I noticed an intriguing headline in Saturday’s Waikato Times: "Quake forecast a horoscope." On reading further I found it led to an article based on a prediction by Ken Ring, who claims to be able to use the Moon’s position relative to Earth to predict the weather, that there would be an earthquake somewhere in the South Island on March 20th. The article also quoted GNS Science seismologist, Laura Bland, who described this as a ‘horoscope’. (I was rather surprised – although I suppose I shouldn’t have been – to discover a number of astrology websites claiming to be able to predict earthquakes when I used the headline as a search string.)
A reasonable description. New Zealand’s not called the ‘shaky isles’ for nothing, as Geonet data show, and the Alpine Fault is seismically very active. So the odds are reasonably good that there’ll be a quake centred somewhere along the Fault, or a subsidiary fault at right-angles to it, on or around the 20th of March. After all, we have earthquakes most days – it’s just that most are too small to be noticeable. In other words, a fairly easy call to make, & so non-specific that it would be very easy to claim success, in the same way that horoscopes in the papers are so general that someone reading them is bound to find something that could apply to them. (And similar to the claim that earthquakes are most likely in the period a week either side of the new or full moon… Incidentally, scientists don’t deny that the moon’s gravity has no impact on seismological events – but they do dispute that these events can be accurately predicted.)
But – I see that Mr Ring has given a bit more detail: "It could be one for the history books." From which I would assume that he thinks this will be a big , damaging quake, because the little ones won’t gain that status. So I guess we will have to ‘watch this space’.
A commenter on the Silly Beliefs website has posed a number of well-formulated questions concerning this particular prediction. I’ve pasted them below (for those who follow the link, scroll down to comment #107). They were asked on September 29 last year.
Ken, I neither believe or disbelieve what you write and predict but I would like to make my mind up. Hence I refer to the following paragraph on your site regarding the prediction of an earthquake.
"Next year, the morning of 20 March 2011 sees the South island again in a big earthquake risk for all the same reasons. This date is the closest fly-past the moon does in all of 2011. The node arrives on the 20th at 9.44am. As that date coincides with lunar equinox this will probably be an east/west faultline event this time, and therefore should be more confined to a narrower band of latitude. The only east/west fault lines in NZ are in Marlborough and N Canterbury. All factors should come together for a moon-shot straight through the centre of the earth and targeting NZ. The time will be just before noon. It could be another for the history books."
Could you answer the following please
1. Quote "Next year, the morning of 20 March 2011 sees the South island again in a big earthquake risk for all the same reasons." (The same reasons being the moon etc as you explain in your article)
Q.1.1 Ken — risk or certainty? If it’s not a certainty — why not? If it doesn’t happen — why would that be?
2. Quote "The node arrives on the 20th at 9.44am. As that date coincides with lunar equinox this will probably be an east/west faultline event this time, and therefore should be more confined to a narrower band of latitude. The only east/west fault lines in NZ are in Marlborough and N Canterbury."
Q. 2.1 Why probably an east west failure as opposed to a North South failure or South North failure?
Q. 2.2 You say probably — what is the probability factor — 50%, 25%, 90% or what?
Q. 2.3 How do you know that the only east / west fault lines are in Marlborough and N Canterbury and why do you say that when the recent quake in Canterbury was on an unknown east west fault line that had been dormant for 16000 years. Hence there may well be others "undiscovered". You see also looking at a map of known fault lines in New Zealand I can see several more east to west lines in Southland, North Otago, McKenzie Country — some in the Waiarapa, some in Poverty Bay, Central North Island, etc.
Q. 2.4 Having established that there are more east west fault lines outside of the Marlborough and N Canterbury areas, and based on your knowledge of nodes, latitudes, longitudes, perigees, lunar equinox , moon positioning, moon shots, sun spots, which region that has east west fault lines would be more vulnerable on the 20 March — Marlborough, North Canterbury, McKenzie Country, Southland, Poverty Bay, Wairapa, or Central North Island and why?
Q. 2.5 Which of the above areas is in the narrower band of latitude you refer to and what is the longitude?
3. Quote "All factors should come together for a moon-shot straight through the centre of the earth and targeting NZ. The time will be just before noon. It could be another for the history books."
Q. 3.1 On what basis do you say it could be another for the history books? What makes you think it could be a history book event? There must be some reason why you write that.
Q. 3.2 There are four types of crustal block movements that can occur along faults in an earthquake — normal, reverse, sinistral strike slip and dextral strike slip. From a moonshot straight through the centre of the earth targeting New Zealand perspective — which type of fault do you think would be more vulnerable taking into account all the factors you have published on your site re the prediction of the 20 March 2011 event?
Q 3.3 Please provide a definition of what a "moon shot" is.
You can follow the SB thread further for some rather equivocal answers.