"Very wet rain events" from tropical cyclones linked to earthquakes

From the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science , an interesting groundbreaking paper, ahem…but, wait for it, we’ll soon hear “Climate disruption causes more hurricanes and those cause more earthquakes” from the Rommists and McKibbenites.

Research study shows link between earthquakes and tropical cyclones

New study may help scientists identify regions at high risk for earthquakes

New study presented at AGU by University of Miami professor Shimon Wdowinski may help scientists identify regions at high risk for earthquakes. Wdowinski shows that earthquakes, including the recent 2010 temblors in Haiti and Taiwan, may be triggered by tropical cyclones and the wet rains that accompany them.

SAN FRANCISCO – Dec. 8, 2011 – A groundbreaking study led by University of Miami (UM) scientist Shimon Wdowinski shows that earthquakes, including the recent 2010 temblors in Haiti and Taiwan, may be triggered by tropical cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons). Wdowinski will discuss his findings during a presentation at the 2011 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco.

“Very wet rain events are the trigger,” said Wdowinski, associate research professor of marine geology and geophysics at the UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. “The heavy rain induces thousands of landslides and severe erosion, which removes ground material from the Earth’s surface, releasing the stress load and encouraging movement along faults.”

Wdowinski and a colleague from Florida International University analyzed data from quakes magnitude-6 and above in Taiwan and Haiti and found a strong temporal relationship between the two natural hazards, where large earthquakes occurred within four years after a very wet tropical cyclone season.

During the last 50 years three very wet tropical cyclone events – Typhoons Morakot, Herb and Flossie – were followed within four years by major earthquakes in Taiwan’s mountainous regions. The 2009 Morakot typhoon was followed by a M-6.2 in 2009 and M-6.4 in 2010. The 1996 Typhoon Herb was followed by M-6.2 in 1998 and M-7.6 in 1999 and the 1969 Typhoon Flossie was followed by a M-6.2 in 1972.

The 2010 M-7 earthquake in Haiti occurred in the mountainous region one-and-a-half years after two hurricanes and two tropical storms drenched the island nation within 25 days.

The researchers suggest that rain-induced landslides and excess rain carries eroded material downstream. As a result the surface load above the fault is lessened.

“The reduced load unclamp the faults, which can promote an earthquake,” said Wdowinski.

Fractures in Earth’s bedrock from the movement of tectonic plates, known as faults, build up stress as they attempt to slide past each other, periodically releasing the stress in the form of an earthquake.

According to the scientists, this earthquake-triggering mechanism is only viable on inclined faults, where the rupture by these faults has a significant vertical movement.

Wdowinski also shows a trend in the tropical cyclone-earthquake pattern exists in M-5 and above earthquakes. The researchers plan to analyze patterns in other seismically active mountainous regions – such as the Philippines and Japan – that are subjected to tropical cyclones activity.

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December 8, 2011 9:08 pm

O/T Anthony, did you see the report of a huge storm in Scotland, and how it knocked out a wind turbine. It blew up and caught on fire.
REPLY: Yes, always check the front page of WUWT – Anthony

Phil's Dad
December 8, 2011 9:11 pm

Maybe its just me, but it seems round here that most of the rain is “very wet rain”

December 8, 2011 9:14 pm

Sorry, I just don’t buy it. I don’t believe the “surface load” of even a couple of hundred feet of soil has any relative impact so several miles of rock. What I might find more believable is the percolation of water into fault acting as a lubricant. But that only works in areas that are normally arid.
The Haiti quake occurred at a depth of 8.1 miles. I don’t see how the movement of a few meters of dirt on the surface is going to be enough to unload miles of rock. That is just nonsense. To believe this would be to believe that you can prevent the San Andreas from slipping by stapling it with a piece of highway guadrail or something.
How much did that “surface load” lessen compared to 8.1 miles of solid rock? The answer is, comparatively speaking, just about zero.

December 8, 2011 9:15 pm


December 8, 2011 9:19 pm

Yea right, and when the load is lifted from coastal regions by movement of tides, a vast weight is lifted off the ocean floor, which diminishes the seismic connectivity between earths different layered substructures, which allows the seismic plates to release pent up pressure by earthquake. Then if you look down into any fissure cause by the sliding of plates you will be lucky enough to see Alice in Wonderland.

December 8, 2011 9:20 pm

The theory seems laughable. Even the shallower earthquakes generally take place kilometres underground. Given the immensity of the forces involved, even removing whole mountainsides is a trivial extra factor.
And looking for statistical with four-years of a strong cyclone season: with a wide enough window, comparing two sets of events which are both fairly common it would be surprising is one couldn’t find some data to fit whatever theory one was proposing.

December 8, 2011 9:25 pm

The majority of subduction zones being in the tropics wouldn’t be a biasing factor would it?
I don’t have the statistical horsepower to say other wise…. but at least they proposed a mechanism to support their view.

Ted Dooley
December 8, 2011 9:27 pm

Hmmmm….No one reported the early 60’s heavy tropical cyclone period in Anchorage…….

Al Gored
December 8, 2011 9:34 pm

Funny. “A groundbreaking study” about earthquakes.
At first read this seems a real stretch. Really real stretch. If anything I might GUESS that the same factor(s) that may be contributing to these big storms (the solar and lunar influences that Piers Corbyn looks at) are influencing both them and this earthquake activity. And he is now delving into earthquake prediction on that basis.
Just watched this, and learned about his earthquake work, yesterday:
“MUST SEE YOUTUBE: Piers Corbyn Review of November and updated December forecast, with comments on the IPCC Durban meeting.”
I have no idea how close he is getting to any new ‘truths’ about all this. But I do know, after also watching Mann’s TED video, that I would trust humble Corbyn to look for them while I wouldn’t trust that slippery charlatan Mann with looking for my dog.
In any case, to try to use the impeccable logic of the AGW Team, it obviously couldn’t be the rain because it is sunny in that photo.

December 8, 2011 9:39 pm

Complete and utter nonsense.

December 8, 2011 9:41 pm

Groundbreaking?? No pun intended?? They’ve got to be kidding. The mass and energy budgets are so imbalanced as to be ludicrous. Lake Mead was shown to have caused tiny earthquakes by nature of its tiny isostatic signature and the seepage lubrication of weaknesses, but a 5.0-plus temblor is going to happen, typhoon or hurricane be damned.
That this even got covered by a press release is an example of just how uncritical both the media and peer review have become. This is madness.

December 8, 2011 9:45 pm

Rain causes plate shifts…… someone lock him up…… knowing the morons I’ve discussed climate with…. this lunatic is dangerous. Anyone believing this crap needs locked up. This is the same garbage that made people believe using fuel would hot the world up. These people will never stop with there insanity and misanthropy.

December 8, 2011 9:47 pm


December 8, 2011 9:51 pm

Rather than the restribution of weight causing earthquakes, I thought that whenever rain increased the amoung of subterranean water, it could “grease” the fault lines so that they would more easily slip past one another causing an earthquake, albeit of less magnitude than if the stress had continued to build up more.

Mark Johnson
December 8, 2011 9:52 pm

There are sure one hell of a lot of tropical cyclones in Christchurch. So that’s what caused the quakes there.
Wait till the NZ media pick this one up.

December 8, 2011 9:53 pm

I have not found a peer-reviewed paper that presents this research. While tropical cyclones are important heavy rainmakers, the precipitation distribution associated with them is not necessarily a function of intensity. Indeed, the worst rainmakers and flooding storms are just that, weak, meandering tropical storm strength systems that lack organization and move very slowly. A compact well-organized major hurricane or typhoon may track over a tropical island much faster.
Haiti and Taiwan are tropical locations with copious annual rainfall totals without the effects of tropical cyclones. I would suspect that in many years without a cyclone impact, huge rainfall totals are still found. Therefore, unless the authors show a relationship between overall heavy-rain events BESIDES tropical cyclones, then the correlation is just that — something that looks connected in theory, but is likely just a coincidence.
If anyone has a peer-reviewed sample of this presentation, that would go a long way to answering some overall concerns.

Mike the convict
December 8, 2011 9:55 pm

Within 4 years an earthquake occured? Really?
And why wasn’t there an earthquake withing 3 years or 2 weeks, or 1 month?
Scientists leaping to delusions again methinks.

December 8, 2011 9:57 pm

Volcanoes though? They can cool the climate and attract lightening. But earthquakes, they are trying to justify their grant money. Watalaff!

December 8, 2011 10:06 pm

Oh, sure. And the average recurrence of wetter than average storm seasons is also every four years or so. Right? I bet we could find out a lot more in the Myanmar Academy of Science Letters, except those papers are all state secrets. Maybe Al Gore has access.

December 8, 2011 10:10 pm

I have not seen their data or read the paper. We know how foolish most press releases are. It does sound like a case of correlation being equated to causation. I think they are perhaps, “drinking a bit to much of their own wine,” here.

December 8, 2011 10:14 pm

I enjoy reading speculative science but I think this goes a bit too far. The mechanism is implausible and the statistical correlation too sparse.
Try again.

Dave H.
December 8, 2011 10:26 pm

Maybe trying to create a cover for HAARP? (sarc)

December 8, 2011 10:27 pm

noaaprogrammer says:
December 8, 2011 at 9:51 pm
I agree. Way back in the 60’s when I studied Geology at Uni, it was a well documented relationship between water “lubrication” of faults – indeed I seem to recollect some work being done in California to inject high-pressure water to help faults unclamp and release energy in smaller doses rather than allow it to build up for “the big one”. Don’t know what became o fthat
“Groundbreaking” – I think not

December 8, 2011 10:28 pm

I do not know if the statistics are right, maybe there are enough storms and earthquakes to find a relation in any cases. But the effects and modification of stress in the earth crust are real and measurable. For instance it has been demonstrated in the Himalayas that the background microseismicity is increasing during the summer monsoon and the cause being the additonnal water load in ground and rivers. Remember also that the Wenquan 2008 earthquake in China may have been triggered by the filling of a dam in the epicentral area (it is still seriously discussed), its maybe only a “trigger” in the sense that the event would have happenned anyway but the change in waterload may have put locally the stress over a tipping point.

December 8, 2011 10:29 pm

Looks like Mannian theorm to me.

December 8, 2011 10:36 pm

Well, the good news is that we now know how to stop earth quakes. Whenever it rains, we just get thousands of people to jump up an down to keep the tectonic plates in place. We need a public awareness campaign about this right away. I’ll volunteer my time for this worthy cause, and by “volunteer,” of course, I mean “accept ludicrous amounts of money.”
If we save just one life, it will be worth it.

Philip Bradley
December 8, 2011 10:37 pm

The mass of the rain will far exceed the mass of rocks and soil moved by the rain.
If they found a relationship within a few days I’d think they might be on to something, but 4 years.
I’d need a mechanism and data supporting the existence of the mechanism to be persuade they may have something. As for a mechanism perhaps dams filling.

December 8, 2011 10:39 pm

Why not the other way around? Can’t we say that earthquakes cause tropical storms? How many times has a tropical storm come withing four years of an earthquake?

Greg Cavanagh
December 8, 2011 10:43 pm

Good point markus;
The norther parts of Australia see 30 foot tides (10m). How much load does this add and subtract twice daily?
Its not the very wet rain events that scare me, its the realy dry rain events that give me goose bumps.

Don K
December 8, 2011 10:45 pm

Works the other way round as well. The August 23, 2011 earthquake in Virginia clearly attracted Hurricane Irene which was then over Hispanola. Irene got to Virginia on the 27th.
Needless to say, this theory seems pretty implausible.

December 8, 2011 10:47 pm

Based on their logic, I am fearful of major earthquakes around all open-cast mine operations … are there any reported instances of ground faults around these types of mines?

John F. Hultquist
December 8, 2011 10:49 pm

And what was the amount of rainfall that caused the Japan quake some 70 miles off-shore?
Or the quake along the North American coast that spawned the Orphan Tsunami of 1700:
Shimon Wdowinski, you have a problem!

4 eyes
December 8, 2011 10:51 pm

Very small sample size to draw conclusions from. I reckon that given the size of earth that there are going to be a few places where it rains a lot and is also seismically active, just like there’s going to be a few places where it doesn’t rain much but is seimically active, and there’s going to be a few places where it rains heaps but there’s never an earthquake.

Geoff Sherrington
December 8, 2011 11:03 pm

If you drill a deep drill hole into solid rock, at about 4 km depth +/- 3 km, there is a zone where reasonable preconceptions about pressure do not hold because of mineral transitions involving dehydration. An observable effect, first reported from the Kola superdeep in Russia, is a zone of microfracturing. This zone does not have to be associated with a fault. Indeed, it might be a near-universal feature, as it was logged in all deep holes I was available to examine at the time. The cause would be downward movement of rocks, through loading from top sedimentation, tectonic movement or whatever method increased loading pressure on it. Such microfracturing (I postulated) could be energetic enough to report as an earthquake; and the mobility change it gives to the local rocks could help create blocks bounded by faults. I have loosely proposed this cause of earthquakes with colleagues, but have not published it. I now lack the means to investigate it, retired too long. There are many more deep drill holes now, than when I formulated the idea in the late 1970s, as part of work in conjunction with John Elliston and Prof S Warren Carey of plate tectonics fame, on the possibilty of colloidal chemistry being far more widespread than was hitherto thought.
The hypothesis is nice, because it explains the high frequency of shallow earthquakes and earthquakes in general on a geological time scale, in areas of plausibly high stability like Archaean cratons. It helps to explain faults because the bulk density of the affected rocks is changed and that extra volume has to move. The edges of where it moves would be called a fault. It helps to explain increased earthquake frequency in the “Ring of Fire” because the frequency of vertical movement of rock masses, and hence microfracturing, is greater than elsewhere.
The Kola exercise implicated groundwaters able to penetrate many km below the surface, so I am not surprised if there is an association between abnormally heavy precipitation and earthquakes.

December 8, 2011 11:05 pm

An 8.0 on the Rictus Scale!

December 8, 2011 11:08 pm

Way back in the 60′s when I studied Geology at Uni, it was a well documented relationship between water “lubrication” of faults – indeed I seem to recollect some work being done in California to inject high-pressure water to help faults unclamp and release energy in smaller doses rather than allow it to build up for “the big one”.

If you look at the EQ map of California you will notice there has never been a large EQ in the Hollister area. There is a reason for that. Apparently the rocks there have a high talc (baby powder) content (I’m not pulling your leg). The talc acts as a natural lubricant allowing the fault to slip where the pulverizing of the rocks releases the talc. This allows the rocks to slip at much lower stress rates and so rather than large quakes separated by long periods of quiet, in this area we see a constant drumbeat of very small ones.
The place to look out for is the Ft. Tejon area. It has been “vewy vewy” quiet. Too quiet. That generally means there is stress building and the fault is “locked”. We are seeing a lot of slip along the lower Elsinore, we see that transfer over to the Coyote Creek fault, then we see that transfer over to the San Andreas at about Banning. It’s been just about dead quiet from San Bernardino to Parkfield. A few “snap crackle pop” quakes recently between the Cajon pass and the Tejon pass but that’s about it.
I don’t think I’m going to be buying property in Antelope Valley anytime soon.

December 8, 2011 11:10 pm

“Very wet” rain events as opposed to what sort of other rain events?

December 8, 2011 11:35 pm

if it were sunspots or alignment of planets some folks would not even need aphysical mechanism

Jean Parisot
December 8, 2011 11:54 pm

Has anyone forwarded this to the IPCC, looks like their kind of science

December 9, 2011 12:04 am

What a load of TRIPE…!

December 9, 2011 12:06 am

But 4 years after precipitation, Geoff Sherrington? What would be the properties of H2O at a temperature 3-4 klms underground? What is the porous quality of bedrock and just how much of water, under what type of pressure would be necessary to cause sufficient increases in their their bulk density?
Micro-fracturing force is a concept worthy in understanding seismic activity, however, it is unlikely one off events is enough of a cause. More like a continual feeding of a catalyst until tipping point.

December 9, 2011 12:09 am

There may be something in it but try this as a alternative:
OR Quakes and storms have common cause – driven by solar activity through sun-earth magnetic links. This is amply demonstrated by the success of our trial quake forecasts and forecasting of simultaneous storm events in the same time windows but in DIFFERENT PLACES. As an example see this pdf of events 5-6Nov http://www.weatheraction.com/docs/WANews11No31.pdf
This period of solar driven effects on earth was predicted by our Solar Lunar Action Technique and classified as
5-6 Nov Extra Top red enhanced category of ‘Red Warning’ – the strongest possible,
and specifically predicted in the same time window (with a day either side possible):
Extra solar activity – observed AR1339 (the biggest sunspot region for 6years, earth facing Nov 6th)
Tornado events in SW England – observed in Worcestershire
A very deep low crossing N USA – observed
Significant earthquakes somewhere – observed eg Oklahoma.
There were also deadly floods in North Italy and other quake/volcano events
The rain in Worcester and in Chicago did not lubricate the land of Oklahoma!
These Red warning or rather RTQ (Red Warning +Tornado-thunder + Quake-volcano (trial) high risk periods are published monthly as WeatherAction extreme events Rest Of World via http://bit.ly/utWrvj and are the ‘Mothers’ of all extreme weather events (many of which are predicted in USA, UK+Ireland and Europe) and major (ie extra to background) earthquakes – we believe (notwithstanding missed RTQ periods). A lot of these things have been monitored on Climate Realists.
Thanks, Piers Corbyn (@Piers_Corbyn and http://www.weatheraction.com)

Beth Cooper
December 9, 2011 12:24 am

An Irresistible conjunction, mud slides and earthquakes…Hmmm.

December 9, 2011 12:25 am

Just to throw something else into the mix.
Piers Corbyn is adapting his solar lunar weather prediction technique to predict earth quakes, so maybe they’ve stumbled onto a link between weather and quakes, but with their CO2 blinkers on have assumed that the weather is the cause, rather than both being effects of solar activity.

Alan Bates
December 9, 2011 12:46 am

“Ground-breaking” is a quite dreadful pun but it is also incorrect.
Earthquakes and volcanoes have been on warmlist from John Brignell for a while:
Total number of things reputed to be caused by global warming = 862.

Leon Brozyna
December 9, 2011 12:49 am

I’m a big fan of thinking outside the box, of overturning dogma, but this is so far outside the box that they’ve landed in Fantasyland. How often is Haiti not being hit by landslide-inducing tropical downpours, whether from hurricanes, tropical storms, or tropical depressions? It doesn’t even have to be a landfall event … the storm’s rain shield is all it takes.

wayne Job
December 9, 2011 1:06 am

This mob are drawing a very long bow here, Earthquakes could more easily be found to be tied to lunar cycles, in less of a time frame than four years. The last time I rode my motor cycle in very dry rain, as opposed to very wet rain hurt like hell. Some drops were the size of golf balls and about as hard.
Do these people doing these studies and releasing them have no shame.

December 9, 2011 1:19 am

“… The researchers suggest that rain-induced landslides and excess rain carries eroded material downstream. As a result the surface load above the fault is lessened….”
Suggest? Didn’t they count the landslides and calculated the weight relieved from the ground, therefore?
And, er, yes – we had very dry rain during november over here. It was so dry, that it added up to about 5 mm of rain per square meter, only.

December 9, 2011 1:24 am

John F. Hultquist says:
December 8, 2011 at 10:49 pm
Or the quake along the North American coast that spawned the Orphan Tsunami of 1700:
Shimon Wdowinski, you have a problem!

In visiting that link about Cascadia, one notes that in the preface they speak of adaptation to a Big One. Not of prevention, not of ‘oh noes’, not of endless streaming foolishness from an organization like the IPCC, but pure and simple adaptation. Let’s face it, a Big One WILL happen, so get on with life. In stark contrast to the conjecture, the politics, and the brouhaha over something that nobody can say for sure is happening, let alone define its cause. Hmmm. We really have gone bonkers.

Allan M
December 9, 2011 1:32 am

Phil’s Dad says:
December 8, 2011 at 9:11 pm
Maybe its just me, but it seems round here that most of the rain is “very wet rain”
I’m working on dehydrated water. It would be so much lighter to carry around. When I’ve cracked the problem, I’ll send the paper to dhmo.org

December 9, 2011 1:33 am

How can a landslide relieve weight from the ground? It’s just earth that was at one altitude now located at a somewhat lower altitude.

UK Sceptic
December 9, 2011 1:55 am

Miami scientists one step closer to proving global warming caused Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Al Gore said to feel “vindicated”…

December 9, 2011 2:00 am

This guy was on the board of the company where I worked until I retired. He seems to know some things about earthquakes. I would listen, with interest. On the other hand, he could be completely wrong and earthquakes could be the movements of turtles that hold up the land. 😉

Al Gored
December 9, 2011 2:02 am

Guess they haven’t considered how many earthquakes they’ll cause with this… and what the hell is this anyways? Man made climate change? Or total BS?
“BEIJING – China will begin four regional programs to artificially increase precipitation across the country before 2015, according to the newly released 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) for meteorological development.
Together with the existing program in Jilin province, to influence weather in northeastern parts of China, the five regional weather control programs will increase artificial precipitation volume by 10 percent, according to the plan.
Each year, an average of 3 trillion cubic meters of water passes over China in clouds, and only 20 percent of it falls to the ground, according to the China Meteorological Administration (CMA).
Currently, 50 billion cubic meters of rain and snow are gained annually in artificial precipitation, but the volume could reach 280 billion cubic meters if more effective weather intervention measures are taken, according to the CMA.
“Because clouds are boundless, weather control is boundless. The five regional weather control programs will coordinate the ground resources, such as the cloud seeding rockets and planes, across provinces to increase potential rain or snow,” said Zheng Jiangping, deputy director of the CMA’s department of emergency response, disaster mitigation and public services emergency management…
As extreme weather events such as drought and flooding become more common, protecting the nation’s main wheat producing areas grows in urgency – thus the first regional program chose the northeastern parts of the country, including Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang provinces in Northeast China and the eastern part of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region in North China.
“The program in Jilin was finished late this year and is working well. The successful operation will accelerate the construction of the other four,” Zheng said…
A national weather intervention command center will also be established before 2015, according to the plan… [it will] focus on scientific research and development of weather control techniques, providing technological support to the regional weather stations and coordinating the country’s cross-region weather intervention.”

December 9, 2011 2:19 am

How many tropical storms have hit Haiti over the centuries WITHOUT causing a quake. Why didn’t they cause a quake then? Why did this one cause a quake … four years later?
I am not accusing them of lying but it certainly appears as if they are attempting to manufacture facts. Lies are easy to counter. Made up facts are more difficult.

December 9, 2011 2:45 am

When applied to shallow fault zones under the sea floor, or to deep fault zones several kilometers below the water table (total about 90% of all known earthquake fault zones), this argument simply does not hold water.

December 9, 2011 3:03 am

Someone already mentioned Christchurch in New Zealand. I would also add a few others including Fukushima Japan, Newcastle Australia, and the one in Indonesia. Of these particular deadly quakes, two regions are in the tropical cyclone zone – Fukushima and Indonesia. On the other hand Newcastle is not, and neither is Christchurch.
New Zealand is on the ring of fire. There have been several deadly earthquakes. In Christchurch it was the shallow quake with an epicentre in the harbour of Lyttleton that was extremely deadly. Other deadly quakes in New Zealand have been on the north island, at Wellington and Hawkes Bay where land actually appeared after the quake!!
Then there are those series of tremors and quakes that are felt in Melbourne from time to time. Having experienced one of those tremors, and vividly remembering what happened after all these years, I cannot say with certainty that there was any rain event prior but I can say with certainty that there were no cyclones!!!!!! Melbourne, or at least the Mornington Peninsula is on a fault line which explains why there are so many of these tremors. The earthquake in Newcastle had some similarity to that of Christchurch because it was shallow and involved sand.

December 9, 2011 3:14 am

Maybe you could separate dihydrogeniummonoxid from oxygeniumdihydrid to get rid of the wettness and the weight?

December 9, 2011 4:15 am

I can hear the geophysicists laughing from here.
Water could also be argued to lubricate smaller earthquake zones to release strain so that a larger one won’t occur, so they wont go anywhere with this kind of earthquake socialism. But the effect of rain/other water is so small overall as to be negligible.
There is no relationship with rainfall and earthquake risk, just as there isnt any relationship with people who read the bible and the earthquake of Portugal 1755, Voltaire knew this. Perhaps 18th century atheists are like todays skeptics.

December 9, 2011 4:17 am

Sad to see, again, the worst part of climatology — storytelling. Is this a plausible chain of events perhaps yes. But is there any physical data (as someone above suggested, calculating the weight of dirt removal etc.).
Just because climatologists can come up with a plausible mechanism, it does not make it so.
Another example — almost no warming in the past 10 years must be the Chinese with their aerosols. FAIL

December 9, 2011 4:49 am

First step on the road to blaming AGW for earthquakes, is anyone really that mad ?
Well who knows, but given every man and his dog has jumped on the AGW bandwagon to further their cause or to obtain funding for research , you can’t rule it out.

Jim Barker
December 9, 2011 5:09 am

Butterfly involvement is just as likely:-)

December 9, 2011 5:34 am

Wdowinski and a colleague from Florida International University analyzed data from quakes magnitude-6 and above in Taiwan and Haiti and found a strong temporal relationship between the two natural hazards, where large earthquakes occurred within four years after a very wet tropical cyclone season.

This sounds impressive until you look at a list of earthquakes occurring in Taiwan. You will notice the rarity of gaps larger than 4 years between consecutive magnitude M6.0 or greater earthquakes in the last 50 years.
Assuming that the Wiki list is accurate, if one were to select a random point in time from that 50 year period and ask what is the probability that an earthquake of that order of magnitude will occur within the next 4 year period, the answer is about 92%. If you independently choose any three points in time (e.g. after the particular monsoons), the probability that each of them will subsequently be followed by earthquakes with a four year time period is about 77.9%.
This hardly constitutes a “strong temporal relationship” underany definition of those words. I hope that they better evidence than that to link those “two natural hazards”.

December 9, 2011 5:34 am

I remember years ago (1980’s) hearing about a correlation between heavy winter storms and earthquakes in southern Alaska. It’s not a new idea. The way I’d look at it, an increase in pore water pressure due to extreme rain could trigger an earthquake if the rocks were very close to failure anyway. The water wouldn’t actually cause the earthquake, which was going to happen sooner or later anyway, but it might trigger it today instead of next month or next year.

December 9, 2011 5:44 am

I guess that’s why Kaua’i is shaking itself apart with earthquakes .. all that massive rain

December 9, 2011 6:03 am

Typical hippie-reasoning: treating possibility completely separately from the attached probability.
‘Science’ is no longer about understanding: it has become a surrogate for reading entrails.

December 9, 2011 6:05 am

Heheh. It is incredible what “scientific” conclusions can be extracted from absurdities…
“The reduced load unclamp the faults, which can promote an earthquake,”
I suppose there aren’t earthquakes in deep sea then. All that “wet water” is a big big weight.
And on cities too, all that cars, people – heavier due to unhealthy food- , buildings!
it is a big weight that can prevent the unclamping.
So if the Chinese jump all at same time what happens a clamping or an unclamping?

Pamela Gray
December 9, 2011 6:42 am

No matter if this is media spin or it is actually in the paper, it’s a great Balderdash card.

December 9, 2011 6:43 am

From the summary it looks like they accept a very loose definition of temporal proximity. To link effect to an event 4 years previous? Not sure I’m buying it.

Pamela Gray
December 9, 2011 6:57 am

There has to be some fixes for this in the works that mirror mirrors in outerspace. Like super large staple guns mounted on a super duper earth removers. Bet there is a shovel ready grant just Waitin, Wishin, Wantin to be granted by Obama.
You can’t fix stupid. You have to vote it out.

Ken Harvey
December 9, 2011 7:13 am

Should be alright in my location – the rain being, I think, only ordinarily wet. However, about a thousand billion tons of salt water invade my local Indian Ocean bay twice every day and that stuff is very wet indeed. Should I stay home tonight?

December 9, 2011 7:17 am

Four years? Seriously? Wow have they ever discovered a smoking gun. Or maybe just some way to get their share of the AGW gravy train.

ferd berple
December 9, 2011 7:39 am

If climate change is causing heavy rains which cause earthquakes, then climate change is helping prevent damage from earthquakes by relieving the pressure early before it builds up into a major quake.
What would you rather have, a lot of very small quakes or one big one? The energy is the same – the only difference is the time period over which it is spread.
So, in this case CO2 and AGW is a benefit – as we are seeing from the numbers on cyclones.

Mike McMillan
December 9, 2011 8:07 am

JuergenK says: M
Maybe you could separate dihydrogeniummonoxid from oxygeniumdihydrid to get rid of the wettness and the weight?

Or possibly a temporal separation. That would be very useful for something like our space program, lightening the weight of cargo we send up from Cape Canaveral in the space shuttle. It could be re-hydrated later, once the shuttle is up in orbit.
Also, the shuttle is fueled by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. When they combine in the rocket engines, they make water, or at that temperature, steam. Hard to imagine the space shuttle as a steam engine, but I digress. Perhaps they could capture that steam and recycle it once they get in space.

Ken S
December 9, 2011 8:13 am

“ferd berple says:
December 9, 2011 at 7:39 am
If climate change is causing heavy rains which cause earthquakes, then climate change is helping prevent damage from earthquakes by relieving the pressure early before it builds up into a major quake.
What would you rather have, a lot of very small quakes or one big one? The energy is the same – the only difference is the time period over which it is spread.
So, in this case CO2 and AGW is a benefit – as we are seeing from the numbers on cyclones.”
You beat me to it!
Could not have said it any better myself!

December 9, 2011 8:14 am

What they are saying is that erosion impacts the timing of earthquakes in certain circumstances.
Changes in erosion rates are primarily caused by local land use changes, so their comments are not relevant to global climate change but rather to local agricultural practices.
If their theory is sound, it seem likely that erosion-induced earthquakes could be a good thing. If erosion results in an early release of earthquake energy, it could prevent a larger earthquake from happening later.

December 9, 2011 8:16 am

That’s why I do not flush anymore… /sarc

G. Karst
December 9, 2011 8:54 am

“The heavy rain induces thousands of landslides and severe erosion, which removes ground material from the Earth’s surface, releasing the stress load and encouraging movement along faults.”

If this is true, isn’t it a good thing to de-stress fault lines before catastrophic levels are reached and a killer earthquake results?? But then, what do I know? GK

Sean Peake
December 9, 2011 9:09 am

It is clear to me that the only way to prevent earthquakes for those who live in a tropical cyclone danger zone is to purchase a sheep’s bladder. This new learning is truly amazing

Allan M
December 9, 2011 10:04 am

“In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself by two hundred and forty-two miles. Therefore… in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period the Lower Mississippi River was upward of one million three hundred thousand miles long… seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long… There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such trifling investment of fact.”
Mark Twain

Allan M
December 9, 2011 10:07 am

JuergenK says:
December 9, 2011 at 3:14 am
Maybe you could separate dihydrogeniummonoxid from oxygeniumdihydrid to get rid of the wettness and the weight?

Only if I can get a very big research grant.

Max Hugoson
December 9, 2011 10:33 am

1. BS
2. Nonsense
3. Idiocy
4. Stupidty
5. Lack of BASIC PHYSICS understanding (I.e., weight of water from “Cyclone” = FRACTION of weight of first meter of soil/rock…)
6. Correlation is NOT causation!
7. “Cancer Clusters” for Grade Schools…statistical fluke, meaningless as this garbage is!
8. Accept it unquestioningly, as it supports the “mime”.
Max 🙂

Paul Hull
December 9, 2011 10:43 am

For a quick cross check of the validity of this study take a look at Jan Null’s excellent rainfall chart for San Francisco, http://ggweather.com/sf/sf_seasonal_rainfall.jpg, starting in 1849. San Francisco’s most famous earthquake in 1906 was preceded in eight out of the ten previous years with below average rainfall. By the ‘logic’ of this study the biggest quakes should have happened in the 1862-1865 window or the 1998-2001 window, following extremely wet winters. Only two quakes would meet the 6.0 qualification standard for the whole state for the 1862 window and zero quakes for the 1998 window. However Coalinga, in the center of the state, suffered through 6.5 and 5.7 quakes two months apart in 1983. Interestingly these quakes fall in the four year window following one of the worst droughts in California history. Oh yes…and Coalinga averages a whopping 7.8 inches of rain per year. (See http://designbuildprogram.com/uploads/B10_-_Urban_Water_Management.pdf for rainfall summary.)

Gail Combs
December 9, 2011 12:11 pm

crosspatch says:
December 8, 2011 at 9:14 pm
Sorry, I just don’t buy it. I don’t believe the “surface load” of even a couple of hundred feet of soil has any relative impact so several miles of rock. What I might find more believable is the percolation of water into fault acting as a lubricant. But that only works in areas that are normally arid…..
They did not bother to do a literature search. The connection seems to be between the sun/ planetary alignments and sunspots to both weather and earthquakes and not a direct connection.
Relationship between global seismicity and solar activities by Gui-Qing Zhang

The relations between sunspot numbers and earthquakes (M≧6), solar 10.7 cm radio flux and earthquakes, solar proton events and earthquakes have been analyzed in this paper. It has been found that: (1) Earthquakes occur frequently around the minimum years of solar activity. Generally, the earthquake activities are relatively less during the peak value years of solar activity, some say, around the period when magnetic polarity in the solar polar regions is reversed. (2) the earthquake frequency in the minimum period of solar activity is closely related to the maximum annual means of sunspot numbers, the maximum annual means of solar 10.7 cm radio flux and solar proton events of a whole solar cycle, and the relation between earthquake and solar proton events is closer than others. (3) As judged by above interrelationship, the period from 1995 to 1997 will be the years while earthquake activities are frequent. In the paper, the simple physical discussion has been carried out.

J. Ind. Geophys. Union ( October 2005 )
Vol.9, No.4, pp.263-276
Planetary Configuration: Implications for EarthquakePrediction and Occurrence in Southern Peninsular India

Though there have been several attempts at earthquake prediction from different perspectives, thisattempt aims at establishing planetary configurations as a definitive means of earthquake prediction.When two or more planets, Sun and Moon are aligned more or less in line (0
or 180
) with theEarth, then the Earth would be caught in the middle of a huge gravity struggle between the Sunand the planets. The gravitational stresses would change the speed of the Earth in its orbit andwhen the speed of rotation of the earth changes the tectonic plate motion also gets affected. Thetotal angular momentum of planets involved in earthquake triggering mechanism can be calculatedand the total force acting at the epicenter in a direction opposite to that of the earth’s rotation canalso be determined. At the epicenter, the speed of rotation of the earth can be calculated with thehelp of available software. So the planetary forces in the opposite direction to the rotation of earthact as a triggering mechanism for the accumulated stress at faults and plate boundaries to be releasedabruptly. This does not, however, mean that earthquakes will occur at all edges of the plateboundaries. Two of the parameters contributing to the triggering of an earthquake at a place are a)distance of epicenter from the planet position and b) direction of force acting at the possibleepicenter. From the analysis of “significant earthquakes” over the past 100 years from all over theworld and from Southern Peninsular India, the relationship between (i) latitude, longitude, andmagnitude of the tremor and (ii) distance from the planet and direction of forces acting at anypoint can be inferred. Such inferences already made for different localities in other parts of worldhave unfolded an accuracy of more than 75% with regard to earthquake prediction.

Louis Hooffstetter
December 9, 2011 12:13 pm

“The heavy rain induces thousands of landslides and severe erosion, which removes ground material from the Earth’s surface, releasing the stress load and encouraging movement along faults.”
Let’s examine this hypothesis in light of the facts:
Landslides and erosion cannot and do not “remove ground material from the Earth’s surface”. Landslide material is deposited immediately adjacent to the slide, and eroded sediments are re-deposited on nearby deltas. With the exception of minor mineral dissolution, virtually no material is lost. Additionally, the material is almost always deposited nearby on the same tectonic plate. Landslides and erosion gradually transfer mass from mountains to the coast.
The islands devastated by these earthquakes are products of the earthquakes themselves. The cited earthquakes occur along plate boundaries in subduction zones or mega strike-slip faults. The Haiti earthquake was 8 km (5 miles) deep, the Taiwan earthquake was 12 km (7 miles) deep, and the Japan earthquake was 30 km (18.6 miles) deep. These earthquakes were produced by compressional forces generated even deeper (in the upper mantle) at depths of more than 70 km (10 miles). The process of tectonic plates grinding past one another created the islands of Haiti, Taiwan and Japan.
In addition to being miles below the surface, the foci (the point of crustal rupture) for most of these earthquakes is often well away from these islands (and the areas of erosion and redeposition). It is unlikely that the gradual redistribution of relatively small piles of dirt that accumulate on the edges of tectonic plates grinding past one another could trigger the plates themselves to move.
For earthquakes that occur along compressional plate boundaries, the proposed mechanism is: “landslides and erosion from heavy rains move enough material to release enough stress on the tectonic plates to cause them to move”. This is not even comparable to the tail wagging the dog. It’s not even comparable to the hair on the butt of the flea on the tail of the elephant wagging the elephant. Rain falling on land pushed up by tectonic forces in the Earth’s upper mantle can no more produce earthquakes miles below the surface than gnat farts can kill blue whales.

December 9, 2011 12:36 pm

as another geologist and geoengineer – I call it BS.
as someone has mentioned above, there is an issue of scale to be considered! Traditionally, from what I recall of my student days, earthquakes tended to cause land and mudslides, not the other way round!
was this published just to scrape the barrel and ‘help’ Durban?

Adam Nottage
December 9, 2011 1:00 pm

100% Pure BS (TM). Heavy rains always cause tectonic movement of underwater oceanic faults, no? Who let these loons out of the padded cell?

old engineer
December 9, 2011 1:05 pm

From their website:
“As the world’s largest gathering of Earth and space scientists comes to a close, one thing is clear – AGU’s Fall Meeting gets bigger and better every year. With more than 20,000 attendees, 12,000 poster presentations, 6,000 oral presentations, 250 exhibitors, and many workshops, town halls, and social and networking events, there has been something for everyone’.
Dates: 12/5 to 12/9 (today is last day)
Wow! 12,000 poster presentations, 6,000 oral presentations! Maybe someone who is an AGU member can tells us if the oral presentations are the result of a peer-reviewed written paper, or just “oral only.” A quick look at the program indicates that there is lots more fodder for discussion than just this one paper.
The press release for the presentation above doesn’t say it was a peer-reviewed paper. I too am skeptical. I’m not sure about Taiwan, but I’ll bet that Haiti is hit with very heavy rain events at least every 4 years, so it should be possible to correlate any recurring event to some heavy rain event within the last four years.
Of course all these questions lead to the inevitable “ More research is needed” -i.e. send more money.

December 9, 2011 1:31 pm

Denver experienced a number of minor earthquakes in the early 1960’s. The cause was finally determined to be water being injected into the rocks from the Rocky Flats Plutonium processing center near Boulder. The water, waste from the processing plant, was injected several thousand feet down through deep wells, under very high pressure. While the mechanism suggested in the article is possible, I think plate tectonics, shear zones, and deep stress are far more involved. This study reminds me far too much of the link between CO2 and global temperatures – the relation between correlation and causation are equally weak.

December 9, 2011 1:47 pm

I’m surprised at you skeptics, questioning this soon-to-be settled science!
Don’t you remember how we stopped global warming back in 2006 ??!!

December 9, 2011 1:50 pm

If this work got through “peer review” then it puts the final nail in the coffin of the peer review process.
The idiots should have spent sometime in area when earthquakes occur and gone out and talk to the locals instead of playing with computers and embarassing themselves.

Gary Pearse
December 9, 2011 2:08 pm

Pass this on to Steve McIntyre for some real statistics. Having heavy rains effect earthquakes 4 or 5 years later? The spatial sampling is suspect here. Did the big earthquakes in recent years in Peru, Iran, Chile follow major heavy rain events? Are we blaming the recent disasterous Japan earthquake on heavy rain events? Are all the earthquakes that didn’t seem to have a deluge associated with them removed from the list? Are we giving priority to the occurrence of rain events over earthquake events (to get rid of earthquakes away from rain events)? The moon gives a pretty good tug twice a day- is the erosion a bigger event?

Ulric Lyons
December 9, 2011 3:13 pm

@Gail Combs says:
December 9, 2011 at 12:11 pm
“Gui-Qing Zhang: and the relation between earthquake and solar proton events is closer than others.”
High density rather than high energy proton bursts, I would agree with that. And very often there is a coronal hole directly Earth facing.

December 9, 2011 4:29 pm

And rain is caused by global warming, which is caused by humans, so humans are the cause for earthquaqes. Right. Look, I see an invisinble pink unicorn flying…
Numerology, the best religion in the world. Given enough patience and facts, all sorts of matching can be done. I guess one could find a correlation between some behaviour of ants and earthquaqes, too.

December 9, 2011 9:37 pm

Someone never took a geology class. Hispaniola and Taiwan are islands last time I checked. When big storms approach the ocean swells. Hmmm billion to some power of tonnes of storm surge water (read MORE pressure) are dwarfed by a few landslides. I see. Who were the peer reviewers on this?

December 10, 2011 2:53 am

Despite what those who are nay-saying think there is actually evidence that tropical storms have an effect upon earthquakes. At the start of the hurricane season there is usually a rash of mag 5 earthquakes on the Reykjanes ridge and which they do happen from time to time the incidence is higher and more grouped when a large depression approaches.
A small change in atmospheric pressure can cause a difference of millions of tons of air over an area. This is something I have also noticed in Yellowstone National Park as well. While I don’t think landslides have anything to do with it air pressure definitely does. I am still studying this and I won’t be publishing a paper as I am not a scientist, just an interested amateur, but it is my believe tat they have come across what I am seeing but attributed it to the wrong reasons.

December 10, 2011 4:27 am

When Mt. St. Helens was active, it seemed that many of the minor eruptions occurred just after a local Puget Sound high tide–perhaps do to maximum magma pressure on the plugged vents.

December 10, 2011 9:49 am

Everybody seems to have missed the most obvious correlation, no women’s studies programs in either Haiti or Taiwan.

December 10, 2011 2:41 pm

I think this study will not hold up under scrutiny.

December 10, 2011 6:14 pm

PuterMan says:
December 10, 2011 at 2:53 am
“”A small change in atmospheric pressure can cause a difference of millions of tons of air over an area. “”
Peter, I live in Sydney, Australia. After reading your hypothesis I took scales out into my front yard. I just could not find any of that millions of tons of air. Could you please point me in the direction of a instrument that weighs air.

December 11, 2011 8:35 pm

Let’s see… The Ring of Fire has earthquakes. Typhoons hit land masses on the Ring of Fire. It rains on land masses on the Ring of Fire. Summation: I predict it will rain within 3 years of an earthquake on the Ring of Fire. Can I get a grant to study this further?
Let’s go down the “Rabbit Hole” of water seepage into the fault system. Two things come to mind:
1. Water isn’t a lubricant as much as it is a conductor. Maybe the electro-magnetic properties within the fault change.
2. Water intrusion deep down into a fault causes swelling of the materials, putting more pressure on the fault faces. Deep earthquakes are in their own special sub-group.(see “plate tectonics”)

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