What’s with the media blackout on increased earthquake activty?

By March 7, 2011Life

There has been a lot of mainstream media coverage of Charlie Sheen and his Godess-enhanced clan lately (#winning).  What has not gotten nearly as much attention is something that matters more: increased earthquake activity.  In Epik’s 2011 Outlook, we said to expect increased seismic activity in 2011 (see prediction #6). The last 24 hours has seen some of the most active seismic activity in recent history.  This post provides the uninitiated with a short primer on where to look and what to look for since there is a risk to be managed — including risks for internet entrepreneurs.

Increasing Seismic Activity is a Development to Watch
As measured by earthquakes of 6.0 or higher on the Richter scale, seismic activity has been on the rise.  As you can see in the chart below, a meaningful change in the trend started in the early-1990’s.  The uptick is not attributable to improvements in measurement as people do tend to notice the 6-bangers when they happen. For calibration, the recent massive New Zealand earthquake was a 7.0 as was the Haiti quake in 2010 that has killed more than 300,000 people.

Today’s Seismic Activity was unusually active
In a normal year, we would have about 120 earthquakes of 6.0 or higher on the Richter scale.  That means about 1 ever 3 days.  So far today, we have had 2 earthquakes of 6.0 or higher.  We have had 21 that are 4.5 or higher.  On the Monday clock, which started a short while ago, we just had a 6.6 in the Solomon Islands — so that makes 3 quakes of 6.0 or higher in less than 24 hours.  Statistically, that is starting to look mighty peculiar.

y/m/d h:m:s
MAP 5.4 2011/03/06 23:45:00 -30.983 -178.691 101.7 KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND
MAP 4.9 2011/03/06 22:23:16 44.334 -129.473 10.2 OFF THE COAST OF OREGON
MAP 4.8 2011/03/06 21:35:48 44.372 -129.346 10.9 OFF THE COAST OF OREGON
MAP 2.6 2011/03/06 21:15:00 19.407 -155.284 1.3 ISLAND OF HAWAII, HAWAII
MAP 4.6 2011/03/06 20:50:33 73.061 5.998 34.8 GREENLAND SEA
MAP 2.7 2011/03/06 20:01:17 60.162 -152.481 84.7 SOUTHERN ALASKA
MAP 4.9 2011/03/06 15:48:54 52.180 142.177 10.0 SAKHALIN, RUSSIA
MAP 6.5 2011/03/06 14:32:36 -56.387 -27.019 84.2 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION
MAP 2.8 2011/03/06 14:21:28 19.412 -155.261 3.0 ISLAND OF HAWAII, HAWAII
MAP 4.5 2011/03/06 13:46:35 40.455 -125.427 2.6 OFFSHORE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
MAP 2.6 2011/03/06 13:40:26 32.412 -115.498 16.6 BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO
MAP 4.8 2011/03/06 13:35:16 52.847 160.698 44.7 OFF THE EAST COAST OF KAMCHATKA, RUSSIA
MAP 4.9 2011/03/06 13:09:34 52.882 160.605 49.9 OFF THE EAST COAST OF KAMCHATKA, RUSSIA
MAP 6.2 2011/03/06 12:31:58 -18.115 -69.391 101.3 TARAPACA, CHILE
MAP 4.7 2011/03/06 11:26:26 26.909 143.598 10.0 BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
MAP 4.7 2011/03/06 11:06:27 26.903 143.632 10.1 BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
MAP 4.3 2011/03/06 10:57:30 36.447 71.193 232.8 HINDU KUSH REGION, AFGHANISTAN
MAP 5.0 2011/03/06 10:52:52 26.897 143.610 10.1 BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
MAP 2.6 2011/03/06 10:44:19 59.472 -153.632 100.0 SOUTHERN ALASKA
MAP 4.5 2011/03/06 10:11:36 -9.389 119.210 85.9 SUMBA REGION, INDONESIA
MAP 4.2 2011/03/06 09:45:22 14.021 -91.299 80.5 GUATEMALA
MAP 2.8 2011/03/06 08:53:58 19.423 -155.262 3.4 ISLAND OF HAWAII, HAWAII
MAP 4.4 2011/03/06 08:39:52 53.742 159.112 158.2 NEAR THE EAST COAST OF KAMCHATKA, RUSSIA
MAP 4.3 2011/03/06 07:58:41 39.208 40.355 10.0 EASTERN TURKEY
MAP 4.9 2011/03/06 07:13:25 27.023 143.682 10.0 BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
MAP 4.6 2011/03/06 05:25:48 70.884 -6.278 10.0 JAN MAYEN ISLAND REGION
MAP 4.5 2011/03/06 05:21:07 -5.148 102.356 40.8 SOUTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA
MAP 3.7 2011/03/06 05:17:36 60.925 -150.014 42.9 KENAI PENINSULA, ALASKA
MAP 4.8 2011/03/06 03:43:31 -42.381 173.921 10.0 SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND
MAP 3.1 2011/03/06 03:32:32 32.814 -115.620 20.6 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
MAP 4.2 2011/03/06 03:28:18 34.801 24.960 44.8 CRETE, GREECE
MAP 2.6 2011/03/06 02:36:11 62.958 -149.387 73.5 CENTRAL ALASKA
MAP 5.1 2011/03/06 01:44:07 -23.054 170.448 35.3 SOUTHEAST OF THE LOYALTY ISLANDS
MAP 2.5 2011/03/06 01:39:00 19.360 -155.159 2.6 ISLAND OF HAWAII, HAWAII
MAP 2.6 2011/03/06 01:31:12 19.366 -155.156 2.8 ISLAND OF HAWAII, HAWAII
MAP 2.6 2011/03/06 01:23:42 19.369 -155.157 4.2 ISLAND OF HAWAII, HAWAII
MAP 2.5 2011/03/06 01:11:24 19.351 -155.150 1.7 ISLAND OF HAWAII, HAWAII
MAP 2.5 2011/03/06 01:07:32 19.368 -155.152 3.3 ISLAND OF HAWAII, HAWAII
MAP 4.7 2011/03/06 00:56:00 26.953 143.702 10.7 BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
MAP 2.5 2011/03/06 00:52:58 19.364 -155.145 3.6 ISLAND OF HAWAII, HAWAII
MAP 4.4 2011/03/06 00:18:25 23.933 94.001 69.8 MYANMAR

You can track earthquake activity here.
The Earth’s Magnetosphere is your Friend
The other development to watch is the state of the earth’s Magnetosphere, as this correlates to seismic activity.  Earth’s Magnetosphere is the protective layer that insulates the Earth from damaging solar wind. This is particularly a concern when the sun kicks out what are called Coronal Mass Ejections as has recently been happening, including a so-called X-class flare last month.

Sunspots are a leading indicator
Spots on the sun are a leading indicator. The next so-called Solar Maximum is scheduled to peak in 2012 so we should expect to see more solar activity through the balance of 2011 and into 2012 which likely also means more tectonic volatility as magnetic forces of the sun influence the earth’s iron core.

For calibration, the current sunspot number is 114.  The number should keep rising through the current solar cycle — cycle 24 in case you are keeping track.  A good place to look for sunspot account is SpaceWeather.com. I could imagine seeing as many as 250+ during the current cycle.


Online Real Estate should do just fine
Physical real estate would tend to suffer materially from increased seismic activity.  It would also be a huge strain on already strained federal, state and local budgets. A lot of experts are paying close attention to the New Madrid faultline which was responsible for a massive seismic event in 1811 and has been relatively inactive until recently.  Since most physical real estate is not insured against seismic damage, the economic impact of a large seismic event is significant.  Investments in commercial property could be completely wiped out, particularly if they are leveraged.  By contrast, online real estate would likely suffer temporary outages. Worst case, one should be able to restore data from a backup and operate from a new data center.   This is yet another reason why I am way bullish about online real estate than offline real estate.


Be Prepared – back up your data remotely
Solar wind and X-class solar flares are important to watch in general, but if you are in the business of developing software it is even more important. Why?   Geomagnetic storms can interfere with electrical systems as was demonstrated in 1989 — this was long before we all became heavily dependent on mobile phones and the Internet for communication. A repeat of the 1989 storm, or perhaps more severe, would be something to watch. Fortunately, it takes 3-4 days for Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from the sun to get to Earth which means that internet entrepreneurs have ample time to take back up data if there is a CME coming our way.


This public service message was sponsored by EmergencyFood.com, powered by Epik .  Use the Discount code “Epik” and get a special discount.


Join the discussion 17 Comments

  • Stan says:

    Shock horror the American media keeping things from the mainstream public. Let’s face it this is all about people’s ego’s be it Charlie Sheens spinning out of control again or the collective ego and people’s fear of their own mortality …everyone is going to die it’s just a matter of when and how…. so best to just to live in the moment and appreciate life and not buy into the fear that seems to be the only way people with no real power can control others.

    ** RWM ** And turn off the TV 😉

  • owen frager says:

    Nature is burping. Blame it on fracking, oil shale extraction and deep water drilling as we tamper with the planet (or Gods plan depending on what you believe, shout out to Matt Damon) in ways never tested before. A modern day Adam and Eve temptation test. We have picked the low hanging fruit and are now in a desperate race to keep the economy fueled. In race I would bet on God.


    ** RWM ** And I would bet on God too.

  • lennard says:

    We are heading towards 2012 afterall, so it is to be expected 😉

    ** RWM ** I won’t speculate on the timetable, but I do watch the data, and especially the trend. Based on recent history, it is not clear if mainstream news will be first to report meaningful changes in the trend! Unfortunately, the alternative media is full of garbage which means the reader has to use a lot more judgment than in the past!

  • Gazzip says:

    “Statistically, that is starting to look mighty peculiar.”

    Indeed, something is a changing and it will do so regardless of us.

    If there is a huge solar flare we will be back to living in the 1800’s again, you can forget everything Internet if that happens.

    ..no power no internet…simples 😉

    Did I mention stock up on food & water lol 🙂

    ** RWM * I think the Internet infrastructure is more resilient than doomers might suggest. The guys who would tell you otherwise want to sell you the world’s biggest Faraday cage! 😉 And let’s face it, a lot of folks might want to go back to pre-Internet times and pre-globalization times. I am pretty certain that the Internet is with us for the long haul.

    • Gazzip says:

      The Internet infrastructure is only as strong as its weakest link eg: a supply of electricity. You don’t have to be a doomer to realise that one 😉

      Alot of this info is coming from Nasa, top scientists and other brainy people and not from conspiracy theorists.

      17 Sep 2010


      “The meeting will be addressed by Avi Schnurr, a former US government adviser who said that “super-flares” occur about once every hundred years, meaning the next is overdue.

      The electrical grid, computers, telephones, transportation, water supply, food production are all vulnerable to a major flare, said Mr Schnurr, who also works for the Israel Missile Defence Association, a lobby group.

      “Our electrical infrastructures are so ubiquitous that an EMP or geomagnetic storm could shatter nations all over the earth, and we cannot wait for disaster to spur us to action,” he said ”

      ……”David Williams, acting head of the UK Space Agency, told a Commons committee that any negative impacts on technology, particularly satellites, would have “severe problems both short-term and long-term” for Britain.” …


      They don’t sound like they’re too ready for it over on this side of the pond 😉

      food…cough…water…cough 🙂 …did i mention …

  • Gazzip says:

    ps- Looks like that $200 a barrel scenerio is getting closer


    ** RWM ** $200 oil is something I would plan for, yes. Hedge against the rise, or just plan to use a lot less of it. Internet and Rail are net beneficiaries of $200 oil, in my view. Commercial real estate and physical retail … not so much.

  • Louise says:

    The death toll remains high for earthquakes, because cities located on fault lines keep getting more populous! See: http://www.watchtower.org/e/20051001/article_02.htm

    Enjoy! 🙂

  • T. Rice says:

    I wonder, in regards to earthquakes, if any part of the trend – especially from the earlier years – oculd be affected by the increasing worldwide deployment and sensitivity of detecting equipment?

    That is, perhaps earthquakes were more prevalent earlier, but not as detectable, etc…

    I know nothing of that field, but I have a tendancy to look at most graphs and wonder about hidden variables that might not be taken into account.

    ** RWM ** Well, you don’t need equipment to detect a 6+. That’s why I used that as a trendable metric. By the way, I was in Kobe right after the Great Hanshin quake — landed there just 2 days after the quake while the aftershocks were still rocking the city. Surreal. I can’t even imagine having that AND a mega tsunami AND a nuclear reactor going hot.

    • Annie S says:

      I agree with your point, and to expand it further I believe the ever-expending world population is also a constributing factor. As I type this, reports are coming in of an 8.8 off the coast of Japan, near Tokyo. This region has been populated by people for probably thousands of years, and has a long recorded history of earthquakes. In contrast, the area I live in (Christchurch New Zealand) was hit by a shallow and devistating 6.3 quake (last month) which was centered only a few miles away from the city central business district. Because of the lack of historical data on the region (it having been uninhabited until the 1800’s) there could have been many quakes in the past, but no-one around to record them.

      ** RWM ** Watching the news on CNN and following reports on blogs. TRAGIC. The tsunami damage is beyond description. Media coverage is now ample. However, folks could have seen this coming based on solar flare activity in the last week. That’s the truly sad part.

  • T. Rice says:

    Timely topic, Rob. I’m just hoping this is not a trend, devastating if it is.

    ** RWM ** Watch the sun and magnetosphere for clues. It can take 2-3 days for the plasma of an X-flare to make it from the sun to the earth’s magnetoshere. With 2 X-flares in the past week, after 4 years without one, life on earth is a bit like playing Russian roulette with the sun.

  • Louise says:

    Let me summarize, to make sure I have it right:

    Sun spots are an indicator of Coronal Mass Ejections. We have about 114 sunspots, and those are set to peak in 2012 at about double. Coronal Mass Ejections damage the earth’s Magnetosphere, which is Earth’s protective layer that insulates Earth from damaging solar winds. Holes in the Magnetosphere allow magnetic forces of the sun to influence Earth’s iron core, causing tectonic volatility.

    Solar winds are increasing after a period of low activity, according to the SpaceWeather.com – note the March 9th X-flare which damages the Earth’s Magnetosphere!

    After last night, I had to go back and study this post, which I merely scanned the day it was posted. Now the whole thing make sense!

    Good call, Rob! You have your finger on the pulse of important matters, and I linked to your post in an email to all my family and loved ones. Best wishes! 🙂

    ** RWM ** There are many theories on what causes quakes. The one that makes the most sense to me is the relationship between the earth’s iron core and magnetic forces from both our solar system and quite possibly beyond. When the magnetosphere is getting pounded, as happened again earlier today, it is cause for concern.

    • Gazzip says:

      There’s supposed to be holes found in the magnetic field

      Here’s a bit more about the solar storms


      Massive solar flare in the years 2012/2013 could throw us back 100 years

  • Louise says:

    Look at it look at it look at it look at it!

    Photos from the LA Times:

    ** RWM ** May you live in interesting times. indeed.

  • Gazzip says:

    This is Horrendous, poor souls did’nt have a chance

  • Louise says:

    @ Gazzip, thanx for the video – great! 🙂 That’s why we need Mobile DTV to our handheld devices, since it operates on a regular TV signal, and can broadcast during emergencies. Thank you. 🙂

  • David says:

    Rob, WOW look what happen….you are right!

  • Louise says:

    Concerning the pic tweeted by International Space Station astronaut Reid Wiseman on August 19th, an explanation from NASA is

    This is a kind of space weather event where the magnetic fields surrounding Earth compress and release. This oscillation is much like a spring moving back and forth, but unlike a spring, moving magnetic fields cause an unstable environment, setting charged particles moving and initiating electric currents . . . The geomagnetic storm passed within a day but while it was taking place, the solar particles and magnetic fields resulted in the release of particles already trapped near Earth, causing oxygen and nitrogen molecules to release photons of light . . . The result: an aurora, and a special sight for the astronauts on board the space station.

    Being that there are recorded 3 earthquakes over 6.0 in the last couple of days:
    6.4 Chile on Augst 23rd
    6.0 Napa yesterday
    6.9 Peru later, yesterday
    I wonder if the M-class flare is related to any of that activity?

    Outside of the 3 6.0 and over, there were over 80 earthquakes in the last 7 days, 4.5 and over: /http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/map/

    Should we be concerned if we get another X-flare? According to Daily Sun on SpaceWeather.com (thanx for link, Rob!), there is one spot in view of the earth, which
    Sunspot AR2149 has a ‘beta-gamma-delta’ magnetic field that harbors energy for X-class solar flares.

    Taking into account the high concentration of big earthquakes in a short time, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to hear about a serious one, or the big one hit LA! I’m watching, and praying it doesn’t happen.

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