There have been a number of devastating earthquakes in the last decade, including a 7.8 magnitude quake that occurred almost one year ago in Nepal. The force of that mighty quake has been described as the same as that of 20 thermonuclear weapons. When the earth’s movement is that powerful, many lives are taken and the number of injuries is staggering. When mega-quakes occur, many people wonder if it is possible to predict an earthquake.
Currently, there are several countries that have organizations dedicated to predicting earthquake activity. While Japan and China are committed to finding ways to forecast seismic activity, the United States is way behind other countries when it comes to research related to predicting destructive earthquakes. There are a number of scientists who believe that any type of earthquake prediction is impossible, while others believe that current knowledge of seismic movement, tectonic plates and historical data allows for some general prediction. If you live on the West Coast, you are well aware that many scientists are predicting a strong and destructive quake sometime in the next 20-30 years. Most people, including commercial property owners, want more specific predictions before making plans to ensure their buildings are adequately strengthened and reinforced.
Seismologists are currently looking at conjoined and gravitational tides as they relate to possible earthquake forecasting. Gravitational tides are one of most powerful forces in the universe; even volcanoes on Jupiter are influenced by these tides. Because these gravitational tides are so incredibly forceful, they have the power to activate any fault line in California. Those fault lines that are already stressed may well be at risk of underground seismic activity caused by these gravitational forces.
While current scientific thoughts lean towards gravitational tides being a secondary force when it comes to seismic movement, a look at the historical earthquake records in southern California shows that there is evidence that conjoined solar and lunar gravitational effects may have a more important role that previously thought. Data from earthquake activity in California between the Long Beach quake in 1933 and the Northridge quake in 1994 documents six earthquakes powerful enough to cause major damage and a considerable number of casualties. It is interesting to note that each of those violent quakes happened either at dusk or at dawn and they were all within 70 miles of downtown Los Angeles. Documentation shows that two-thirds of the quakes occurred within 36 hours of a new or full moon phase, the point when the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon come together.
Armed with this information and insight regarding solar and lunar gravitational forces, scientists may find that with additional research, they may develop the potential to predict future earthquakes. Studying the conjoined gravitational forces from the sun and the moon may be the key to forecasting temblors along the many fault lines in California. Further research may actually find that certain time periods (dawn and dusk) during new and full moon phases may hold a stronger probability for devastating seismic activity.
Unfortunately, at least for now, predicting specifically when and where an earthquake will occur is not an possible. We do have the ability, however, to maximize the safety and security of existing structures before the next mega-quake occurs. If you are a commercial property owner and your building is more than 25 years old, it is time to consider an earthquake retrofit – before it is too late.
Experienced commercial earthquake retrofit contractors can provide a thorough building inspection to determine any maintenance and structural updates necessary to strengthen and reinforce your building. Call Saunders Seismic Commercial Retrofit today for more information or to schedule an inspection.