Astronomer Predicts Major Earthquake for Japan

• Ivan Seeking
In summary, a Japanese researcher is predicting a major destructive earthquake this week in Tokyo. The prediction was based on a study of radio waves, but the energy was about 99.5% less than expected. The Richter value was in error by 21%. The odds of a 5.5 quake on any day is no worse than 1:3500.

Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
This will either debunk itself in a week, or we move this prediction to another forum.

TOKYO (AP) _ A Japanese researcher is causing a stir in Tokyo with a prediction based on his study of radio waves that a major destructive earthquake is highly likely to hit the city this week

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/quake_prediction_030915.html [Broken]

Edit: A summary of this thread:

A quake with a magnitude >= 7.0 was predicted for Tokyo for Tuesday or Wednesday. In fact, Tokyo experienced a magnitude 5.5 quake on Saturday.

The energy was about 99.5% less than expected.

The Richter value was in error by 21%

I would think that the odds of a 5.5 quake on any day is no worse than 1:3500. So, if we were off by three days, we might allow for odds like 1:1000 of getting this close by chance. Of course this is just for perspective and not meant as hard numbers. The real number may well be more like 1:100.

I didn’t find a good number for the frequency of Japanese quakes, but I did find a couple of interesting, related sites.

http://neic.usgs.gov/neis/current/japan.html

http://www.owlnet.rice.edu/~geol108/eq4/site_directory.htm#Earthquakes [Broken]

It is not clear, but the key measure apparently [according to this news report] is measured in reference to the Richter Scale value and not in terms of energy. It seems that an arugment might be made that with no better than 1:100 chance of random success, this quake was predicted within 21% of the actual magnitude. It is also possible that the result [if we use energy as the indicator] was in fact only 0.5% of the expected value.

Edit #2: Then, a week later...
TOKYO, Sept. 26 — Three powerful earthquakes, one of them of potentially historic magnitude [estimated as being an 8.0], struck Hokkaido in northern Japan early Friday morning, causing major structural damage, NBC News reported. The quakes injured more than 240 people and generated a 7-foot-high tsunami off the coast of Hokkaido. Tsunami advisories were issued for much of the Pacific region, including Japan, Russia and the Philippines.
http://www.msnbc.com/news/971921.asp?pne=msntv

This event appears to yield odds of random success - of predicting any quake >=7.0, anywhere in Japan within one week - of around 1:600.

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Predicting a major earthquake for
Japan is about as risky as
flipping a coin: "Well, I wasn't
major' part but the was
an earthquake!"

Originally posted by zoobyshoe
Predicting a major earthquake for
Japan is about as risky as
flipping a coin: "Well, I wasn't
major' part but the was
an earthquake!"

I agree. Still, if this guy had hit the day and magnitude with a high degree of accuracy - say within 12 hours and within 30% magnitude - then he might as least bare watching, but otherwise it really wouldn't mean much. I heard a report of a 5.5 in Tokyo today. I have not seen this reported elsewhere yet.

Here is another recent event to help put this into perspective:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/2938248.stm

It would take more than even one very accurate hit to really get peoples attention.

Tsunami,

Originally posted by zoobyshoe
Tsunami,

Yes, I know. I can never get this @#%^&!@#$#%^%$$^^&&^$$%$ thing to work right. I've done it twice and deleted my post twice. It's making me BANANAS!

So, would a 5.5 magnitude earthquake AND a typhoon hitting at the same time be fairly equivalent of a 7 magnitude earthquake?

Originally posted by zoobyshoe
Predicting a major earthquake for
Japan is about as risky as
flipping a coin: "Well, I wasn't
`major' part but the was
an earthquake!"
He predicted 7 or greater. The
quake was 5.5. I guess he can quote me, if he wants.

Originally posted by zoobyshoe
He predicted 7 or greater. The
quake was 5.5. I guess he can quote me, if he wants.

We posted at exactly the same time. You missed my "quetion"!

Originally posted by zoobyshoe
He predicted 7 or greater. The
quake was 5.5.

Since we did in fact see a quake withing 2 days and 25% of the prediction, my left eyebrow gets raised exactly 0.125". I'm going to take a little closer look.

Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
Since we did in fact see a quake withing 2 days and 25% of the prediction, my left eyebrow gets raised exactly 0.125". I'm going to take a little closer look.
Mine raised APPROXIMATELY 0.25" (I'm well practiced in eyebrow raising) - I didn't take an EXACT measurement like Ivan obviously did. Ivan - you're a little STRANGE! But then, I do like strange...

Personally, I'm going to give it a 7 since it was REALLY a double-whammy. Let's give that scientist a round of applause and add a Flying Fickle Finger of Fate award (anyone remember those?)!

Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
"...my left eyebrow gets raised exactly 0.125".
Would this be millimeters or
thousandths?

Originally posted by Tsunami
Ivan - you're a little STRANGE!

Keep it up and I'll turn your fish into a guppy.

Originally posted by zoobyshoe
Would this be millimeters or
thousandths?

that was 0.125" as in inches. Obviously I'm feeling more generous than you.

Also, a close look reveals that I don't have eyebrows.

Primitives...hah!

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Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
Keep it up and I'll turn your fish into a guppy.
Yeah. I'm shakin' in my fins.

Originally posted by Tsunami
Yeah. I'm shakin' in my fins.

Not bad Tsunami! I rate that as a seven head funny. No wonder you're up for chief comedian.

Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
that was 0.125" as in inches. Obviously I'm feeling more generous than you. [:D
I am actually impressed that he
got the time and location right.
I was expecting there would be the
usual 4.0 somewhere in
Japan and that he'd try to take
credit for having forseen it. It
could be his system works accur-
ately, except when there's
a typhoon on the way.

Originally posted by zoobyshoe
I am actually impressed that he
got the time and location right.
I was expecting there would be the
usual 4.0 somewhere in
Japan and that he'd try to take
credit for having forseen it. It
could be his system works accur-
ately, except when there's
a typhoon on the way.
I am nowhere NEAR being a physicist (didn't even LIKE it in school - sorry guys, but there are LOTS of us in the world! ) but, would it be possible that the presence of the typhoon kept the magnitude down to a 5.5 instead of the predicted 7?

Whoops. I made a giant mistake in the error. I treated the magnitude of the quake as a simple linear scale. As I recall from my geophysics class, in reality, the difference in the actual energy of a 5.5 and a 7.0 is about 6 or 7 times the energy. So really our margin of error is probably about 600-700%.

Originally posted by Tsunami
...would it be possible that the presence of the typhoon kept the magnitude down to a 5.5 instead of the predicted 7?
alot of water around. There is
some remote chance this shift in
weight would affect the shifting
of the tectonic plates.

Likewise the typhoon would change
the barometric pressure consid-
erably which, because it would
be affecting such a huge area,
might also have some effect on
the plates.

Thats as far as I can stretch to
come up with possible ways it
could have modified the earth-
quake.

Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
Whoops. I made a giant mistake in the error. I treated the magnitude of the quake as a simple linear scale. As I recall from my geophysics class, in reality, the difference in the actual energy of a 5.5 and a 7.0 is about 6 or 7 times the energy. So really our margin of error is probably about 600-700%.

Still... a 5.5 is nothing to sneeze at - especially in the middle of a TYPHOON! (gezundheidt )

Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
Whoops. I made a giant mistake in the error. I treated the magnitude of the quake as a simple linear scale.
The Richter Magnitude Scale

Read this, Richter Boy, and let
us know what it says.

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Originally posted by zoobyshoe
alot of water around. There is
some remote chance this shift in
weight would affect the shifting
of the tectonic plates.

Likewise the typhoon would change
the barometric pressure consid-
erably which, because it would
be affecting such a huge area,
might also have some effect on
the plates.

Thats as far as I can stretch to
come up with possible ways it
could have modified the earth-
quake.

Really I had thought about this when Tsunami mentioned the idea in jest [or maybe not in jest?]. Lake Oroville [man made] in Northern California was filled in about 1968 I think. This lake is 900 feet deep in some places and it covers a vast number of square miles in the many tributaries that constitute the feather river system; which is what feeds a significant % of So Cal with its water incidentally. Not long after the lake was filled, Oroville had about 5.5 earthquake - which, you might imagine, made everyone feel real good downstream of one of the [if not THE] worlds largest Earth fill dams. Since then, some geologists have calculated that the added water weight could have been a factor in the earthquake.

Originally posted by zoobyshoe
The Richter Magnitude Scale

Read this, Richter Boy, and let
us know what it says.

LOL. I was using 3 instead of 31. I had better break out the books.

31 times more energy than the amount associated with the preceding whole number value

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Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
Since then, some geologists have calculated that the added water weight could have been a factor in the earthquake.
And I came to the same conclusion
off the top of my head without
any geological training. Where do
I write to get my check?

Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
LOL. I was using 3 instead of 31. I had better break out the books.
Two things going on here: The
amplitude increases tenfold for
each whole number increase, but
the amount of energy increases
by about 31 times the previous
whole number. Two possible per-
centages.

Originally posted by zoobyshoe
Where do I write to get my check?
Any where you want! Just make it out TO ME!

Originally posted by zoobyshoe
Where do I write to get my check?

USGS. Tell them that Ivan said it's OK.

Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
USGS. Tell them that Ivan said it's OK.
USGS - AKA Tsunami!

Originally posted by zoobyshoe
Two things going on here: The
amplitude increases tenfold for
each whole number increase, but
the amount of energy increases
by about 31 times the previous
whole number. Two possible per-
centages.

Yes as soon as I saw this - actually as soon as I started getting the Zoobitude - I knew what I had done. I never could come to terms with the energies involved. I let my reserve cloud my memory.

This disparity between the scale used and the energy involved results from the non-linear response in the transfer of energy in the ground. There are also several different energy waves involved that spread the energy out in different ways. AS I RECALL, we have S(shear) waves, P (pressure) waves, and I think T waves? Anyway, it boils down to three degrees of freedom. So, not all of the energy is actually felt. There are of course many other variables that govern the transfer of energy.

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Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
...actually as soon as I started getting the Zoobitude

"Disposition:Generally retiring,though occasionally
aggressive. Credited with
tearing apart bothersome
dogs."

Originally posted by Tsunami
Any where you want! Just make it out TO ME!
quetion with what turns out to
be pretty much what a trained
geologist would say and YOU want
to get paid?? YOU want to get
paid?? YOU owe ME!

Minimun geological consultation
fee is 10,000.00.

Going back however:

Forecasting quakes is generally considered to be impossible with current technology, and Kushida's method of using anomalies in the VHF range of radio waves to predict the timing and intensity of tremors has not gained many believers in the scientific community.

So his predictive process could still be within 25% of the real value. I assume by intensity they mean Richter value and not energy. To me, this would be an unexpected relationship at best.

Nothing happens in a vaccum, and
the search for an earthquake
"prodrome" (term borrowed from
migraine terminology) is, no
doubt, a logical and scientific
undertaking.

I don't know enough about any of
the specific sciences he is call-
ing to his aid in making his predictions, to form an opinion
as to whether he's way off track
or not, but as far as I can see
from my two inch elevation, there
is nothing absurd looking in his
method.

It could well be the coming typh-
oon threw off his measurements
somehow, such that it inflated
his prediction of the magnitude.
Or it could be that he needs to
make adjustments on how he calculates magnitude.

I think he was close enough that
he shouldn't be discouraged. There
is the ominous possibility this
was just a forehock. A couple more
days to tell...

If possible, I will start visiting his website. Eventually it is just a matter of hits and misses.