Sunday, 28 February 2010

Yes! We've had no Tsunami

....we had no Tsunami yesterday. Mrs S and I watched over our little part of British Columbian coastline until dusk yesterday and saw no obvious waves running up the channel. The alerts were cancelled last night when it became apparent that the threat of a tidal wave was less than it might have been. Tofino on the west coast only registered a tenth of the wave they were expecting, which must have been a disappointment to all the surfer dudes who live out there.

Regarding Earthquakes, there's a postulation been doing the rounds over the past century or so that Volcanic activity and Earthquakes are more prevalent during sunspot minimums. The only people really discussing this appear to be amateurs, but having noted a bit of an uptick in seismic and volcanic activity from Chaiten, Mt Redoubt and others over the past two years, I'd be tempted to take a wild guess and say we've got a few more of these large events to come. There was a 6.5 Richter scale in California back in January, and if the USGS Earthquake map is any indication, quite a few more biggish quakes have totally missed the headlines.

It's very hard to make definitive statements, but there does appear to be some form of sunspot / seismic correlation, although the lags and leads between events and changes in the respective solar and terrestrial magnetospheres make any predictive model nigh on impossible at my level of knowledge, and even a cursory analysis indicates little in the way of correlation if sunspot numbers are plotted against major seismic events. Too many variables like solar wind, cosmic ray activity, and minor variations due to other causes. All I know is that the climate models based on 'greenhouse gases' are far from complete, and the energy levels too low by several orders of magnitude to affect earth's climate in the way their proponents describe.

What I do know is that increased volcanic activity, whatever the trigger, does affect the climate on relatively short timescales. Occurrences like 'the 1816 year without a summer' which followed a series of eruptions culminating in the 1815 eruption of Mt Tambora for example.

As for purely seismic activity, the late 1960's and early 70's saw a higher than usual number of 7.0 plus Richter scale events, as did the 1940's. Yet from 1968-70 the monthly sunspot count averaged over 100, so on the face of it, no correlation with 'the big one' for whatever region. However after a little digging into USGS Earthquake survey figures I found this;

Now when you run the same figures against the monthly sunspot mean you get the result in the lower chart (My spreadsheet);

Sunspot monthly mean dropping and reported Earthquake incidence rising. Regrettably since January 2009 the USGS has moved their reporting goalposts so as not to report any seismic events under 4.5 outside of the USA. Bummer.

I know this is all very amateur and only covers the past few years, but it is intriguing. Wonder what would result if one of the big brains with all the figures at their fingertips were to have a go. Hell, I'm just a minor blogger who's a bit of a closet geek and likes to try and write science fiction. Yet, my observation goes, while 'correlation is not causation', maybe there's an element of a greater truth here. Hmm.

Sunspot data. NGDC.
7.0+ Earthquake dataUSGS Earthquake hazards program
Earthquakes 2000 - 2010 USGS Earthquake facts & Statistics

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