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Predicting Earthquakes – Is It Possible?

Predicting Earthquakes – Is It Possible?

There are a number of nations, including Japan and China, that have long established agencies dedicated to forecasting seismic activity.  Unfortunately, the United States seems to be bringing up the rear.  Some in the scientific community still talk about the so-called impossibility of even attempting to predict an earthquake.  On the other hand, there are other scientists and authorities who are predicting that a “BIG ONE” will occur on the West Coast, along one of the many California fault lines, sometime in the next 30 years.

Interestingly, there is one specific dynamic that should capture everyone’s attention on the West Coast:  conjoined solar and lunar gravitational tides.  Gravitational tides are one of the predominant forces of the cosmos.  Some of the solar system’s most symbolic features are shaped by them; picture the ferocious volcanoes of Jupiter’s moon, not to mention the super geysers of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus.  These powers are enough to push the California fault lines into action, especially those particular fault lines already under extreme pressure.

The currently accepted scientific view is that while tidal influence is a secondary force in seismic activity, it is a minor stimulus for producing earthquakes powerful enough to cause injury and destruction.  If you really look at the historical record in Southern California, however, it provides interesting evidence that this opinion may underestimate conjoined lunar and solar gravitational effects.

Looking at the seismic activity between 1933, the year of the Long Beach earthquake, and 1994, the year of the Northridge quake, there were six earthquakes strong enough to cause fatalities; those six earthquakes all occurred within 70 miles of the metropolitan Los Angeles area.  Each of those earthquakes were 5.7+ magnitude and they all happened either at dawn or at dusk.  Every person who was killed in a Los Angeles area earthquake during those 61 years died between the hours of 4-7:45 a.m. or 4-7:45 p.m.  It is important to note that not only did all these major earthquakes strike either at dawn or dusk, but two-thirds of them also occurred within 36 hours of the new or full moon phase; that is when the gravitational pull of the moon and sun are combined.

With this relevant information, it seems that there may be potential to predict seismic activity in the future.  Understanding conjoined lunar and solar gravitational effects may be a possible first step toward a simple seismic advisory for California.  Looking at dawn and dusk during certain new- and full-moon phases just might hold a higher probability for seismic activity on the West Coast.

Of course, this is not just significant for those living in the Los Angeles area; Bay Area residents live along the San Andreas fault as well.  San Francisco’s two great earthquake disasters occurred almost exactly 12 hours apart (within the dawn and dusk parameters):  the first at 5:18 a.m. in 1906, the second 83 years later at 5:04 p.m. in 1989.  These same hallmarks of timing can be seen from San Diego to Vancouver, British Columbia, and beyond.  The greatest earthquake in the history of North America was a magnitude-9.2 temblor; it devastated Anchorage, Alaska, in the early evening at 5:36 p.m.

While we cannot yet precisely predict an earthquake, we do have the ability to strengthen our properties to withstand the forces of nature.  In the past, building codes were less stringent compared to today’s standards; thus, it is a good idea to inspect buildings constructed prior to the 1990’s, as they were built prior to more current structural codes.  Older buildings may be dramatically unprepared to withstand the force of even low-level tremors.  Now is the time to consider strengthening your commercial property – before the “BIG ONE” occurs.

Numerous types of structures may benefit from an earthquake retrofit, including various commercial buildings, bridges, and dams.  Buildings in the Bay Area of California, and along the entire West Coast, are diverse in their design, structure, style, and age and many have specific maintenance considerations to be made before being reinforced.  If your commercial property is more than 20 years old and has not yet been through an earthquake retrofit, the best time to schedule a thorough inspection to determine necessary structural updates and maintenance is NOW!

Earthquake retrofitting is done for a variety of reasons, with the most common being to ensure the safety and security of a building’s tenants or employees, machinery and inventory.  While it’s nice to imagine that all buildings in danger zones were built right the first time, that’s simply not the reality.  To find out more about whether your commercial property in the Bay Area should be strengthened and reinforced to withstand the impact of the “BIG ONE”, call Saunders Commercial Earthquake Retrofit Bay Area today!


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(408) 267-3876

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