Quakefinder Blog

Remembering The Loma Prieta Earthquake

Remembering The Loma Prieta Earthquake

Twenty-eight years ago at 5:04 pm, a Magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck northern California. ‘The ‘Loma Prieta’ Earthquake, centered in the Nisene Marks State Park, caused significant damage to Santa Cruz County and as far north as Oakland. Game 3 of the 1989 World Series was just getting started when the temblor sent its P and S waves through the hosting city of San Francisco. This was the first earthquake to ever be broadcast live on television. Lasting approximately 15 seconds, the quake killed 63 and injured nearly 4000 people. Most of the deaths resulted from the collapse of the Nimitz Freeway in Oakland.

Days later, Antony Fraser-Smith, a researcher at Stanford University performing Ultra Low Frequency work for the U.S. Navy, traveled to Santa Cruz county to collect his monitoring equipment which happened to be just miles from the epicenter. Upon review of his recorded data, he noticed anomalous behavior in the days and hours leading up to the quake. Following months of electromagnetically calm data, his instrument had suddenly picked up signals that ‘saturated’ the measurement system.

Past research in Greece, China and Russia had focused on electromagnetic phenomenon as earthquake precursors but the results had been inconclusive. In the decade after Loma Prieta, Fraser-Smith encountered tremendous head-wind from the established earthquake community in his attempts to further study and publish EM-related research. This respected Stanford electrical engineering professor and researcher was an outsider and unprepared for the earthquake-prediction antibodies entrenched in the halls of the U.S. government. Having been swindled by alleged collaborators and publicly accused of falsifying his data, he eventually gave up the campaign in disgust. Scientific change is difficult.

Since 2005, QuakeFinder has taken the helm having deployed 170 remote instruments (similar to Fraser-Smith’s) and collecting/storing data from earthquake-prone countries. With over 1000 earthquakes captured in our database, QuakeFinder is now focused on data science attempting to uncover the precursory behavior ahead of earthquakes as seen by Fraser-Smith. Our results to date indicate a strong statistical correlation between anomalous EM signals and earthquakes. Antony remains a QuakeFinder friend and inspiration. Our mission is to save lives by forecasting earthquakes..and validate his earlier findings!

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