I am in eastern Oklahoma and followed the tornadoes that ripped across the central portion of the state very closely last night. I literally had the
live stream form KFOR, the local scanner, as well as the National Weather Channel on watching everything unfold. I am originally from the Oklahoma
City area, and all of my family still lives in that area of the state so anytime there is a tornado out there, I watch and I pray. (The tornadoes out
in Edmond clipped one of my family members homes, but all are ok!)
The ones that hit last night were quite large compared to most of the ones we see and reminded me of the May 3rd tornado that hit the Moore/Norman
area in 1999 where I worked search and rescue. That one left an amazing amount of damage in it's wake and the one yesterday in Shawnee left a very
similar damage path. You can see pics of it in this thread: More Tornado Madness
So this morning I get up to check and see what they ended up classifying the Shawnee tornado as (I am guessing an EF4 - EF5), no word on that yet. So
then I go check on earthquakes around the world and see that there was a mag 2.9 that hit the Luther area shortly after a large tornado went directly
through that part of the state.
USGS-M2.9 - 11km ENE of Luther, Oklahoma
Now I have lived in OK all my life and I have never heard of a tornado causing or even registering as an earthquake, but I figured why not look into
it. I have definitely never noticed any correlation in the two in the past, but then again, I only recently have been paying attention to
earthquakes. I don't claim to be any authority or expert on either of the two, but just wanted to present what I found to the ATS community to see
what some of you more experienced folks thought about the possibility of a tornado causing an earthquake.
I did a an online search and found someone else asking the same question about storms in general.... Can storms trigger earthquakes? They got two
separate answers one said yes, one said no.
It's possible. According to a study in Nature (June 2009), typhoons in the South Pacific Ocean sparked small earthquakes along the fault between
the Philippine Sea Plate and the Eurasian Plate. However, the study pointed out that the storms did not cause the earthquakes, but only accelerated
their timing - the earthquakes would have happened anyway.
There was also a University of Miami study (December 2010) which linked the Haiti earthquake of January 2010 to the strong tropical storms in the
region in 2008. This is a new scientific theory which could be wrong, but there's definitely evidence that some storms can cause earthquakes.
I can not see the direct correlation between a storm and an earthquake...
Earthquakes are caused by a move in the tectonic plates (huge plates that form part of the Earth's crust). These are always on the move, and when
they have moved enough against one another, there is a huge outleash of kinetic energy (a bit like an elastic band breaking) and one plate moves above
the other causing massive vibrations which creates the earthquake.
This all happens at ground level, and the level of the forces are massive (far more than a storm, even though on ground level, the forces might seem
immense). Relatively speaking it would be like trying to repel a massive body of water by trying to blow on it....
I am sure that there is a connection however between storms and earthquakes, but would never say that a storm created an earthquake
That second answer is a bit confusing, he says that he sees no direct correlation, but is sure there is a connection.
I looked up the article from Nature about the Typhoons triggering earthquakes in Taiwan. In it, geophysicists have been looking more into the
Now, scientists in the United States and Taiwan have examined slow earthquake events in eastern Taiwan that occurred between 2002 and 2007. They
found that 11 out of 20 slow quakes coincided with typhoons — tropical cyclones that originate in the northwest Pacific Ocean. During typhoons, the
atmospheric pressure on land is reduced, and at least in the case of eastern Taiwan, this pressure change seems to be enough to unclamp a fault that
is under strain and to cause a fault failure.
Typhoons Triggering Gentler Quakes
Although the Cascadia region is not affected by typhoons, it does experience extensive low-pressure atmospheric systems that could produce small
stress changes within the crust. These might be similar to those occurring in eastern Taiwan, says Herb Dragert, a geophysicist with the Geological
Survey of Canada in Sidney, British Columbia, who was not involved in the study. To date, no one has investigated whether atmospheric pressure changes
could be triggering ETS events, says Dragert. But the similarity between this latest study and previous ones, he notes, is that "very small stress
changes can initiate this kind of slow slip and slow earthquake phenomenon".
So that's all I have for the moment. I haven't been able to find much else which might point to the fact that it is a ridiculous theory, or it may
be due to that fact that it is just starting to be recognized. Has anyone noticed a correlation between tornadoes/storms and earthquakes? Could
these atmospheric changes be what is triggering small quakes in Oklahoma? Could the lack of severe weather mean a larger quake for Oklahoma?
2011 saw the largest drought in Oklahoma since 1921, worse than the Dust Bowl of the 30's.
In most years, the dark clouds over western Oklahoma in the spring would be bringing rain. This year, they're more likely to be smoke from
wildfires that have burned thousands of acres in the past month as the state and its farmers struggle with a severe drought.
That was in April. In November, Oklahoma experienced a 5.6 -the worst quake ever recorded in Oklahoma history.
Oklahomans more accustomed to tornadoes than earthquakes suffered through a weekend of temblors that cracked buildings, buckled a highway and
rattled nerves. One jolting quake late Saturday was the state's strongest ever and shook a college football stadium 50 miles away while another of
lesser intensity struck before dawn Sunday
So could the lack of severe weather in the area that year have caused the buildup to a much larger quake? If what the scientist were saying in the
above study is correct, then the severe weather we normally experience might be causing the release of smaller quakes and preventing a larger one from
hitting like it did in 2011.
Has anyone else noticed this before or is this merely a coincidence?