- Civilization's interest in predicting the location and
time of damaging earthquakes is obvious. The potential for devastation
of property that otherwise could be secured, and the loss of life that
otherwise could be prevented, are powerful reasons to find predictive factors.
- Some scientists have become aware of a correlation between
sunspots and earthquakes and want to use the sunspot data to help predict
earthquakes. The theory is that an intensification of the magnetic field
can cause changes in the geo-sphere. The NASA and the European Geosciences
Union have already put their stamp of approval on the sunspot hypothesis,
which suggests that changes in the sun-earth environment affects the magnetic
field of the earth that can trigger earthquakes in areas prone to it. It
is not clear how such a trigger might work.
- In the Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 17, No.
1, pp. 37?71, 2003, there is an excellent report that addresses the more
down-to-earth problems facing geophysicists trying to understand earthquakes.
The paper is titled, Rocks That Crackle and Sparkle and Glow: Strange Pre-Earthquake
Phenomena, by Dr. Friedemann T. Freund, a professor in the Department of
Physics, San Jose State University, and a senior researcher at NASA Ames
Research Center. Dr. Freund writes, "Many strange phenomena precede
large earthquakes. Some of them have been reported for centuries, even
millennia. The list is long and diverse: bulging of the Earth?s surface,
changing well water levels, ground-hugging fog, low frequency electromagnetic
emission, earthquake lights from ridges and mountain tops, magnetic field
anomalies up to 0.5% of the Earth?s dipole field, temperature anomalies
by several degrees over wide areas as seen in satellite images, changes
in the plasma density of the ionosphere, and strange animal behavior. Because
it seems nearly impossible to imagine that such diverse phenomena could
have a common physical cause, there is great confusion and even greater
- Freund outlines the basic problem, "Based on the
reported laboratory results of electrical measurements, no mechanism seemed
to exist that could account for the generation of those large currents
in the Earth?s crust, which are needed to explain the strong EM signals
and magnetic anomalies that have been documented before some earthquakes.
Unfortunately, when a set of observations cannot be explained within the
framework of existing knowledge, the tendency is not to believe the observation.
Therefore, a general malaise has taken root in the geophysical community
when it comes to the many reported non-seismic and non-geodesic pre-earthquake
phenomena? There seems to be no bona fide physical process by which electric
currents of sufficient magnitude could be generated in crustal rocks."
- Freund makes an excellent attempt to explain all of the
phenomena in terms of rock acting like a p-type semi-conducting material
when placed under stress. For example, the emission of positive ions from
the Earth?s surface may act as nuclei for the ground-hugging fog that sometimes
occur prior to earthquake activity. And although the surface potential
may only be in the 1?2-Volt range, the associated electric field can reach
hundreds of thousands of Volts per centimeter, enough to cause corona discharges,
or "earthquake lights." Thermal anomalies seen from space before
an earthquake may be due to the emission of infra-red light where the semi-conductor
charge recombines at the surface. Disturbed animal behavior may be due
to the presence of positive ions in the air.
- As Freund says, this theory places an explanation in
the realm of semiconductor physics, which means that geoscientists are
not the best people to judge it. That explains why the paper appears in
a speculative journal. Freund laments, "the peer review system often
creates near-insurmountable hurdles against the publication of data that
seem contrary to long-held beliefs." Freund has identified a source
of charge in stressed rocks that was not believed possible. He says, "?once
fully told and understood, the "story" [of p-holes] is basically
so simple that many mainstream geoscientists are left to wonder why it
has taken so long for them to be discovered. If they are so ubiquitous
as they appear to be, why did p-holes go unnoticed for over a hundred years?
Confronted with this question, by a twist of logic, many 'mainstreamers'
succumb to the impulse to reject the p-hole concept out of hand.
- The difficulties encountered in the connection with p-holes
are similar to others that have punctuated the history of science. The
discovery of the p-holes as dormant yet powerful charge carriers in the
Earth?s crust calls for a new paradigm in earthquake research and beyond.
More often than not, any call for a new paradigm elicits opposition. Therefore,
I close with a quote from the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, who ventured
to say: 'all truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident'."
- If Freund has a problem getting such a simple idea accepted,
how much more difficult is it going to be to get both astronomers and geoscientists
to accept that the Earth is a charged body in an Electric Universe?
- The missing link between the sunspots and earthquakes
is the fact that the electric discharges on the Sun that cause sunspots
also affect the Earth's ionosphere. The ionosphere forms one "plate"
of a capacitor, while the Earth forms the other. Changes of voltage on
one plate will induce movement of charge on the other. But unlike a capacitor,
the Earth has charge distributed beneath the surface. And if the subsurface
rock has become semi-conducting because of stress, there is an opportunity
for sudden electrical breakdown to occur through that rock. The mystery
of how the current is generated is solved and the link with sunspots exposed.
Subsurface lightning causes earthquakes! Seismic waves are the equivalent
of the rumble of thunder. The energy released may be equivalent to the
detonation of many atomic bombs but only a small proportion needs to come
from the release of strain in the rocks. Most of it comes from the Earth's
stored internal electrical energy.
- The latest issue of the IEEE journal, SPECTRUM, features
an article based on Freund's work that looks at ways of predicting earthquakes.
Once again, it seems that scientific advances fare better today in the
hands of electrical engineers.