Here are some common misconceptions/myths and other assorted tidbits regarding earthquakes….
Can We Predict ‘Em?
According to our good friends at the United States Geological Survey and Caltech, the answer is no. They would rather focus on the “probability” of an earthquake occurring rather than focusing on an actual prediction. The USGS has focused it efforts in lowering earthquake damages by focusing their efforts in the field of structural engineering rather than in trying to predict when a quake will occur.
How About Animals?
We’ve probably all heard about some “strange behavior” that animals seem to experience right before an earthquake is about to occur. As a matter fact, during an earthquake that occurred in northern California in 1989, a fish in a high school biology lab was recorded flipping over on its side before some earthquakes.
One school of thought has it that most domesticated animals such as dogs, cat’s and horses are able to “predict” upcoming quakes and experience odd behavioral traits.
More research into this phenomenon is being conducted but up to date, both Caltech and the USGS admit that there are too many variables that might affect the behavior of our furry friends to attribute any odd behavior to earthquakes.
A Lot of Little Ones or One Big One?
Earthquake guru’s such as seismologist have determined that for every earthquake that registers a magnitude of 6 on the Richter Scale, there are about 10 that hit magnitude 5, 100 that hit magnitude 4, 1000 that hit magnitude 3 and so on and so on as you go down the line. They have also calculated that it takes about 32 magnitude 5’s to equal one magnitude 6, 1000 magnitude 4’ and 32000 magnitude 3’s also equate to one magnitude 6. That being said, even though we record all of the lower magnitude earthquakes, it’s the big ones that make you sit up and take notice.
Just Add Water?
Based upon those numbers, there is a school of thought that seems to think that if you could trigger a bunch of “smaller” earthquakes, you might be able to forestall the so called “big one”. In order to “trigger” these smaller quakes, earthquake fault lines are injected with water (or any other high pressure fluid) and smaller quakes are generated and the pressure that develops is released.
Remember the commercial that had the saying “It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature?. Many people in the field of earthquake research look at this approach with skepticism since one really has no control of the magnitude of the quake one is trying to induce.
Are you the strong, sensitive type?
Some people claim that they are able to “sense” that an earthquake is in the offing by developing certain symptoms that occur just before an earthquake hits. To date, these is no scientific evidence that suggests this is possible but research is still being conducted.
Go ahead, blame it on the weather
You have to go all the way back 4th century when Aristotle
, (who was right about many thing but probably not this) was of the opinion that earthquakes were causes by winds that were trapped in subterranean caves. Your smaller quakes were thought to have been the result of air pushing on the cavern roofs and your larger variety earthquakes were caused by the air actually breaking the surface. Hence, the theory of “earthquake weather was born. It also led to the theory that earthquakes could be caused by strong winds, fireballs and meteors.
This theory has been basically debunked by modern science. Any changes in air pressure usually occur on the surface of the earth and since earthquakes usually start miles underground, no meteorological forces are at play.
Anybody got the time?
It doesn’t matter. Earthquakes are equally as likely to occur at any time of the day or night throughout the year.
Is it in the stars?
It’s a pretty well known fact that the moon, the sun and other planets have an influence on the earth when it comes to gravity and such things as tides but up to date, there have been no correlations that that can be attributed to those heavenly bodies and earthquakes.