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Is It Possible to Predict an Earthquake?

Is It Possible to Predict an Earthquake?

Several countries around the globe, including China and Japan, currently have agencies dedicated to forecasting seismic activity.  Here in the United States, though, we seem to be bringing up the rear when it comes to researching and understanding earthquake prediction possibilities.  Even though there are some in the scientific community who continue to voice the impossibility of ever attempting to predict an earthquake, there are other scientists who are predicting that a devastating earthquake will occur on the West Coast at some point in the next 20-30 years.  The question is this, however:  is it possible to make an even closer, more specific prediction?

There is one specific dynamic that should capture everyone’s attention, including seismologists on the West Coast: conjoined solar and lunar gravitational tides. Gravitational tides are one of the key forces of the universe.  Some of the solar system’s most symbolic features, such as the fierce volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon, are shaped by these tides. These forces are powerful enough to push any of the fault lines located in California into action, particularly fault lines that are already under extreme pressure.

Today, the most recognized scientific view is that even though tidal influence is a secondary force in seismic movement, it is a minor stimulus for producing earthquakes powerful enough to cause massive damage.  The historical earthquake record in Southern California provides interesting evidence, however, that this opinion may take conjoined solar and lunar gravitational effects too lightly.

Reviewing the earthquake activity between 1933, the year of the Long Beach temblor, and 1994, the year of the Northridge earthquake, there were six quakes powerful enough to cause a significant number of casualties.  Every one of those massive earthquakes occurred within 70 miles of central Los Angeles and they all happened either at dawn or at dusk.  Every individual who was killed in one of the Los Angeles area earthquakes during those 61 years died between the hours of 4-7:45 a.m. or 4-7:45 p.m.  It is interesting to notice that all of these devastating earthquakes struck either at dawn or dusk.  In addition, two-thirds of the quakes struck within 36 hours of the new or full moon phase, when the gravitational pull of the moon and sun are joined together.

Many scientists feel that with this relevant information, it is entirely possible that there may be potential to predict seismic activity in the future.  Understanding conjoined lunar and solar gravitational effects may be the first step toward a simple seismic forecast for the Los Angeles area and for the entire state of California.  Perhaps looking at the dawn and dusk time frames during certain new and full moon phases may hold a higher probability for seismic activity on the West Coast.

The ability to potentially predict earthquakes is not just significant for residents living along fault lines in the Los Angeles area; Bay Area residents live along the San Andreas fault as well. San Francisco’s two historically devastating earthquake disasters happened almost exactly 12 hours apart (within the dawn and dusk parameters):  the first temblor occurred at 5:18 a.m. in 1906, the second occurred 83 years later at 5:04 p.m. in 1989.  These same hallmarks related to timing can be seen in data recorded for quakes from San Diego to Vancouver, British Columbia, and beyond.  In fact, the greatest earthquake in the history of North America was a magnitude-9.2 temblor; it devastated Anchorage, Alaska, in the early evening of March 27, 1964 – at 5:36 p.m.

We certainly cannot yet come close to predicting specific seismic activity, but we do have the ability to strengthen our properties to withstand the powerful movement of the earth. Historically, building codes were less stringent compared to today’s standards.  With that in mind, it is important to inspect buildings constructed prior to the 1990’s; they were built prior to today’s stronger structural codes.  Many older commercial and historic buildings may be significantly unprepared to withstand the force of even small tremors.  Before the “BIG ONE” occurs, consider strengthening your commercial property with an earthquake retrofit.

Many types of structures may benefit from an earthquake retrofit, including various commercial buildings, bridges, and dams.  The many buildings in Los Angeles, and along the entire West Coast, are distinct in their style, design, structure, and age and many have specific maintenance issues that need to be addressed before being reinforced.  If your commercial property is more than 20 years old and has not yet been through an earthquake retrofit, it is definitely time to schedule a complete evaluation to determine any necessary structural updates and maintenance.

Earthquake retrofitting is completed for many different reasons, with the most common reason being to guarantee the safety and security of a building’s tenants, employees and customers. To find out more about whether your commercial property in the Los Angeles area should be strengthened and reinforced to withstand the impact of the predicted “BIG ONE”, call Saunders Seismic Commercial Retrofit today!


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(949) 646-0034

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