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Solar Activity and Earthquakes

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posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 05:42 PM
As we begin to enter into solar cycle 24 (which is predicted to peak in early 2013) there has been a lot of discussion about the relationship between geomagnetic storms and earthquakes. There seems to be a belief that, along with an increase in geomagnetic activity caused by increased solar activity, we should prepare for an increase in earthquake frequency and magnitude.

I've decided to look for evidence of such a relationship in historical data. For earthquake data I will use the USGS database located here: For solar and geomagnetic data I will use data which is available here: . It should be noted that none of the charts I will be using are scaled but it is the shape of the curve rather than the absolute amplitude which is important.

The first thing I will examine is the frequency of earthquakes as compared to the level of solar activity. I will base solar activity on the annual sunspot number and I will compare it to the annual number of earthquakes of magnitude 6.5 and greater. Here is a chart representing these two datasets covering the past three solar cycles.

It can be seen that there is no apparent connection between the 11 year solar cycle and the frequency of earthquakes. But what about the magnitude of those earthquakes? Here I have plotted the total annual energy (magnitude) of the earthquakes.

It can be seen that the shape of the energy curve is very similar to that of the frequency curve. This indicates that there is a fairly constant ratio between the number of stronger earthquakes to those of less magnitude. Again we see that there is no apparent connection between the amount of energy released by earthquakes and the solar cycle.

While sunspot numbers are a good indication of solar activity it may be better to look at something which we know is directly affected by that activity and which in turn may influence earthquakes, an intermediary so to speak. We know that solar activity can heavily influence the Earth's magnetosphere, creating fluctuations which we know as geomagnetic storms. Can we find a relationship between these storms and earthquake activity?

The primary method of measuring geomagnetic activity is though the Kp index, a measure of the amount of fluctuation in the Earth's magnetic field. For this part of the study I will be using a daily Kp index. Since this amounts to a very large amount of data I will limit the study first to an annual look and then at a smaller scale view. Here I have plotted the daily Kp index and the daily total earthquake energy. For this finer scale data I have included earthquakes of 4.0 and greater. Here are the plots for 1998 (the beginning of the last solar cycle) and 2001 (the peak).

The first thing we notice is that the data is very noisy. This is something that does make finding correlations difficult. I'm not a statistician and I don't know how to do Fourier analysis (which might be helpful) but there is no apparent connection between a high Kp index and earthquake activity. We see several large peaks in Kp index with no unusual earthquake activity at the time or at any particular interval afterward. We see peaks of earthquake activity with no particular increase in geomagnetic activity.

Now lets try to look closer. I've selected a subset of the data in which there was a fairly high amount of geomagnetic activity over a three month period.

Again, we see the same thing; peaks of geomagnetic activity with no corresponding change in earthquake activity, peaks of earthquake activity with no geomagnetic activity to go along with it. We do see some occurrences which seem to have a relationship but there are many more which do not. We see no relationship between the intensity of geomagnetic activity and earthquake energy. Because of this it cannot be said that there is a relationship between solar or geomagnetic activity and earthquake frequency and magnitude.

[edit on 4/7/2010 by Phage]

posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 05:56 PM
Thanks for the thread. This is a subject that I am actually very interested in, although my conclusion is different than yours and perhaps incorrect -- I hope to find out.

Does the following, to you, not make any sense and is merely "made-up" fabrication? No sarcasm intended. It's a serious question.

I ask, because looking at your graph, their findings were accurate. There were a peak number of earthquakes in 1995.

The relations between sunspot numbers and earthquakes (M≧6), solar 10.7 cm radio flux and earthquakes, solar proton events and earthquakes have been analyzed in this paper. It has been found that:

(1) Earthquakes occur frequently around the minimum years of solar activity. Generally, the earthquake activities are relatively less during the peak value years of solar activity, some say, around the period when magnetic polarity in the solar polar regions is reversed.

(2) the earthquake frequency in the minimum period of solar activity is closely related to the maximum annual means of sunspot numbers, the maximum annual means of solar 10.7 cm radio flux and solar proton events of a whole solar cycle, and the relation between earthquake and solar proton events is closer than others.

(3) As judged by above interrelationship, the period from 1995 to 1997 will be the years while earthquake activities are frequent. In the paper, the simple physical discussion has been carried out.

Study: Beijing Astronomical Observatory, Chinese Academy of Science, 100101 Beijing, China

posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 06:03 PM
reply to post by lpowell0627

Well, they did get one year right but I find this interesting regarding the article:

Received: 4 July 1997 Revised: 25 November 1997 Accepted: 25 November 1997

It was not received until 1997. Presumably to count as a prediction it would have to have been written prior to 1995. One would wonder why they would wait until 1997 to submit it.

posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 06:56 PM
reply to post by Phage

Some blame HAARP for the recent activity or Cern.

I say an evil ET (played by David Duchovny). James Bond (Daniel Craig) must be dispatched to South America where he will be joined by senior CIA agent (Bruce Willis) in an attempt to find the ET and disable his part of the earthquake device.

The main device is in space and harnesses solar energy into a quantum wave that is barely detectable. The evil ET is insane and accompanied by a beautiful and exotic ET female assistant who will tempt Bond.

The ET is human in form and runs a curiousity shop, with antiques. Watch out for the hidden tentacles!

And there you have it. Feature new music and a good splash intro. A hit, the planet saved.

posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 07:04 PM
Just wanted to throw this in, and please forgive my ignorance on the subject, although I will say that with posts like these I am becoming more and more educated. Thank You!

Now concerning this:

Earth has a diameter of approximately 12,756 km (7,972 mi). The Earth's interior consists of rock and metal. It is made up of four main layers:
1) the inner core: a solid metal core made up of nickel and iron (2440 km diameter)
2) the outer core: a liquid molten core of nickel and iron
3) the mantle: dense and mostly solid silicate rock
4) the crust: thin silicate rock material

The movement of material deep within the Earth may cause large plates made of the crust and upper mantle, called the lithospheric plates, to move slowly over the Earth’s surface. It is also possible that these currents generate the Earth's magnetic field, called the magnetosphere.

The Earth has a magnetic field with north and south poles. The magnetic field of the Earth is enclosed in a region surrounding the Earth called the magnetosphere. As the Earth rotates, its hot core generates strong electric currents that produce the magnetic field. This field reaches 36,000 miles into space. The magnetosphere prevents most of the particles from the sun, carried in solar wind, from impacting the Earth. The solar wind distorts the shape of the magnetosphere by compressing it at the front and causing a long tail to form on the side away from the Sun. This long tail is called the magnetotail.

The Sun and other planets have magnetospheres, but the Earth has the strongest one of all the rocky planets. The Earth's north and south magnetic poles reverse at irregular intervals of hundreds of thousands of years. In addition, the poles wander over shorter periods of time (hundreds of years).

Structure of the Interior of Earth
Earth's Magnetosphere

I think it's safe to say that the inner workings of the Earth are speculative. The second portion of that excerpt states how the currents "may" generate the magnetic field. So if the magnetic field is being disrupted via a Geomagentic Storm, it "may" be disturbing the currents that are causing the lithospheric plates to move, and thus, with an ere of plausibility causing erratic movements of the plates to occur and ultimately causing an earthquake.

It also mentions Pole Shifts:

In the past 15 million years scientists found pole shifts occurred four times every 1 million years. Though this averages out to once every 250,000 years, switches do not occur at regular intervals. During one period in the Cretaceous, polarity remained constant for as long as 30 million years, though this is believed to be an anomaly. The last pole shift took place 790,000 years ago; causing some scientists to believe we're due, while others speculate a reversal is already underway.

What is a Pole Shift?

As far as these sources ehhh, but it is still something to ponder, perhaps it is an array of events that modern man has yet to witness and/or happened so long ago that there is no scientific record of similar recent events. Perhaps it is a combination of occurrences that Science is just unaware of as of yet. "Eureka" may be right around the corner, but until then we will continue to question all possibilities...even HAARP

It suffices to say that we don't know all there is to know. I think the more possibilities we ponder, the closer we get to that "Eureka" moment.

We need more threads like this!

[edit on 4/7/2010 by UberL33t]

posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 07:15 PM
Excellent work Phage. Very easy to read and understand for the likes of me!

As you know there have been many ongoing debates over this, especially since the last couple of big quakes.

It's good to see the statistics together for the first time (quakes and Solar activity), and see clearly that there is no connection there.

Now i'd like to see you do a similar thread which proves that HAARP has nothing to do with quakes also......

(sorry for mentioning the H word...couldnt help myself)

posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 07:36 PM
reply to post by UberL33t

The whole point is discussion. This isn't a "published" paper but on ATS we are all "peers".

The data I posted does not show a relationship. But you bring up a good point. If there were a relationship, what could the mechanism for it be? Let's look at your idea of a sort of "reverse feedback" effect.

First of all, while movement of the material of the outer core may be the cause of tectonic movement, it is not the proximate cause of earthquakes. Earthquakes are caused by the sudden release of pressure which has built up over time in faults in the earths crust.

The strength of Earth's magnetic field at the earth's surface is at its strongest near the poles and at its weakest near the equator. At the poles its strength is over 60 microteslas and at the equator its about half that.

For a comparison, a refrigerator magnet (a strong one) has a strength of .01 tesla, more that 160 times more powerful than the Earth's field at the poles.

At the peak of the recent geomagnetic storm the magnetometer at Boulder, Colorado recorded a fluctuation of about 125 nanoteslas. That is .125 microteslas, 1/480th of the strength of the magnetic field at the equator and 80,000 times less powerful than that refrigerator magnet.

The actual magnetic fluctuations produced by a geomagnetic storm are minuscule. But there is another problem. The outer core, where the Earth's field is thought to originate, consists mostly of molten iron and nickel. Molten iron is very hot, at a temperature far higher than the Curie point so it is not affected magnetically by a fluctuating magnetic field. The field, even if it were strong enough, cannot move the liquid metal of the outer core.

posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 07:41 PM
I can't help but mention that you have not included any evidence that contradicts what you are saying, or how you have failed to mention the scientific studies in the US, China, and Russia that came up with conclusions that are different than your own. I won't bother to repost them here, since I already posted them in the other earthquake threads...but just so everyone knows, there are many scientists, and hard scientific studies that disagree with you.

One of those studies is posted in the NASA-Smithsonian Library, one of them was published by the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the other was published by the Chinese Academy of Science. All three studies came up with conclusions different than your own.

I am not saying you are wrong and they are right...but yesterday, when I prompted you to show me scientific data that was published in peer-reviewed journals, you could only show me one, from Turkey.

I'm sure I could come up with many, many more articles that support the first three studies I've mentioned....can you?

posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 08:12 PM
reply to post by nikiano

There don't really seem to be many articles available but the ones you mention seem to require a lot of data manipulation to come to their conclusions. As I said, I am not a statistician. The various harmonic transforms and regression analyses I see mentioned in those papers make my eyes glaze over but they seem to be designed to make the results fit the data. In the few cases where a full paper is readily available it doesn't really seem to be that tight of a fit.

Spectral analysis of time series of the earthquakes was carried out by the method of maximum entropy, using filters the lengths of which was selected taking into account the necessity of studying of high-frequency spectrum component (with T≤30). The results of studying of spectral particularities of time series of the earthquakes with M ≥7 showed, that the major part of the harmonics in the spectra of earthquakes and Wolf number coincides. Picture 8 shows that character harmonics in spectra are T=18-22 years, 10-11 years and 8 years. It should be noted, that in the spectrum, that covers time series of the earthquakes from 1600 to 2000, the indicated harmonics were detected more accurate, than of the same for the period of 1902-2000. According to our explanation that occurs because of specificity of the method applied, the effectiveness of which increases when increasing the lengths of original row. As you see from the shown spectra, the 11-year and 22-year cyclicity is appears more accurate.

On the other hand, this paper uses a much more direct approach to the data, similar to mine. How much geomagnetic and/or solar activity was there and how many earthquakes were there?

When it is considered that the aftershocks are also included in the number of earthquakes which have been taken into the comparison, in the area within the given coordinates, there is no finding that shows that the earthquakes occur as a result of a triggering under the effect of geomagnetic storm. In order to mention such a finding, more number of earthquakes should occur with percentages that correspond to geomagnetic storms. This is not verified by the results.

[edit on 4/7/2010 by Phage]

posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 08:40 PM

posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 09:10 PM
Props Phage for getting down to the nitty gritty...

Definitely a significant proposal of data from that side of the debate. Star and Flag.

I am not sure which side of the fence I will land... but I'm definitely leaning towards geomagnetic activity having an effect on tectonic activity.

Your graphs show a one-to-one relationship between the sun and earthquakes...

But the problem is(and this is why we need a good ATS research thread like this) that there are probably many many more factors involved.

I mentioned in the previous thread we were talking about this, that other planets and the moon definitely have effects as well (however minute).

So perhaps it is not a one-to-one relationship. In fact, I feel safe in assuming that it is NOT a one-to-one relationship.

Besides theoretical physics, my other hobby on ATS is esoteric and ancient civilization studying. So to me, this whole debate around the relationship of celestial bodies and solar activity affecting tectonic/magnetosphere here on Earth is:

As Above, So Below.

Now, we need to get some astronomers in this thread to tell us the relationships of the other celestial bodies in relation to earth, during high tectonic activity.

Plotting that data against your own, Phage, is the direction I think further research should be focused on.

I'll be the first to say that that is an enormous task, worthy of a collaborative undertaking by many experts and disciplines.

Great thread. Will be back.

posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 10:07 PM
Great stuff, Phage - lots of chew on and very relevant at the moment.


posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 10:13 PM
This is awesome Phage, thank you.

posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 10:38 PM
Nice post and research. I think there may be a correlation to gravitational anomalies though, in my opinion. I don't know if you researched that possible connection.
I had a recent post that sort of used a map of those anomalies to speculate about the New Madrid fault.

recent post with grav map link

posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 11:01 PM
reply to post by Phage

Is there an understandable science here that other theories could explain?

I would say not.

posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 11:21 PM
reply to post by beebs

I mentioned in the previous thread we were talking about this, that other planets and the moon definitely have effects as well (however minute).

Funny you should mention this. I spent a couple of weeks wading through masses of data on Planetary Oppositions and Conjuntions a wee while ago.

I compared the conjunction/opposition dates (over a period from 1980 until 2007) with any significant Earthquakes here on Earth and found absolutely nothing worth noting.

No evidence to back it up, but all this would take weeks to post.

The information is all online after some digging.


posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 11:31 PM
nice work dude!

can this be safely classed as bunk now?

what i find funny with the first few sets of data (sunspot / earthquake) ... the only pattern i could spot when sunspots are high is that their always seems to be a DIP in the earthquake chart level when their is a rise in the sunspot level! (as seen between years 1981-82, 1989-90 and marginaly at 2001-02).

ALSO, whats happening between 1993-1998! when sunspots are at one of the lowest points in 20 years, the earthquakes are at their highest point on that whole 35 year scale!

i call bunk! and im no scientist!

posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 11:36 PM
If it isn't the Sun causing all the earthquakes then it has to be the Annunakeez. They're holy arrival springs ever closer and with it the destruction of this mindless planet.


Jokes aside, pretty interesting read. Nice to see some data which correlates with what most people are saying. Looking at 1993-1998 and 2003-3008, connection or not, when the sunspot numbers are low the earthquakes spiked just a bit. Maybe I'm just seeing things. Good read.

posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 11:41 PM
reply to post by grantbeed

That doesn't surprise me too much. While there is some evidence that the Moon's tidal influence can affect certain types of faults, the influences of the Sun and other planets is so slight that it cannot really even be considered.

The Sun, as massive as it is, exerts less than half the slight tidal force of the Moon. The tidal force of Jupiter, which at its closest is still more than 4 times further away than the Sun and is far less massive, is ummm...really, really, really small. Mars gets closer but it is so small that it doesn't matter. Saturn is so very, very far away that it doesn't matter. So in spite of what Gribbin and Plagemann predicted in 1974 (The Jupiter Effect) no alignment of the planets can have an appreciable effect. There were no catastrophies on March 10, 1982.

posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 11:46 PM
reply to post by boaby_phet

There are a couple of papers, including those pointed out by nikiano, make that connection too. But if you look at the 1986 minimum it doesn't hold, there is no noticeable increase.

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