Friday, March 18, 2011

Thoughts on recent seismic events and solar activity

I've heard in passing about the solar flare on February 19th and March 9th this year and it struck me that the recent Haiti, Chile, New Zealand and Japan earthquakes have occurred around the same time plus a few days. It got me thinking. I read other people's similar ideas online and put the few brain cells I have to work to find out if there is anything to it. I used wikipedia and to create a very rough summary of a sample of earthquakes and their related solar events- which follow below.

Now, this may all be unsubstantiated speculation and I'm sure if you pick a random date there will be an earthquake and very likely some form of a solar event. There are small gaps but as a first pass and without sophisticated instruments- I believe there may be something linking the two phenomena. I'm sure others have already made this connection and have published their findings! As a scientist however, I need to remain objective (it's hard because this is such  an interesting observation especially for a nerd like me) and try debunk the hypothesis- 'That solar activity does have an effect on seismic activity of the Earth'.

Anyway here's the table you make your own conclusions.

Location Date Event
Earthquake Magnitude Solar Flare Solar Prominence Solar wind Magnetic Filament Coronal Mass Ejection  Geomagnetic storms Coronal holes
Tōhoku region 11/03/2011 9 300km/s Y Y Y
Japan 9/03/3011 X1.6
Christchurch 22/02/2011 6.3
New Zealand 19/02/2011 M6.6 490km/s Y Y
Kraljevo 3/11/2010 5.3
Serbia 1/11/2010 C 312km/s Y Y
Sumatra 25/10/2010 7.7
Indonesia 17/10/2010 C 608km/s Y Y Y
Canterbury 4/09/2010 7.1
New Zealand 1/09/2010 C 352km/s Y Y
Maule/Biobío Region 27/02/2010 8.8
Chile 24/02/2010 N 396km/s Y Y N
Port Au Prince 12/01/2010 7
Haiti 10/01/2010 Y 298km/s Y
Sumatra 30/09/2009 7.6
Indonesia 26/09/2009 N Y 319km/s N
Sixuan Province 12/05/2008 8
China 10/05/2008 N Y 363km/s N
San Martin region 25/09/2005 7.5
Peru  20/09/2005 C Y 406km/s Y
Sumatra 28/03/2005 8.3
Indonesia 25/03/2005 C Y 669km/s Y Y
Sumatra 26/12/2004 9.1
Indian Ocean 24-25/12/2004 C1 400km/s Y Y
Bam 26/12/2003 6.6
Iran 23/12/2003 C6 488km/s Y Y
Hokkaido 25/09/2003 8.3
Japan 23/09/2003 C1 518km/s Y Y
Kunlun 14/11/2001 7.8
Tibet 13/11/2001 C8 364km/s Y
San Salvador 13/02/2001 6.6
El Salvador 10-11/02/2001 C3 395km/s Y Y
San Miguel 13/01/2001 7.6
El Salvador 10/01/2001 M2 430km/s Y Y

UPDATE: The evidence in the above table does not implicate solar flares. It suggests they may be involved. It suggests coronal holes and subsequent geomagnetic storms in which solar wind is blasted to Earth are the culprits behind seismic events.

Of course this idea is nothing new, however I'm having trouble locating similar literature or finding it as accepted idea. I'll keep looking...
2007 Bulletin of the Russian Academy of Sciences: Physics
Volume 71, Number 4, 593-595, DOI: 10.3103/S1062873807040466
From the Proceedings of the XXIX All-Russia Conference on Cosmic Rays
Solar activity and global seismicity of the earth
S. D. Odintsov, G. S. Ivanov-Kholodnyi and K. Georgieva

Results of studying the character and possible succession of cause-effect relations (in going from a disturbance source on the Sun to a response in the lithosphere in the range of periods from several days to the 11-year solar cycle) have been presented. It has been indicated that the maximum of seismic energy, released from earthquake sources in the 11-yr cycle of sunspots, is observed during the phase of cycle decline and lags 2 yr behind the solar cycle maximum. It has been established that the maximum in the number of earthquakes directly correlates with the instant of a sudden increase in the solar wind velocity. 

This is my own (scant/incorrect) analysis and thought processes so these observations need to be confirmed, however if you see something worthwhile in following up- please contact me regarding using any this information, however inaccurate it may be. Thank you

MORE UPDATE: 20TH March 2011 Have continued to come across more literature online which uses more sophisticated methods of analysis to show the relationship between geomagnetic storms and seismic events. For more detailed information check out: M.A. Vukcevic's post on Tallblokes talkshop.

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