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What causes earthquakes?

SATURDAY FEBRUARY 04, 2012

What causes earthquakes?

Since the earth was created about 4.5 billion years ago it has been exposed to natural processes and forcing mechanisms within the solar system. Over those millions of years, the interaction of these processes has implemented a natural climate and a stable planetary rhythm. Cycles are known, otherwise humans would be unable to construct workable planetariums.  On the contrary, these repeating orbiting equations were mathematically worked out by astrologers in ancient times and many cultures. Earthly rhythms are cyclic too, and include day and night, seasons and weather events during the particular season, short-term climate fluctuations and oscillations within seasons, and long-term climate change cycles such as glacial periods approximately every 100,000 years.

 

There are also rhythms on the inside of the planet.  Hundreds of earthquakes occur daily around the world in response to cosmic influences, amounting to thousands during any year.  NZ gets about 15,000 recorded earthquakes per year on average, but in the past year we have had some 35,000. Christchurch has had about a third of these. Since the majority of earthquakes are of minor intensity, only a small fraction will ever make the news. So what rhythms within cause the earth's crust to suddenly break and cause an earthquake? The first mistake is to think of them as something unusual. The tide at the beach is a daily ocean surge, a constant ripple that ebbs and flows. Earthquakes are vertical tides of pressure-release that begin way beyond the crust-tectonic-plates, with shake pulses as far down as 400kms. These land tides actually happen every day but are only recorded as earthquakes when they become felt and/or destructive. Every day of every year the land tide makes NZ’s ground surface rise about 8" per day towards the transiting moon and then recede again as the moon sets. Australia daily rises and falls about 50cms. When the moon is closer to earth (perigee), the land tide is higher. On 4 September 2010 the moon was at its second closest perigee dfistance for the year.

 

Just above the surface of the Earth, the atmosphere moves fluidly around the planet.  It is a virtual “ocean” above our heads, and gravitation oscillations cause stress and tidal fluctuations on the three movable oceans - air, water, and land. Beneath the atmosphere is the bulk of the planet called the land, consisting of 32% iron. The first layer of earth is the crust, containing oceans and fresh water lakes, but it is a thin layer only 5-75 kms deep.  Beneath the crust is the mantle to a depth of about 2900kms. This is the largest layer of earth, comprised mostly of silicate rocks rich in magnesium and iron.  Beneath the mantle is the outer core of mostly liquid iron.  Finally, in the center of the earth is the solid inner core, mostly iron. Although no one has been down there for a look, the inner core is thought to be a solid ball about 80% the size of the moon, and which is electrically charged.

 

One can imagine a giant horseshoe magnet clipping snugly around a big sphere - the earth, such that the N of the magnet is over the North Pole and the S of the other end of the horseshoe is over the South Pole. That causes an electromagnetic field around the magnet and also, by juxtaposition, the sphere. Take away the sphere and the electromagnetic field is still there between the magnets. Now imagine a moveable section of iron-ore positioned somewhere between the poles, embedded in geological material of lesser magnetisation. Introduce an electrical current to the structure, with perhaps imaginary wires to the poles. The area of iron would move forward with respect to its surrounding substrata, something an electrical engineer would call a solenoid. Now replace that sphere and imagine it to be planet earth, with areas of ore in the interior which respond to electrical stimulation. When an outside current is introduced, e.g. times of increased solar output, parts within the earth can be imagined to act in the same way as a solenoid, wishing to move perpendicular to the poles and emerging to the surface until the potential charge difference dissipates.

 

Imagine too, that in a year of a more active sun, such as been the case since the last third of 2010, the solenoid-effect increases. Even a simple solenoid is hard to restrain, so the force of such an earth-solenoid effect would be unstoppable. Instead of a simple relay switch with a movable rod the earthly equivalent could be a rod of earth several miles wide, moving at 22,000 mph, with the force of 43 Hiroshima bombs pushing through surrounding rock. It would easily push aside tectonic plates at the surface, for it will emerge at their junction, being the quickest way to the surface through media of lesser density. The scar it leaves on the landscape would get to be called a fault line. The fault-line and the “rubbing together of the plates” are not the cause. Sometimes as this earth plug emerged it would bring earth to the surface forming hills, volcanoes, and eventually possibly a whole mountain chain. Eventually the results of the event may be called an island or a country

 

That some may not concur with this theory is understandable. The astronomer notices only electromagnetism coming from the sun and assumes it reaches earth, but cares little for what becomes of it because his focus is skywards. An electrical engineer knows the solenoid scenario but before and aftereffects are of lesser consideration. The seismologist’s training begins where tectonic plates begin their movement. None of the aforementioned would think cycles have much to contribute, and although the astronomers are aware of them, they have greater interest in what can be seen coming and going, rather than how often. Cycles mean nothing to the electrician, and the seismologist examines fault-lines for cycles at specific locations, rather than for the whole globe, of which a particular earthquake is just one small event out of many.

 

On 22 February 2011 a flurry of solar activity was unleashed from the sun and headed towards earth. It was a full moon in perigee three days before, which gravitationally stressed the planet's inner core, setting up potential for ground movement. The solar activity, helped by an interplanetary alignment increased the electromagnetic field around earth, such that flashes were seen in the sky and weird clouds. A large section of ore 12kms beneath the surface began to move upwards and emerged in an unexpected part of the Christchurch CBD.  The solar physicists said the sun caused it. The electrical engineer thought of things electrical, because moving rocks give off a current which can cause flashes on the horizon. Animals complained because they felt itchy, probably because the air was statically charged. Geologists saw that tectonic plates moved and blamed that. Seismologists said they had been expecting it anytime over the next 18,000 years.  Christchurch residents did not sit around pondering the matter, with many vacating the area.

 

It is the beauty of the internet that we now know that on the same day that the 6.3mag earthquake shook Christchurch, an almighty volcano went up in Shiveluch, Central Kamchatka, Russia, throwing giant rocks 6kms into the air. That day also, Mt Kilauea erupted in Hawaii. During 21-22 February, pilots reported that ash plumes rose to altitudes of 2.4-2.7 km (8,000-9,000 ft) from Sakura-Jima one of Japan's most active volcanoes. Three days before, on the 18th, Tengger Caldera on Eastern Java (Indonesia) blew its stack, as did Mt Planchon-Peteroa on the Central Chile-Argentina border. Mt Stromboli, Aeolian Islands (Italy) erupted between 17-23 February. In Santa Maria, Guatemala, on 22 February, incandescent avalanches originated from the top of Caliente dome. Also on 22 February there was a 6.2mag earthquake near the east coast of Kamchatka, Russia, also Volcano Islands, Japan received a 5.7mag, also Baja in Califirnia received a 5.0mag, and as well a 5.8mag earthquake occurred in Santiago Del Estero, Argentina. Also, there were numerous smaller unreported events.

 

But it wasn’t gigantic coincidence. In short, it wasn’t just Christchurch and it wasn't a mysterious one-off. The earth was being charged as one body and the inner core responded, creating strain and stress-release around the globe, in response to a cosmic cycle fluctuation. Earthquakes eventually lessen in an affected location as the positioning of the earth-solenoid effect moves on. Overall earthquakes have diminishrd in numbers in Christchurch by 70% since April 2011, but it is typically a 2-3 year timeline. Realising this perspective can enable an affected region to start planning its rebuild when this timeline lapses. It might also provide some acceptance of the situation as it really is.


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