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.
|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||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|
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.
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