of the chart (90E to 155E longitude) there are four circled groups of plus signs + which are centered around Theta angle values of -80, -25, 80, and 160 degrees. It is my opinion that those groups show that many earthquakes in the Japan - Taiwan - Indonesia area are being triggered when Theta, the sun - Earth - moon angle, has specific values.
(2) It is my present theory that those earthquakes may be grouping together because their fault zones are on the borders of large tectonic plates. And to a certain extent, for that reason they are being triggered in somewhat similar manners. Fault zones which are located towards the centers of tectonic plates can exist in dramatically different environments relative to one another and be triggered by more varied combinations of forces.
(3) The line drawn through the plus 80 Theta degree group suggests that that group may be extending inland (to the left and down), with gradually decreasing values for Theta. At this time no theories are being presented here to explain that observation.
(4) The plus 160 Theta degree group covers twice the Theta angle range and contains about twice as many earthquakes as any of the other three groups. It represents earthquakes which were triggered when the sun and the moon were on opposite sides of the Earth. There are some interesting contrasts between that group and the -25 Theta degree group which represents earthquakes which were triggered when the sun and the moon were on same side of the Earth.
(5) The 80 and -80 Theta degree groups might be showing how the gravitational pull of the sun acts in opposition to the moon gravitational pull's flattening effects on ocean water and sections of Earth's crust which are located 90 degrees away from the position of the moon in the sky.
(6) There are fairly large empty spaces between the -25 and 80 Theta degree groups, and the 160 and -80 degree groups. That indicates that for earthquakes in those areas there is an abrupt decrease in triggering activity once Theta values increase past those two gravitational points.
A PROPOSED EARTHQUAKE TRIGGERING PROCESS COMPUTER PROGRAM
A computer program should be developed which might enable us to determine exactly how earthquakes around the world are being triggered and in the process help us to determine when and where some destructive earthquakes are likely to occur.
One Way In Which It Might Do That:
One of my present theories regarding earthquake triggering proposes that when a powerful earthquake occurs, its shock waves can cause fault zones at specific locations around the world to become unstable, leading to earthquakes occurring in them weeks, months, years, and perhaps even decades earlier then they might otherwise.
Immediately after powerful earthquakes occurred, this proposed computer program might be used to determine where some of those susceptible fault zones were located. Governments in those areas could then begin watching closely for signs of an approaching earthquake and move city residents into tents etc. if and when that appeared prudent.
For One Example:
I suspect that the powerful August 17, 1999 earthquake in Turkey might have had that type of destabilizing effect on fault zones in the Taiwan area which are located 90 longitude degrees to the east (30E and 121E), helping trigger the destructive September 20, 1999 earthquake in Taiwan a month later. If that is in fact the case then this proposed program might have sounded the alarm and let Taiwan government officials know that they needed to begin watching for signs of an approaching earthquake.
This proposed computer program might work by producing three dimensional images of the Earth's crust which would show how, when, and where earthquake triggering strain energy is being generated. Its initial data generation routines could be based on the sun and moon gravity and Earth rotation earthquake triggering processes outlined in this report.
Later versions of the program might also consider phenomena and factors such as ocean tides, the solid earth tide, earthquake latitude, depth, fault zone type and orientation (running north and south or east and west etc.), fault zone location relative to the east or west edges of a tectonic plate, the latitudes of the sun and moon at the time of an earthquake, and the changing distance between the sun and the Earth at different times of the year.
WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN AREA EARTHQUAKE STUDIES
Charts should be created which would be similar to the earthquake longitude versus Theta chart in this report. However, they would plot Earthquake Time versus Theta for individual powerful western Pacific Ocean area earthquakes and their aftershocks. I suspect that aftershocks occurring during the days and weeks following the original earthquakes might demonstrate random triggering patterns. But with time they would begin grouping together into the four distinct groups shown in the chart in this report. Such studies might help earthquake forecasters determine the times when destructive aftershocks were most likely to occur in a given fault zone system.
Real Time Earthquake List
Earthquakes of the World
Latitude and longitude information regarding the positions of the sun and the moon at different times can be obtained from programs running at the following Internet Web sites:
or Moon Position Computation
and Moon Data for One Day
And ocean tide information can be found at these Web sites:
Restless Tides, Explanation of Astronomical Factors, Tides and Tidal Currents
Other references can be found at:
Links Page To Earthquake Forecasting Resources