Quakefinder Blog

Did you see it? M5.8 quake in Virginia felt througout the East coast

We were as amazed as anyone to learn of the M5.8 earthquake that occurred in Virginia this morning! This just goes to show that earthquakes are incredibly unpredictable. BUT – we do believe we will find a way to make reliable FORECASTS of earthquakes days to weeks before they occur. We are all just starting to learn of the impact, such as damage to the National Cathedral spire. Thankfully, it appears so far that no one was seriously hurt. The offices of QuakeFinder’s parent company were shut, along with many others, in the immediate aftermath. And in a faint echo of this year’s disastrous Japanese quake, the North Anna nuclear plant in Virginia was shut down. No, QuakeFinder did not “see” the Virginia earthquake coming. Our network does not include locations on the East coast. To develop reliable forecasting methods we need to capture data for many more earthquakes. The best way to do this is to put our instruments in places that have earthquakes frequently, such as California and Peru. It will be a long time before we have sensors in places like Virginia that have earthquakes so rarely. Already there is lots of analysis and reporting of the event and probability that it would happen in this time and place. All of this will be of zero use to those who would have liked to know BEFORE the earthquake that one was imminent. Someday we’ll be able to provide that warning.

QuakeFinder’s partnership with the SETI Institute

Today QuakeFinder and the SETI Institute are announcing a new partnership. The goal is to accelerate our research toward a practical system for giving warning of major quakes days to weeks before they occur. (Press Release here.) QuakeFinder has been collaborating with SETI (and NASA Ames) researcher Friedemann Freund for years. In 2009, Tom Bleier and Dr. Freund performed a major experiment together, showing that a 7-ton boulder exhibits the same electrical and magnetic phenomena as Freund observed in his lab, and QuakeFinder records in the field. What’s new is that the partnership has been formalized such that QuakeFinder and the Institute can work better together. ·The 501c3 status of the SETI Institute will allow foundations, corporations, and individuals to make tax-deductible contributions that will be used both to expand the QuakeFinder network and to fund new experiments to solidify the theory and its connection to the real world. Please consider making a donation to support this important work. To learn more, contact: Tom Bleier, at 650-473-9870; or email tbleier@quakefinder.com.

Earthquakes in Oklahoma, Peru, and Taiwan

We continue to see significant quakes occurring in places near where we have instruments, but not quite near enough to pick up signals. Taiwan had a M6.9 on Nov. 8, but it was off the coast and 500km from our nearest instrument, even though we just installed several new ones. And the quake in Peru on October 28 had the same magnitude but was, again, off the coast and too far from our instruments. These events give us confidence that we’re focusing on the right locations, and it’s just a matter of time before we record signals before another significant quake – in one of these locations, or here in California. The earthquakes in Oklahoma are another matter entirely! The Oklahoma Geological Survey is reporting that there are many times more earthquakes there since mid-2009 than in previous years. But that doesn’t mean we should to running to install instruments there. We need to be in the places that are most likely to have significant (>5.0) earthquakes frequently. That means California, Peru, Taiwan, and starting next week – Greece. (We had plans to go to Chile and Turkey this year too, but those installations were delayed by various political events out of our control.) Our five-year goal is to record signals for at least three more earthquakes. To help make that happen, we are working toward installing 100 instruments a year. But that will require new sponsors. We are working hard to build our people network as well as our instrument network, looking for like-minded people who want to change the world and save lives by making useful earthquake forecasts happen sooner. To donate or connect us with someone who can help, visit our Donate page or email Tom Bleier.

Earthquake forecasts/predictions/warnings: what does “short term” mean?

We recently became aware of the Quake-Catcher Network project at Stanford. From their web site: “The Quake-Catcher Network is a collaborative initiative for developing the world’s largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to internet-connected computers.” This project to “catch” quakes as they happen could provide very short-term warning to people in the affected area. Depending on distance from the epicenter, you might get a few seconds up to a minute or so of awareness that a quake was about to occur (read more here.) But what can we do with just a few seconds warning? We can take immediate action such as turning off the stove, or hiding under a desk – but little else to really prepare. This certainly has the potential to save lives and money, and we applaud every effort to create earthquake warnings. QuakeFinder is aiming for warnings days to weeks before major quakes. With more warning, people will be able to make much more extensive preparations, such as avoiding hazardous areas, not traveling on certain days, or adjusting production or shipping schedules. Comment on this post to tell us what you would do if you had knew a major quake would hit your area within two weeks. Links: Seeking Citizen Seismologists in the Bay Area