Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Lesson of the Great Japan Earthquake

March 23, 2012 EIR Science 63
The Lesson of the Great
Japan Earthquake
by Oyang Teng

March 11—The death toll from last year’s March 11
earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japan was the
highest in memory for any natural disaster in the industrialized
world, and would have been unimaginably
worse had Japan not been the most disaster-prepared
nation on the planet. A year later, the media continue to
focus on the bogeyman of nuclear contamination, while
the looming and very real threat of future such megaquakes
points to the fundamental question: Can earthquakes
be predicted?
Despite denials on the part of mainstream seismology,
the qualified answer is: Yes.
To understand the scientific debate, it is necessary to
consider how the pervasive reliance on statistical methods
has largely supplanted rigorous physical hypothesizing
in science (as in economics, with similarly destructive
consequences.) At issue, is the fact that the process
of earthquake generation is still poorly understood.
Earthquakes originate deep beneath
the surface and are therefore
outside the range of direct observation.
The field of seismology has,
therefore, come to depend almost exclusively
on the study of how stress
accumulates along faults in the
ground, by measuring minute movements
in the crust. Along with historical
records, examination of sediments
in trenches dug across faults provides
a paleoseismic record of past earthquakes,
from which expected average
rates of motion along a fault are calculated.
Seismic hazard assessment
maps extrapolate such past trends forward
to establish the probability that
a given region will experience an
earthquake of a certain magnitude
within a 30- to 50-year time interval.
Not only are such methods useless
for short-term prediction, but
have failed even within the broad terms set out by the
hazard maps: The Japan quake, for example, occurred in
a region considered relatively low-hazard. This has led
some, such as the University of Tokyo’s Robert Geller,
to declare that earthquakes are inherently unpredictable.
As was done in the field of quantum physics by the irrationalist
Copenhagen School in the 1920s, the shortcomings
of a particular method of scientific investigation
are used to claim that the process under study is
inherently random (and, therefore, unknowable), its behavior
only susceptible to a broad statistical description.
Measurable Precursor Phenomena
This ignores the fact that there is strong evidence of
cyclicity in the appearance of certain earthquakes, on
timescales varying from as short as the 11-year solar
cycle, to as long as the roughly 60-million-year cycles
of volcanic and seismic activity evident in the geological
record. More importantly, there is indisputable evidence
(as presented in LPAC videos over the past year)
that the complex process of earthquake preparation involves
a host of measurable precursor phenomena.
To take the case of the Japan quake, a number of
studies have shown that, in retrospect, clear precursor
signals appeared in the atmosphere and ionosphere in
the days and hours before the main shock struck in the
subduction zone off the country’s northeastern coast.
US Navy/Mass Communication Spc/Ben Farone
One year after the massive Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, the media continue to focus
on the bogeyman of nuclear contamination, while the very real threat of future such
megaquakes points to the fundamental question: Can earthquakes be predicted? Shown:
Matsushima Air Base on March 20, 2011, following the M9 quake of March 11.
64 Science EIR March 23, 2012
These included:
• a sudden decrease in the height of the ionosphere
over the future epicenter, some five days before the
quake, measured by the transmission and reception of
very low frequency radio signals through the ionosphere;
• satellite-detected anomalous infrared emissions
in the atmosphere above the future epicenter beginning
three days before;
• a sudden increase in the total electron content of
the ionosphere over the future epicenter beginning
about one hour before, as measured by GPS satellites.
(For a more detailed treatment, watch for the feature
article on earthquake prediction in the upcoming issue
of 21st Century Science & Technology magazine.)
The key to precursor studies has been a multi-parameter
approach; that is, not only different measurements
of the same parameter (such as ground- and satellite-
based measurements of the electron density of the
ionosphere), but simultaneous measurement of different
signals from the ground, atmosphere, and ionosphere.
Given our current lack of direct observation of
deep-earth processes, these can serve as guideposts for
understanding the underlying physical processes involved
in earthquake formation and triggering.
In the meantime, hindcasts like those performed for
the Japan quake have proven remarkably successful for
a number of medium and large earthquakes studied
with the multi-parameter approach. However, there has
been very little funding for an expanded and integrated
“sensor web” for precursor monitoring, or for scientists
involved in such work to collaborate on real-time prediction.
A notable exception is China, which has
launched an ambitious ground- and satellite-based precuror
monitoring program.
In the United States, the Obama Administration has
led the charge in cutting funding for new Earth-monitoring
satellites, as well as for agencies tasked with disaster
preparation. Meanwhile, scientists have been
warning that the Pacific Northwest would suffer even
greater damage than Japan did if a megaquake struck
the Cascadia subduction zone.
From the standpoint of policy, the tragedy of March
11, 2011 has so far been a catalyst for such anti-scientific
measures as the takedown of nuclear power. Instead,
let it be the catalyst for a new science of earthquake
Featured in the Fall 2011 issue
• “Are Carbonic Solutions Alive?” by V.L. Voeikov and his
research team at the Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Biology.
The article presents their research showing that solutions of ordinary
baking soda show proto-lifelike properties, such as photon emission, water
“burning,’’ and response to lunar and solar eclipses.
• “How a ‘Big Lie’ Launched the LNT Myth and the Great
Fear of Radiation.” This interview with Dr. Edward Calabrese, a
well-known toxicologist discusses his startling discovery that the linear nothreshold
or LNT hypothesis, which governs radiation and chemical protection
policy today, was founded on a deliberate lie to further a political agenda.
• IN MEMORIAM: Zbigniew Jaworowski (1927-2011), including
an obituary, Dr. Jaworowski’s extensive outline for his autobiography, and his
curriculum vitae.
• IN MEMORIAM: Michael R. Fox (1937-2011), including an obituary,
the transcript of an interview (“What We Can Learn from Fukushima’’), and a
remembrance by one of his young students.
• An interview with nuclear expert
Clinton Bastin: “Iran Has a Nuclear Power,
Not a Weapons Program.’’
• An in-depth review of the biography of
Fritz Schumacher, who was a founding father
of today’s green movement, and the inventor
of the murderous concept “small is beautiful.’’
Subscribe! Electronic subscriptions are
$25 for 6 issues, $48 for 12 issues Single electronic copy is $5.
Available at
or send check/money order to
21st Century P.O. Box 16285, Washington, D.C. 20041

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