It seems obvious, doesn’t it? Every time there’s a big earthquake one place, there seems to be another big one shortly in a another place. And, this tends to happen most often on continents that border the Pacific Ocean. They have to be related, right?
PACIFIC RING OF FIRE
Scientists have given that geologically active area a name–they call it the “Pacific Ring of Fire.” With all the earthquakes going on along there–especially those that have occurred in clusters–it’s not surprising that people are asking if there is a direct relationship/cause between the quakes.
However, scientists, who study plate tectonics, have determined that while adjacent plates certainly affect one-another, the non-adjacent plates are independent from one-another. So, one earthquake doesn’t trigger another.
But then why the apparently obvious clustering of geological activity?
I see lots of evidence that everyone is looking at the “trees” rather than “the whole forest.”
Just like other things that happen in our earthly eco-system, the movement of the plates is now understood to be most likely interrelated with other parts of the earth–specifically, internal events in the central fluid area of the earth–not just on the earth’s crust. It’s also possible that the gravitational distortion of the earth by the moon may have a long-term effect too.
Based on fossil finds across multiple continents, it’s well-documented that the earth’s land masses were previously one single continent, which then broke up into the continents we know now. If you look at a map of the world’s continents, they very clearly form “puzzle pieces” that surely would fit together well. The name given to this “super continent” is Pangaea.
What are the chances that only erosion would have made such precise interlocking patterns? Not likely across all the various land masses. On visual inspection alone, it’s a good bet that continental drift theory is valid. Yet, until fairly recently, continental drift was a highly controversial theory, and because of that, the mechanisms for it weren’t as well studied or accepted.
What isn’t as commonly discussed is that this drifting process has apparently happened multiple times over earth’s history. The land masses have broken apart…reformed…broken apart… over and over again across the millennia. And, there is no indication that this process has ended–it would seem that continental drift is ongoing.
So, it seems logical to me (based on the science) that while the plates may be independent, they are all connected to a much larger system of movement. The forces that cause continental drift may be affecting the Pacific Ring of Fire, such that the events are, indeed, interrelated–and possibly predictable.
POTENTIAL FOR EARTHQUAKE PREDICTION
Major progress has been made for predicting volcanoes and some well-understood earthquake regions. I am thinking that the movement of the continents should be studied from a more whole-system perspective in order to see if something like an atmospheric-type model may specifically apply, or other models that are already known.
The earth’s weather is highly complex–with both land and water contributing to the variables going on in the sky. Because we can “see” what is going on in the atmosphere, we know that although local weather has its own triggers, it is surely tied to the elaborate global system. As complex as it is, the science of weather prediction has some highly refined models that work very well, considering the volatility of the atmosphere.
Why not be open-minded and look at the plates as a “system” and see if there really is a global relationship between the plate movements?
Given the earth’s outer core is a fluid, then it would make sense that things could shift and settle across wide areas.
The forces and variables that move plates may have recognizable patterns (possibly based on moon, sun, or planet gravity, physical tidal movement, thermal effects, the earth’s spin or precession, or other astronomical influences). By tracking even minute changes in land movement, it may correlate on some level (low- and high-pressure systems, flow dynamics, etc.) to allow for a model like we have for our atmosphere.
Scientists explain how the subduction zone in the Pacific makes the Pacific Ring of Fire clearly an active area–even without taking into account a planet-wide continental drift. Nevertheless, it is curious to us non-geologists that there is such a strong reluctance by scientists to associate the activity with any common trigger. It hasn’t escaped layman notice that when something happens at one end of the rim, the other tends to have a “complementary” event. Not only does it surely seem related, but when I think about continental drift, it would be most logical.
A history of drifting continents leads me to hypothesize that some force(s) may be acting on that area as a whole–if not the entire planet. Is there a chance that we could be in a “normal” periodic era of greater continental movement? This would, of course, then mean not only more earthquakes, but more volcanoes, floods, and other geological activity.
We continue to have major movements. But they are only small events in a process that has been ongoing. The flip of the earth’s magnetic field has been associated with the 2012 doomsday predictions because that is another “regular” planetary occurrence. Plate movement could also relate to a shift in the earth’s magnetic field, since the fluid outer core is presumed to be responsible for our magnetic field. And, based on history, it is about time for that magnetic shift to take place. :p
Of course, the Ring of Fire activity may just be some “gentle” shifting of the earth, as we drift away on our “landberg.”
If anyone knows of published research papers specific to this, please post about it.
Here is a great site that shows a scientist’s representation of the geological history of the earth’s continents in pictures, text, and video:
Visit the Paleo Map Project (scotese.com)