# Tides, Earthquakes, and Volcanoes

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach [Graphs updated to include error bars]

Inspired by the paper by the charmingly-named Maya Tolstoy discussed here on WUWT, I decided to see if tidal forces affect the timing of earthquakes and volcanoes. Dr. Tolstoy’s hypothesis is that tidal forces affect the timing of the subterranean eruptions … but she has only nine “events” (either eruptions or lava flows) to test her theory. On that thread I said I thought her hypothesis was wrong, but I hadn’t looked at the data.

I figured that IF, and it’s a big if, tidal forces are affecting volcanoes, they’d also affect earthquakes. So I decided to start by seeing if there is a relationship between the tidal forces and earthquakes by looking at as many earthquakes as I could find.

For the calculation of the tidal forces, I started by going to the marvelous JPL Horizons ephemeris. I set the variables as follows for the Sun. For the Moon I just changed the “Target Body”.

Figure 1. Settings for the JPL Horizons ephemeris to obtain the instantaneous distances in the X, Y, and Z directions of the sun/moon as seen from the center of the earth.

With the X, Y, and Z variables, I calculated the individual tidal forces from the sun and moon (see “TIDAL MATH” below), and added them as vectors to give the total tidal force. I calculated the tidal force on a “per kilogram” basis. Here is a sample of the results showing recent tidal forces:

Figure 2. Daily combined sun-moon tidal forces, 2010-2014.

Some comments on Figure 2. First, on a per-kilogram basis the forces are small. One grain of sand exerts a force of about 40-50 micronewtons downwards under earth’s gravity. I weigh about 70 kg, so the tidal forces make my weight vary at the equator (the Earth’s equator, not mine) by about 3 grains of sand … however, the total tidal forces are large because the earth has a very large mass.

Next, note that as you’d expect, the peaks in Figure 2 are not aligned with the calendar year. Instead they shift slowly through the calendar year over about an eight-year cycle. This means that we should not expect to see any annual variation in earthquakes by month. And this is the case for this dataset, monthly earthquake counts only vary by ±4% (not shown). In addition, note the rapidity of the changes. These cycle every lunar month, which is about twenty-eight days.

Having calculated the tidal forces, I got a database of all large (>5) earthquakes since 1900 from the US Geological Service. To examine the distribution of the data, I took a histogram of the tidal forces on the actual dates of the earthquakes, and I compared it to the full database of daily tidal forces during the same period. Figure 3 shows the results.

Figure 3. Distribution of tidal forces during earthquakes 1900-2007 (gold) compared to distribution of all daily tidal forces during the same period (red diagonal hatched).

As you can see, the answer is clearly NO. The histogram of the tidal force at the times of the earthquakes (gold) shows the same double-peaked distribution shown by the full tidal dataset (red hatched). There is no overall relationship between earthquakes and tidal forces.

Next, I wanted to examine volcanic eruptions. So I went to the Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program website and downloaded their eruption database. Using all confirmed eruptions with known dates back to 1800, I did the same thing with the eruptions that I did with the earthquakes. Figure 4 shows the results of that analysis:

Figure 4. Distribution of tidal forces during eruptions 1800-2013 (blue) compared to distribution of all daily tidal forces during the same period (red diagonal hatched). Errors adjusted to account for number of subsamples.

Once again, there is little difference between the two datasets. Yes, there is an exaggeration of the local peak of the tidal forces in the range 0.8 to 0.9 micronewtons (bottom scale), but given 95% confidence interval, that kind of variation is not unusual. Overall, volcanoes seem unaffected by tidal forces.

Now … why should this be the case, that the quakes and eruptions are NOT affected by the tidal forces? I mean, we know that the tidal forces cause tides in the ocean and in the atmosphere. And most importantly for this question, they also cause tides in the solid earth. These tides are on the order of about half a metre (a foot and a half) at the equator. So it seems logical that they would affect earthquakes and eruptions. My speculations about the reason they don’t seem to affect quakes and eruptions are as follows:

1. The tidal forces are always there, and are always rapidly changing.  Vertical tidal forces go from local extreme to zero every six hours. As a result, any stable condition of the earth’s crust must be able to withstand the worst that the tides can do.

2. The forces basically affect all of any local area equally. The diameter of the earth is on the order of 13,000 kilometres (km) (8,000 miles). The earth tides are half a meter. Not half a kilometer. Half a metre. Figure 5 shows my drawing of how the tidal force operates on the earth. It is a stretching force that applies to land, sea, and air.

Figure 5. Tidal forces elongating a hypothetical planet and its ocean. The planet is free-falling into the sun, so there are no centripetal forces. Note that the planet is elongated as well, but this is not shown in the diagram because obviously, tides in the solid planet are much smaller than tides in the ocean. NOTE THAT THIS PLANET IS NOT THE EARTH.

Now, in Figure 5, the vertical motion due to tidal force is greatest along the line between the planet and sun. It goes to zero along the vertical plane that passes through the middle of the earth at a distance D from the sun. This is because the vertical tidal force is dependent on “r”, which varies from place to place and time to time on the actual earth (for the calculation see “TIDAL MATH” below).

As a result, any point on the earth goes from high vertical tidal displacement (for that point and time) to no vertical tidal displacement in six hours. Now, that six hours is a quarter of the circumference of the earth, which is about 10,000 km (6,200 mi). And over that distance of 10,000 km, we have a difference in elevation of half a metre. This is a vertical deflection of one part in twenty million … a very, very small amount

And that in turn means that per horizontal kilometre, the average difference in equatorial elevation due to tidal forces is five-hundredths of a millimetre, with a global maximum of about eight-hundredths of a millimetre. That small amount of deflection, one part vertical for each twenty million horizontal, means that the change in elevation is very, very gradual. And as a result, the entire local area is being affected pretty much equally.

Anyhow, that’s my explanation for the fact that although the earth is incessantly flexing from the tides, it doesn’t seem to affect the timing of earthquakes and eruptions as a whole. It’s because the flexing (by global standards) is both small and gradual.

2 AM … gotta go outside and see what the storm did. Raining all day here, and I’m happy about that …

Regards to everyone,

w.

THE USUAL REQUEST: If you disagree with someone, please quote the exact words that you disagree with. That way, we can all see exactly what you are objecting to.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS: Is there a tidal connection to the number of very small earthquakes (microseisms)? Do big earthquakes have a tidal connection? How about big eruptions? As with any investigation, each answer brings new questions … so please, don’t bust me for not answering all of them or assume I’m not aware of them.

TIDAL MATH: The tidal force operating on a one kg mass at a point at a perpendicular distance “r” as shown in Figure 5 is given by

T = 2 G * M * r / D^3

where T is tidal force (newtons), G is the gravitational constant, D and r are as in Figure 5 (metres), and M is the mass of the sun (kg).

MY PREVIOUS POSTS ABOUT THE TIDAL FORCES

Time and the Tides Wait for Godot

I’ve been listening to lots of stuff lately about tidal cycles. These exist, to be sure. However, they are fairly complex, and they only repeat (and even then only approximately) every 54 years 34 days. They also repeat (even more approximately) every 1/3 of that 54+ year cycle, which is…

Canute Ponders The Tides

Short Post.  You can skip this if you understand the tidal force. Some folks seem confused about the nature of tidal forces. Today I saw this gem: “The tide raising force acts in both directions (bulge on each side in the simplistic model)” … the author of that statement may…

## 209 thoughts on “Tides, Earthquakes, and Volcanoes”

1. MCourtney says:

Further evidence that volcanism isn’t periodic related to the year… astrology.
If it was true then someone in some civilization at sometime would have already made the claim. People notice volcanoes and earthquakes.
It’s a dog that doesn’t bark, If there was a hint of truth in this claim then it would have been discussed for thousands of years,

• Suggest you Google “cyclicity in earthquakes and volcanism” for a sample of the voluminous literature on periodic behavior of these two phenomena.

• Willis Eschenbach says:

Thanks, David, but I’ll pass. My custom is to let a man do his own googling. If you have a specific citation, please bring it forwards, and I’m more than happy to discuss it.
Regards,
w.

• Chip Javert says:

David
“[V]oluminous literature” does not necessarily translate to scientific analysis.
Half the fun of reading Willis’ posts is watching him respond to cogent stated disagreements about his analysis.
Please cogently state your disagreement so we can all watch…

• David, I did, since my MO on this stuff (not other stuff where I am primary inventor) is to just see what is what. Most of the cyclicality papers you refer to are for specific volcanos or earthquake zones, and refer to cyclicality on geologic scales. For example, the 2011 Tohoku quake/tsunami was preceded by the 869 Sanriku quake/ tsunami in the same basic place, for which warning stones about the tsunami height reached still stand at Aneyoshi. So, can Japan relax for another 1150 years? Or, when might the next 1906 SF quake along the San Andreas fault occur, based on sediment core evidence of several previous quakes along the same fault in the same area at roughly equal intervals? ( which makes sense if slip/strike strain buildup is roughly linear with respect to roughly constant local tectonic movement.)
Not the same thing at all as Willis is investigating based on Tolstoy’s paper concerning tidal forces. Naming things can be tricky, deserving a whole chapter in The Arts of Truth, about critical thinking. Regards.

• Janus says:

Guys you all have it wrong. Earthquakes are caused by immodestly dressed women!!
I have it from the highest authority:
Women to blame for earthquakes, says Iran cleric | World news | The …
http://www.theguardian.com › World › Iran
Apr 19, 2010 – Women behaving promiscuously are causing the earth to shake, … We cannot invent a system that prevents earthquakes, but God has created …

• Tom Norkunas says:

The Earth moved for me. Just saying’.

• george e. smith says:

Well humans see the ocean tidal bulge on a regular basis, but we generally are comparing the water level movement relative to the land movement, which is considerable.
But stresses in the ground that might conceivably help in a slippage for an earthquake, or unplugging some volcanic magma “tube”, would be differential forces between one piece of rock and some spot nearby.
If the global ground tide difference is a half a metre over the entire diameter of the earth, then clearly the differential force between two spots in the rock that are a meter or even a 100 meters apart, is going to be totally miniscule.
We don’t see tides in a swimming pool or a small lake or reservoir, because the differential tidal force over the size of the lake is quite negligible.
The 500 mm movement of the ground over the diameter of the earth, would be microns over a rock of 1 km size.
g

2. johnmarshall says:

Plate tectonics has a large input into volcanicity and earthquake frequency because they are connected geologically. But tidal forces on the earth between the sun and moon are too small, if your calculations are correct, to add any more heat to the tectonic mix. Tectonics works on heat and that heat is supplied by the radioactive decay of potassium, thorium and uranium in that order of heat supplied due to the quantities of each element not its radioactive content.

• “David Bennett Laing February 7, 2015 at 6:13 am

…susceptible to small, cyclical variations in tidal forces. Resonance effects could also be in play here.”

My first response is why? The tidal forces are still miniscule relative to Earth’s lithosphere tectonic plates.
Consider that most if not all of the plates are well anchored along their convergent boundaries.

• What is the effect of the huge amount of water (sitting on top of 70% of the tectonic plates) that does react to tidal forces? In other words, since tectonic plates are slip-slidin’ around, albeit s-l-o-w-l-y, and they are on top of earth’s waterbed, the asthenosphere, can these tectonic plates be assumed to be not affected by the weight of the water on top of them, water that does react like clockwork even in relatively infinitesimal distances to the forces of the moon, but react nonetheless? Has anyone measured this anywhere?
Ah. Just sawATheoK’s statement: “Consider that most if not all of the plates are well anchored along their convergent boundaries.” Not so anchored that they don’t produce ridges with lava from below. And I thought the Indian plate moved 2mm NE every year, pushing up the Himalayas.

• “policycritic February 7, 2015 at 12:30 pm
..
Ah. Just sawATheoK’s statement: “Consider that most if not all of the plates are well anchored along their convergent boundaries.” Not so anchored that they don’t produce ridges with lava from below. And I thought the Indian plate moved 2mm NE every year, pushing up the Himalayas.”

I believe that is the low end estimate of India’s progress northward.
Consider, the entire subcontinent India is ramming the Eurasian continent, uplifting massive mountain ranges and definitively changing the climate. I would consider that boundary extremely well anchored. If you prefer, consider it intensively engaged.
Now splash it with a slow half meter of water current; a current that flows both ways almost equally in an East-West directions. How far do you think India has moved because water is flowing back and forth at right angles to India’s movement?

• policycritic says:

@ATheoK,

I would consider that boundary extremely well anchored.

Yes, I can see that. But the Indian plate ‘anchor’ is destructive, isn’t it? And active, or at least more active, as a result.
and @Rud Istvan,

And, Earth spins pretty fast so the small tidal forces are just tiny periodic transients to most geologic features enabling quakes and volcanoes.

But what if they aren’t, Rud? Is that possible?
I mean, I’m asking dumb questions because I am dumb about this stuff. What if the earth doesn’t absorb these changes? What if they accumulate in off phases and trigger something? I’m almost embarrassed to hit the Post Comment button. Not almost, I am. But if I don’t ask, I’ll never learn.

• Not only heat. For example, most quakes arise when the elastic strain exceeds the ‘friction’ along a fault. And volcanos when the buildup of magma pressure exceeds the (usually) preexisting rock plug force in the vents. The question is whether tidal forces can provide a ‘trigger’ to such events. Willis’ analysis says no. In hindsight, there may be two obvious reasons why. Most faults and plugs (and rift zones and subduction zones) are not roughly aligned with ‘stretching’ tidal force. So hardly even feel them. And, Earth spins pretty fast so the small tidal forces are just tiny periodic transients to most geologic features enabling quakes and volcanoes.

3. cedarhill says:

Interesting. The Earth is not a solid but has the crust, mantle (rigid and viscous), core (liquid and solid). The crust is 7 to 20+ miles thick. Earthquakes seem to be mostly crustal movements. What would a probability distribution of just the movement of the crust or can a model not be constructed how tidal forces effect the crust. Perhaps using CA seismic data stations?

• Also, earthquakes and volcanos occur at the weakest (thinnest) part of that crust. Think about the Pacific ring of fire and subduction zones. Global averaging and normalizing does not consider these differences.

• Except maybe for Bárðarbunga, Grímsvötn, and friends, who sit on about 40 to 45 km of crust (above the Moho)…

4. Bloke down the pub says:

As a guess, tidal changes would have little effect on a strike-slip fault as compared to a subduction zone.

5. …. charmingly-named Anna Tolstoy …
Maya Tolstoy

• Willis Eschenbach says:

Thanks, Vuk. Either Anthony or one of the mods fixed it for me as I slept, my continual thanks to them for the great work they all do for us here.
w.

6. toorightmate says:

I know a tick on a dog who really likes the moon.
He’s a lunar tick.
He will be ropable if someone delves into tides and neglects to mention the moon.

7. Johanus says:

…paper by the charmingly-named Anna Tolstoy…
It’s Maya Tolstoy. (Perhaps you were thinking of “Anna Karenina”, a fictional character created by Count Leo Tolstoy.

8. Geologist Down The Pub Sez says:

This is an interesting, and counter-intuitive approach. I guess both the frequency and amplitude of the tidal input are too small to effect a couple with the forces which produce the majority of quakes. Such forces being related to plate tectonic drivers, as correctly noted above. I had always assumed there had to be some kind of connection, and we know what “assume” spells. I suppose 97% of scientist made the same assumption. BTW, such a triggering effect, if real, would apply equally to fault movement of all orientations, in reply to the comment directly above. Bloke must be in a different pub, or I would explain, with diagrams!

9. Mike Maguire says:

Really enjoyed this Willis, thanks.

10. I just hope Mr. Eschenbach takes more care with his analyses than he did with Maya Tolstoy’s name.
[fixed -thanks -mod]

• Willis Eschenbach says:

Since you have not found any faults with my analysis, you resort to snark? Sorry, David, not impressed.
w.

• Chip Javert says:

David
As I said in an earlier response to one of your not very effective posts to Willis, keep picking away at him so the rest of us can watch…
I just hope you have more substance than simply correcting first names.

11. My first thought was that your methodology was invariant to time and location. There may be offsetting locations where earthquakes occur less often and others where there are more earthquakes.
So I googled “time of day earthquakes” and came up with this link: http://www.researchpipeline.com/wordpress/2012/10/08/earthquakes-vs-time-of-day/
He seems to have a mistaken idea on how tides work so he ends up over-binning his data and comes up with what I believe to be an incorrect conclusion. But it was an interesting alternative hypothesis.

12. I do not agree with some of the conclusions of Dr. Tolstoy (January-June, CO2 factor etc.), however in her earthquake presentation she talks of those in the deep oceanic trenches (specifically Marianna trench). Using a globally distributed earthquakes data base it may mask some of specifics of the ‘outliers’. Having looked trough various data bases related to tectonics I found that area of the north Atlantic is unique in that respect. This is also case for the Earth’s magnetic field in the area. When analysis is expanded to the N. Hemisphere-wide data sets (for both tectonics and magnetic field) the specific information is lost.

13. D. Cohen says:

Shouldn’t the tidal bulges in Figure 5 be aligned with the position of the moon rather than the sun? (Except when the moon and sun are themselves aligned, of course)

• Apparently, Willis’ planet has no large moon, unlike the Earth.

• Crispin in Waterloo but really in Jakarta says:

D Cohen
That is my thought as well. Reading through the article I can’t see anything that Willis doesn’t see, but the tidal forces are the sum of the positions of the moon, Earth and Sun. The Earth really has to be treated as a double planet with a barycentre about 1000 miles below the surface.
http://www.astronomycafe.net/qadir/q665.html says 1700 km so close enough and shows the calculation.
Thus the stresses on a particular place change far more than the rotation of the face towards or away from the sun. When the moon is on the sun-side, the face of the earth looking towards the moon is quite close to the barycentre. The far side of the earth is being flung out not by the radius of the earth but by about 7000 miles radius from the barycentre.
Whatever the distance is, the effect is not only from rotation and the pull of the sun at two radii, one astronomical unit minus D/2 and the other one astronomical unit plus D/2. It is much greater at minus D/8 and plus 7*D/8.
That doesn’t make the forces large, but certainly larger.
As for the tidal effects of the moon on the tectonic plates, the ‘push’ which is a travelling wave, is always in one direction. If there were no oceans the effect would still be substantial as a force, With the oceans sloshing around, there is a greater effect. The net effect is to lift and drop the earth a little to the side each rotation.
None of that says there is a relationship with volcanoes however. It is possible there are electrical forces involved from pulses. A few million amps can release pre-stressed plates but cyclically? Seems unlikely.

• Willis Eschenbach says:

Thanks for that, Crispin, but I’ve taken all of that into account in my calculations. Because I used the XYZ distances from the center of the earth, the fact that the earth-moon system rotates around its own barycenter is included in those distances. And the same is true for the fact that the earth-moon-sun system rotates around its own barycenter. All of that is reflected in the XYZ distances.
w.

14. The planet is free-falling into the sun, so there are no centripetal forces

Is this just awkwardly written, as a centripetal force , well according to one source “The force of gravity in keeping an object in circular motion is an example of centripetal force”.?

• Kirkc says:

The earth and all orbiting bodies are free falling into the sun at all times. They just happen to be moving sideways fast enough so as not to get any closer (Circular orbits). Centripetal force never comes into play. It’s not really even a force.

• unsatisfactory answer Kirk.

• eyesonu says:

garymount
Willis had a post last spring (April maybe?) on the topic of gravitation forces and the concept of free falling bodies as Kirk above notes. I had a difficult time with it as did many others. Willis is correct as well as Kirk. If you can locate the post and follow the thread perhaps that will help. I had to do a little thought experiment to grasp the concept. It was an eye opener. Hope this helps.

• Kirkc says:

Gary.M
How so? I would elaborate but don’t know in which direction. Willis states “this is not the earth” and I’m not sure why he makes the distinction. It is in fact the earth. It is a body in free fall with no centripedal force. Centripedal is a false force in my opinion. It’s a lazy name for the real thing. “Acceleration” is what it should be called – or gravity. It is an inward force not an outward one.

15. TonyN says:

Nice stuff. A few questions;
What is the effect on the hydrostatic pressure at the bottom of the ocean, at the hydrostatic vents?
What about the energy exchange? A very small deflection of a huge mass represents a lot of potential energy.
What is the peristaltic effect on the oceans, and on the magma. Could it contribute to the rotational velocity of both?

16. And yet, despite the tiny forces involved, the tide produces a 50 ft change in water height in the Bay of Fundy twice a day.

• Tom in Florida says:

Isn’t that due to the geography of the area, a funneling of the water?

• Tidal heights cannot be predicted by first principles directly from tidal forces. They are a harmonic resonance determined by the size and shape of the ocean basin, and the orbital parameters of the sun, earth, and moon. As a result some locations have very small tides, some very large, and these vary over time
As a result you cannot calculate the water pressure from the tides directly from tidal forces, because water flows. As it flows it magnifies the effects of the tidal forces in a non uniform, non-linear fashion.

17. Twobob says:

So its been going on for ever and nobody noticed.
There is no such thing as continental drift.
There is no way a frequency resonance could cause an effect.
Saturn does not cause heating in one of its moons through gravitational affects.
No I will not look through you telescope.
Some times I am just wrong.
Sorry.

• Jupiter’s tidal forces are cause of volcanic eruptions on its moon Io.

• richard verney says:

In juxtaposition with the other Galilean Moons. Io is the inner most of the 4 Galilean moons.

• Willis Eschenbach says:

Twobob February 7, 2015 at 5:24 am

So its been going on for ever and nobody noticed.
There is no such thing as continental drift.
There is no way a frequency resonance could cause an effect.
Saturn does not cause heating in one of its moons through gravitational affects.
No I will not look through you telescope.
Some times I am just wrong.
Sorry.

Say what? I made none of those claims. Are you sure you are on the right thread? I did something simple. I compared the times of earthquakes and eruptions to the tidal force on the day they occurred. How on earth you get from that to continental drift is a mystery.
w.

• MCourtney says:

Willis Eschenbach, I think he’s replying to my comment (the first one under your article) not your post. The position of my comment may have led to some confusion.
My comment suggested an alternative approach to reaching the same conclusion as your post – that the effect may exist but it is too small to be noticed.
Twobob points out that my approach is not 100% conclusive. And my response is, “What is?”

18. Brandon Gates says:

Wills,

Dr. Tolstoy’s hypothesis is …

Seafloor eruption rates, and mantle melting fueling eruptions, may be influenced by sea-level and crustal loading cycles at scales from fortnightly to 100 kyr. Recent mid-ocean ridge eruptions occur primarily during neap tides and the first 6 months of the year, suggesting sensitivity to minor changes in tidal forcing and orbital eccentricity. An ~100 kyr periodicity in fast-spreading seafloor bathymetry, and relatively low present-day eruption rates, at a time of high sea-level and decreasing orbital eccentricity suggest a longer term sensitivity to sea-level and orbital variations associated with Milankovitch cycles.

If you disagree with someone, please quote the exact words that you disagree with. That way, we can all see exactly what you are objecting to.

https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/tidal-forces-eruptions.jpg
… does not take into account sea-level, crustal loading cycles etc. See again “scales from fortnightly to 100 kyr”. Like you, I’m inclined to be dubious of the fortnightly scale of things, but the 100 kyr eccentricity-driven is tougher to dismiss. Impossible to dismiss when the histogram bins are daily, don’t take into account other factors Tolstoy considered, and only cover a century’s worth of data.

• Willis Eschenbach says:

Indeed, I have not examined parts of Dr. Tolstoy’s claims, nor did I say that I had. I said I was inspired by her claims.
w.

• Brandon Gates says:

Willis, thank you for making it clear that your present analysis isn’t a commentary on Tolstoy’s cited work. That obviously wasn’t immediately apparent to me.

19. ferdberple says:

Tolstoy found that all known modern eruptions occur from January through June.

This quote is from the original article Willis referenced in WUWT From The Earth Institute at Columbia University:
I believe this is the relationship that is worth investigating. Clearly this timing rules out the lunar orbit as a factor, so it doesn’t make sense to include it in the analysis. If the lunar orbit isn’t a factor, then the tidal force is unlikely to be the cause.
It it simply coincidence, of is “Something Unknown” causing these eruptions to synchronize with the earth’s annual cycle?

• Alan Robertson says:

Others showed in the first thread, that at least a few submarine volcanoes occur outside Tolstoy’s time frame.

• Brandon Gates says:

Which doesn’t break the hypothesis.

• It does break the statement “…all known modern eruptions…” and assumptions based on that statement.

• at least a few submarine volcanoes occur outside Tolstoy’s time frame.

Were the submarine volcanoes in Tolstoy study area? If so, then the article must have sensationalized the results of the actual paper. If not, then the quote remains.
In either case, Willis is try to show statistical significance, not 100% certainty.
if eruptions are statistically more likely to January through June, then that is significant and worthy of study, because it suggests eruptions are predictable to some degree.

• Brandon Gates says:

ATheoK,

It does break the statement “…all known modern eruptions…” and assumptions based on that statement.

Echoing ferdberple somewhat, I don’t know where the “all modern eruptions” statement comes from. I don’t find it in Tolstoy’s paper, so from my POV, observing that eruptions happen year round doesn’t break her hypothesis. Her argument, right or wrong, is one of relative frequency influenced by tidal forces and orbital parameters, NOT that those things are the main causal mechanism.

• Must be the reading comprehension.
From the “Earth Institute at Columbia University press release:”

“…Furthermore, Tolstoy found that all known modern eruptions occur from January through June. January is the month when Earth is closest to the sun, July when it is farthest–a period similar to the squeezing/unsqueezing effect Tolstoy sees in longer-term cycles…”

From Maya’s paper: (my bolding)

“…[1] 6 Seafloor eruption rates, and mantle melting fueling eruptions, may be influenced by
7 sea-level and crustal loading cycles at scales from fortnightly to 100 kyr. Recent mid-ocean ridge eruptions occur primarily during neap tides and the first 6 months of the year, 9 suggesting sensitivity to minor changes in tidal forcing and orbital eccentricity…”

While the University issued the press release, I assume that they had Maya proof read it to ensure they had her research right.

• Brandon Gates says:

Or the press office simply muffed it as they so often do. I resolve such disputes by reading the primary document.

• I, with colleagues of mine, had a privilege to observe pictures and sound from many important UK and world events as they are unfolding, then see later on in the media what journalists made out of it; my advice is that one should always allow for a minimum + or – 30% error bar on whatever journalists write.

• Hole Earth as a body as well as its individual parts are subject of the tidal forces. Hydrosphere is (almost) free to move into atmosphere, that is not the case for the mantle, outer liquid or the metallic inner core. Since none of these are ‘compressable’ I suspect some kind of ‘shunting’ effect, however small, is propagating in a spiral from the centre towards periphery.

• Philip T. Downman says:

Todays funniest typo, though. It nearly makes sense…in a way..

• Neil says:

August 24, 79 AD is geologically modern. And that was no small puppy.

• Neil says:

And, replying to myself, August 27, 1883, when Krakatoa went pop, is decidedly modern.
I don’t think that theory “all known modern eruptions occur from January through June” holds much water.

• milodonharlani says:

Toldtoy’s study is of submarine volcanoes, not subaerial.

• milodonharlani says:

Tolstoy. Sorry. Typing with cold fingers on an iPhone 4S on a boat.

• Brandon Gates says:

ferdberple,

If the lunar orbit isn’t a factor, then the tidal force is unlikely to be the cause.

The January-June relationship, if real, is almost certainly driven by eccentricity of Earth’s orbit around the Sun, which means tidal force. This is counter-intuitive because the Moon’s tidal force is always stronger, so yes, “something else” is going on. I’d start with noting that perihelion is on January 4, the eruptions are happening more often AFTER the closest approach. Orbit around the Sun is obviously longer-period than Moon around the Earth, so the sustained weaker tidal force becomes a detectable signal statistically over the higher frequency stronger tidal force. What else. Oh, axial tilt. After perihelion in January, approaching equinox in March the Sun’s tidal force is moving into the same plane as the Earth’s rotation. The Moon not being in the same orbital plane. Etc.
Who knows. But those are the kinds of things I’d be thinking about before ruling tidal force out of the picture completely. And yes it could be a statistical error due to small sample size.

• once could imagine that the earth’s mantle/crust has a natural frequency of approximately 1 year in length that is in resonance with our orbit around the sun, and this leads to peaks and troughs in the mantle, which synchronizes the period of eruptions.
as such, the earths rotation as well as the orbit of the moon, being much higher frequency would have much less effective power to excite the mantle/crust, thus the much lower response of eruptions to the moon.
People think that the earth’s tide are simply water moving up and down, but they are not. the tides result from a complex wave-train traveling around the world as the earth rotates.
Clearly if the oceans are affected, so is the rest of the earth. We see peaks and valleys in the tides at resonance points such as the Bay of Fundy. Why not something similar acting on much longer frequency resonance points in the mid-ocean ridges?

• Willis Eschenbach says:

Brandon Gates February 7, 2015 at 6:25 am

The January-June relationship, if real, is almost certainly driven by eccentricity of Earth’s orbit around the Sun, which means tidal force.

As I said in the head post, for earthquakes and for terrestrial volcanoes, there is absolutely no “January-June relationship”. The distribution of both across the calendar year is random and regular, with approximately the same number occurring every month.
w.

• Brandon Gates says:

Willis, the January-June relationship comes from Tolstoy’s paper. I’m only talking about it down here because ferdberple brought it up.

• Brandon Gates says:

ferdberple,

as such, the earths rotation as well as the orbit of the moon, being much higher frequency would have much less effective power to excite the mantle/crust, thus the much lower response of eruptions to the moon.

That’s more or less where I was going with this. Tolstoy devotes several paragraphs to it in her paper, quick excerpt:
This may reflect a long-wavelength sensitivity of melting at depth, melt transport and/or dike formation, due to lithospheric/asthenopheric extension and unloading. The thin seafloor lithosphere in this extensional environment would make seafloor volcanism much more sensitive to deformation due to eccentricity compared to terrestrial settings. The apparent sensitivity of mid-ocean ridge magmatism to this relatively minor yearly orbital perturbation implies that it may also be sensitive to long-term orbital perturbations, thus linking seafloor volcanism to the Milankovitch cycles observed so strongly in climate data.
Cross-checking all that against her cited references exceeds my time and brainpower at the moment. What I do know is that she goes from that to possible CO2 release which provides part of the srong 100 year glaciation cycle signals. Or in translation: “Hey, there is some CO2 leading T at work here,” which I think is what’s being contested on the original thread where this paper was discussed (I haven’t tracked that post very closely, being more occupied elsewhere).

• Brandon Gates says:

… make that “strong 100 kyr glaciation cycles … “

• rgbatduke says:

January is perihelion and the maximum solar tidal force, as well as southern hemisphere summer. One can think of all sorts of reasons that either one could be contributing, but I agree with Willis that the statistical evidence is weak and somewhat anecdotal.
From the way earthquakes happen (building up stresses until a stress-relieving event is “suddenly” triggered by some sort of nucleating shake) it does make sense that the threshold for a triggering event is lowest at times of greatest tidal stress, but again, one needs a lot more data turned into evidence to convincingly support the hypothesis empirically. At the moment it is at best anecdotal.
rgb

• Number of recent earthquakes were preceded by strong geomagnetic storms. NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center looked into this phenomenon some years ago.
I suggested a simple mechanism
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/TF.jpg
Started a daily survey ( geomagneti storms, lunar phases and M>4.5 ) for more than a year, even posted a warning on the WUWT 6 -7 hours before Japan’s mega-quake.
More details about it all (with links) here
Got swamped by the data, after all people die in the earthquakes, it is not subject that idle cranks should mess about, and I went off to more benign pseudoscience. Case against half a dozen Italian seismologists was also of some interest.

• Curious George says:

I’ll comment on vukcevic’s excellent graph. When a tidal force pulls in a left-right direction, there is less load on the fault and maybe an increased possibility of an earthquake. It can be tested on a subset of earthquakes on mainly north-south oriented faults (which get pulled by tidal forces most) and a tidal force at the moment of an earthquake, not a daily tidal force.

• rgbatduke says:

When a tidal force pulls in a left-right direction,

Yeah, but there are various problems right there. Yes, tidal “forces” are tensorial in the rotating, revolving frame of the Earth, but what you are looking at (or for) are differences in tidal forces across the fault, and these are almost nonexistent. How can I put this? The difference in tidal pseudoforce in the maximum direction is order of:
$g \times \frac{r^3}{R_o^3}$
where $r$ is the solar-radial distance between a sphere of center-of-mass orbital radius $R_o$ centered on the sun and the point in question (and where $g$ is the usual surface acceleration of gravity). This is an upper bound — there are further geometric corrections as well or corrections of the same order due to the earth’s rotation on its own axis and bulge and of course this is typically small compared to the related lunar tidal pseudoforce (because even though the mass of the sun is much larger than the mass of the moon, the ratio of the radius of the earth to the radius of the moon’s orbit is much, much larger and this ratio is cubed!). Also, this force vanishes completely when the location in question is at right angles where the angular projection would be maximum, so you are looking at a maximum “left-right” force that occurs only at certain very specific angles relative to the radial axis where the sun is directly overhead (where the force is strictly vertical).
Next you have to integrate the differential tangential force components on both sides of the fault over some “suitable” surface slab to determine the lateral force differential, assuming that the two plates are basically “free”, to try to determine the tensorial stress and likely strain. Yuk. But in the end, I suspect that the stretching and contraction of the surface in association with the bulge wave itself, which is the result of plastic deformation due to mere differential buoyant forces acting on the entire interior volume of the Earth that are going to be orders of magnitude more important than transverse strain due to the difference in tidal forces exerted on the masses on either side of a fault. That force scales like projection of a projection of the distance between them, divided by $R_o$, to something like the fifth power (it’s a second or even third order correction to the average tidal force at the fault location). I’d say that is way down in the noise compared to the direct tidal bulge and all stretching associated with it.
rgb

• Curious George says:

rgb – thank you for considering my comment. However, you would only be correct if the Earth were liquid. With a solid crust, the tensions tend to concentrate at points of weakness.

• Is it wrong to assume:
Tectonic plates are large solid bodies, part of the plate experiencing strongest tidal pull might be thousands of miles away from the ‘fault line’, but mechanical force would be transferred all the way to the stress point, while the opposite plate may be affected by much smaller force, creating significant delta across very small distance.

• Willis Eschenbach says:

Robert, regarding your post above, I fixed the error in your Latex so the main equation would display properly.
In addition, I resized it by adding the size instruction “&s=3” to the very end of the latex code, just before the “\$”. The size codes range from -4 to 5, with the default of 0 being a pretty small font.
I use &s=3 for fractions and main equations, and &s=1 for variable names in text, so I resized yours accordingly.
Regards,
w.

• JJM Gommers says:

The orbital parameter seems to dominate, closest distance 04 january and 04 july widest

• Chip Javert says:

re …Tolstoy found that all known modern eruptions occur from January through June…
Krakatoa in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) began on August 26, 1883

20. fhsiv says:

Willis,
You picked “large” earthquakes for part of your analysis. What about microseismicity? There are a vastly greater number of events that facilitates statistical analysis and the forces involved with triggering the small events are at a more proportional scale to the tidal forces you are considering.

21. MikeUK says:

C’mon “Willis”, how many people are there writing articles under the name “Willis”? I can’t believe that they are all the work one person, who also has a job, a wife and who goes on holidays.

• Alan Robertson says:

Willis doesn’t spend time around here smartin’ off, like so many of us who never publish anything.

22. Gary Pearse says:

Nice work again, Willis. Given the fact that earthquakes are a release of stress that builds up over time, my first thought was to ask what you thought of a lagged response due to “fatigue” from the oscillatory vibration for big earthquakes, but of course, with the exceedingly small movement involved, in the range (perhaps) of thermal expansion movements in which there is no permanent strain, this seems a dead issue. It might be interesting to see if there is any “bunching up” of earthquake frequencies and/or volcanic occurrences to see if there is some other operator at work.
Hydrologists looking after millions of piezometers around the world get an oscillation in the depth to the water table caused by earth tides (separate from the hydraulic push from rising tides in sea water in coastal regions). In this case, at earth high tide, the well water level drops because the lifting of the overlying mass increases the porosity of the aquifer. It is confounded by barometric pressure which also effects water levels. If you subtract the effect of barometric, then you get the the 12hr variation that is tide induced.
How wonderful to be living on a little round ball!

23. Stephen Richards says:

I could imagine a situation silmilar to Yuri Geller spoon bending where the tidal forces from the moon, sun and other large celestrial bodies might ‘flex’ sensitive points on the planet but not cause earthquake or volcanic activity in sequence with the force applied. However, the number of medium to large earthquakes over the past century appear to have been somewhat less than the previous century. That being the case it is unlikely that the day to day terrestial tide have a significant influence.

24. Stephen Richards says:

Hydrologists looking after millions of piezometers around the world get an oscillation in the depth to the water table caused by earth tides
This is the reason given by my fellow french gardeners for planting and sowing with the lunar cycle.

• ???
A six hour plus/minus cycle constrained by shallow strata of rock, clay, detritus, gravel, sand, marl, swamp… and someone claims that people notice the tides in their holes down to the water table?
I’ve never noticed much difference in my water table and we use well water. Nor for that matter have I ever noticed changing water levels in swamps I’ve visited.

• This is the reason given by my fellow french gardeners for planting and sowing with the lunar cycle.

So do the Chinese.

25. TonyN says:

Could this concentration over the first 6 months of the year be a contributor to the CO2 variation seen in the Mauna Kea series?

26. notBriggs says:

“UNANSWERED QUESTIONS: Is there a tidal connection to the number of very small earthquakes (microseisms)? ”
I thought that the observed data did indeed show such a connection.
See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhMoQrLEJe0 near the 10 minute mark.
You can, of course, refuse to look at this and call me names instead if that suits you better … as is customary on such blogs.

• Worth watching. Limited utility though. Mostly a fund-raising endeavor in my opinion.
I don’t see that it supports the assertions Willis was checking. The bottom line is they are checking. It will be proven out or abandoned. So, good science, hopefully.

27. Reblogged this on Public Secrets and commented:
Interesting rebuttal to the previous post about the theory that tidal forces affect underwater earthquake eruptions.

28. Though tidal forces are tiny, they are repetitive and cumulative (maybe like metal fatigue?). I don’t think it prudent to totally disregard the possibility of any effect, yet… The absence of temporal correlation is not convincing.

• Good point. There’s a reason for the old saying “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. Eventually, the accumulated load exceeds the strength of the material being stressed.
At earthquake fault zones stresses build up until the two sides of the fault “slip” and release the stress, often in catastrophic fashion. However, mid-ocean ridges are driven by a different set of forces since they are nearer the source of both oceanic crust and the force that ultimately pushes the continents apart.
Perhaps convection in the mantle (the driving force beneath the mid-oceanic ridges) responds to tidal forces differently than the asymmetrically applied forces at a continental fault?

• Willis Eschenbach says:

Slywolfe February 7, 2015 at 7:41 am

Though tidal forces are tiny, they are repetitive and cumulative (maybe like metal fatigue?). I don’t think it prudent to totally disregard the possibility of any effect, yet…

As I pointed out, the earth’s crust is flexed twice a day. So cumulative stresses like metal fatigue don’t seem to be an issue.

The absence of temporal correlation is not convincing.

OK … then what would you find convincing?
w.

• As I pointed out, the earth’s crust is flexed twice a day. So cumulative stresses like metal fatigue don’t seem to be an issue.

To be more precise, at any given point on the globe, maximum flexing occurs twice per day but the increase/decrease in flexing is a constant process. Furthermore, for typical earthquakes, as around San Francisco, cumulative stresses are the critical issue (although regular tidal forces may simply net out). I have no idea if that changes for mid-oceanic ridge quakes or eruptions but it seems an interesting question.

• opluso:

“… cumulative stresses are the critical issue…”

I believe you misread the geologist statements.
Cumulative movement causes the cumulative strain, the strain is not independent.
A slight back and both movement of water may assist erosion but it can not be a serious consideration for causing several hundred to thousands cubic miles of rock to move against an equally ponderous amount of material.
Can the flexing caused to Earth by the sun and moon be cumulative over eons or provide the ‘trigger’ causing faults to slip?
That question is interesting and deserves some thought and research. But I think the Earth Science researchers need to fully understand why India rammed north at high speed geologically leaving Australia and Antarctica peacefully little affected.
North/South trending tectonic movement is somewhat contrary to the East/West flexing. Still it is a very complex world

29. Willis, I am in awe over how you manage to publish so many unfailingly interesting papers.

• MichaelS says:

I read this as “how you manage to publish so many failingly uninteresting papers”
Sh*t was about to get real lol.

• Willis Eschenbach says:

aashfield February 7, 2015 at 7:56 am Edit

Willis, I am in awe over how you manage to publish so many unfailingly interesting papers.

As to the number, stay up late, drink coffee, code fast, type at 70 wpm, neglect normal life …
As to them being interesting, unlike many scientists I have the great fortune to be perfectly free to study what actually interests me at the moment. Since I’m fascinated and amused and amazed by whatever I’m discovering and writing about at any given time, it tends to be interesting to others as well.
Thanks for the comment,
w.

30. rgbatduke says:

Willis, the only thing I’m not certain I understand is your figure above in which you show things “moving the furthest” with the tidal bulge and the sun. On the face of it, this figure is labelled incorrectly. The tides are evaluated relative to the center of mass (CM), and occur because the entire extended body of the earth cannot be in the Newtonian orbit predicted by gravity and momentum, only the CM can.
The velocity of the center of mass of an extended object in a “perfect” (circular) solar orbit is $v = \sqrt{GM_s/R_o}$. The actual velocity of the CM is $2 \pi R_o/T$ where $T$ is the period of the orbit (1 year). Objects on the Earth closer to the sun by a distance $R_e$ are moving at a speed (neglecting rotation) of $2 \pi (R_o - R_e)/T$, but their orbital speed should be $\sqrt{GM_s/(R_o - R_e)}$ — they are moving too slowly to be in orbit. Their actual central acceleration is completely determined: $a_c = 4\pi^2 (R_o - R_e)/T^2$ and this determines what the net force has to be on the object. The tidal “force” is a pseudoforce that appears as the difference between normal force and earth gravitation. On the other side one is similarly moving too fast to be in orbit and (it turns out) the difference between gravitation and normal has the same sign, hence a bulge on BOTH sides as correctly drawn above.
But, this means that the CM doesn’t “move” at all — it remains in proper orbit. Objects at true zenith and its midnight, along the line facing towards and away from the sun, have less “weight” than objects on the intersection of the sphere of radius $R_o$ around the sun (including the CM, which is “weightless” in the center of the Earth’s sphere as well) and “move” the most, almost symmetrically (although IIRC tides are very slightly larger on the side facing the attractor, but I don’t feel like deriving the result in full again at the moment although it isn’t that difficult and I did most of the work in the previous paragraph except for writing the expression for the pseudoforce and doing a Taylor series expansion of the result to get the leading $R_e^3/R_o^3$ term). To the extent that the Earth, its atmosphere and its ocean are not truly “solid”, a tidal bulge appears as a surface wave, and because the Earth rotates this bulge forms with a lag that exerts a small torque on the Earth that would gradually reduce its rotational speed at some rate if it weren’t for the fact that lunar tides are stronger and more important in that regard. Because the Earth is tipped relative to the solar ecliptic, this torque also has a component that (among other things) helps to cause the precession of the Earth’s axis so that in another century or so Polaris won’t, in fact, be the “pole star” any more and will undergo increasingly large circles as the polar axis sweeps out a very long period cone.
It is this surface wave that sweeps across us 2x a day, mostly from the moon but augmented by the sun whenever the moon is full or new and sun, moon, earth line up in any order (spring tides). As you say, even the Earth’s surface is sufficiently plastic that buoyant forces associated with the deformation wave lift and drop parts of it 18 inches or so every day, just as tide lifts and drops parts of the ocean by order of a meter (or more) a day, and lifts and drops the atmosphere to drive really complex behavior in the atmosphere at all levels:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_tide
Just in case one thought that the Navier-Stokes equations being solved at an absurdly coarse granularity capture all of the physics of either atmosphere or ocean…
rgb

• Crispin in Waterloo but really in Jakarta says:

rgbat
I don’t fault your math at all but I don’t see specific mention of the barycentre of the Earth-Moon system. The effect on any point along the equator of the Earth is much larger than it would be if there was no moon moving the barycentre so far from the centre of the Earth. I understand you formulas to work for a sun+planet. In our case the planet is a pair of bodies and we are discussing the surface effect on one of them. Please also see my note above.

• Willis Eschenbach says:

rgbatduke February 7, 2015 at 8:24 am

Willis, the only thing I’m not certain I understand is your figure above in which you show things “moving the furthest” with the tidal bulge and the sun. On the face of it, this figure is labelled incorrectly. The tides are evaluated relative to the center of mass (CM), and occur because the entire extended body of the earth cannot be in the Newtonian orbit predicted by gravity and momentum, only the CM can.

Thanks as always, Robert. As I tried to emphasize out, although obviously not clearly enough, the planet in Figure 5 is not circling the sun. It is in freefall into the sun. So there is no “Newtonian orbit predicted by gravity and momentum”.
w.

• rgbatduke says:

Ah. You are just showing how the inhomogeneous field stretches objects out. Fine, got it.
Sorry, I have to explain this to undergrads all the time. I actually give them both problems if they are majors — the linear example explains how tides happen in the first place, but they don’t really explain solar or lunar tides very well because of the orbits.
rgb

• Willis and RGBatduke, a light hearted but serious comment, which your above exchange illustrates. Aimed not at your exchange, but at the much larger issue of responding effectively to ‘settled CAGW science’ in a way that saps its popular momentum. The question on this thread is simple. Is Tolstoy’s new paper credible? Now at the RGB level of tidal force physics, probably not. And at the Willis level of lets check it out with data, also probably not. But one of the two is likely more informative to the general public, at the cost of less precisely correct.
Same generic issue in Nic Lewis’ new evisceration of Marotzke’s purported defense of GCM’s against the model/observation divergence falsification. None other than Ross McKitrick had to translate Nic into simpler stuff. None other than Steven Mosher of BEST thanked him for doing so, commenting, “much clearer”. But the core popular message was in Nic’s simple observation, “To a physicist, the result that variations in model a and k have almost no effect on 62-year trends is so surprising that the immediate response should be: “what has Marotzke done wrong?”. Which almost nobody got until it was pounded home separately
There is a tension between precision and popular comprehension. Facing the onslaught of warmunist stuff (papers, PR, MSM spin on both) it is perhaps better to go for simple, approximately right messages that maximize comprehension over precision. In the extreme, just verifiable simplified ‘sound bites’.

• eyesonu says:

Rud Istvan
I think it all needs to be presented. The highly technical as well as a summary or simplification if you will. There is a wide range of viewers here. There are many of us who are trying to bridge our knowledge between the two explanations involved in a particular issue.

31. rgbatduke says:

Oh, and Willis,
If you renormalize your figures (divide the solid by the crosshatched?) to plot the temporal rate of earthquakes or volcanoes per unit of tidal bulge (number per tidal value normalized by the time spent with that tidal value — the temporal opportunity, as it were, for events to occur) I suspect that your curves, that are currently a bit misleading as they initially suggest some sort of broad peak as a function of tidal force, will flatten right out to be almost uniform.
It also lets you do a Kolmogorov-Smirnov test on the resulting distribution against uniform and compute an actual p-value on the null hypothesis “there is no effect”, which eliminates handwaving over the possible significance of the small excursions from this nearly flat line. I’m guessing that p will end up around 0.8, so very far from 0 that rejecting the null hypothesis is absurd. Don’t wanna screen-scrape your numbers and I’m about to make beer which is a time consuming task for the day, or I’d do it myself.
A better way to argue, I’m just sayin’…
rgb

• per unit of tidal bulge

how about doing the same using the annual cycle, to test if there is some statistical significance to the Jan-June effect?

• rgbatduke says:

That’s even easier, since one can compare to the binomial distribution with p = 0.5 for heads and tails both. Or if one wants to get fancier, one can start with p = 0.5 and use the data to compute an improved posterior probability given the evidence, correcting the prior and ending up with a plausible estimate of the probability in Jan-June vs July-Dec. I think R can do that in something like four or five commands (according to my book on doing Bayesian analysis with R:-).
rgb

• Making beer is very important, it makes it easier to sip and consider all problems in depth over long periods of time.
Thank you for the insights Dr. Brown.
Thanks for a terrific thread Willis.

32. Old miners claim rock falls in the underground are most prevalent around 1:00 am local time and try to be out of the workings if they can. I don’t have personal experience with that. The only time I experience a rock fall was in the early afternoon. pg

33. Willis this applies to you.
The problem with so many in climate science is that the scientist in this field try to prove their points as to what may or may not effect the climate with specific items, as if they are in ISOLATION, rather then in the context of the entire climatic picture.
Again a given force and magnitude changes of that force which may impact the climate has to be taken into consideration with the entire spectrum of items that are exerting an influence on the climate at that given time ,along with the state of the climate at that given time in order to get a sense of what impact that specific force may or may not exert on the climate.
This is why it is so hard to prove and show a simple cause and effect relationship between the climate and items exerting a force upon the climate even though it does exist.

34. don penman says:

I feel that earth tremors are more likely to occur when heavy rain seeps down through porous rock until it meets a fault line where it can make movement of a fault easier.The water can act to lubricate movement of faults and release pressure that is building up.It could be that more tremors ocurring after winter is not coincidence.

• Gary Pearse says:

don, on much of the earth, such faults are already below the water table and don’t need to wait for rain and if you are thinking about frost as an inhibitor, its also frost free below a few feet from the surface. Indeed, faults that aren’t healed would be a conduit for ground water.

• Might work for shallow earthquakes.
It’s well recognised that open pit mines can generate earthquakes locally…
http://www.bhpbilliton.com/home/society/regulatory/Documents/Olympic%20Dam%20Supplementary%20EIS/Documents/Chapter%208%20Mining-Induced%20Seismicity.pdf
However rain is not going to lubricate the deep seated faults that cause major earthquakes where tectonic plates slide past each other. Examples are the Aceh earthquake/tsunami, the various major earthquakes of California and the recent Japanese earthquake/tsunami.

35. Curt says:

It appears to me you made a serious mistake in your analysis from a climate science perspective. If you had split things into 20 bins instead of 16, I think you could have gotten results with a p-value less than 0.05…

36. In the previous thread I linked to her CERN presentation, it is about deep sea earthquakes,where the crust is much thinner. I think it is good idea to listen before rejecting all of her conclusions on the basis of the global data.
Beside, I rather look at Dr. Tolstoy’s talk in preference to Dr. Mann any day.
So here it is again:

• Alan Robertson says:

Equally as engaging as her name…

• I don’t know about US schools, but in UK girls are reluctant to take up science. Whether we agree or not with her findings, she could be great role model and inspiration for young girls who might not otherwise choose science.

• vuk; in he US, science is being eliminated by “Common Core”

• Alan Robertson says:

Videos of a NASA control room during launch missions reveal the presence of many women. Several astronauts have been women, including three female astronauts and an accompanying female science teacher who lost their lives during the unfortunate Challenger and Discovery space shuttle accidents.

• Alan Robertson says:

Pardon, above should read: “… Challenger and <strikeDiscovery Columbia…”
[?? .mod]

• Alan Robertson says:

still messed it up… The Challenger and Columbia were fatal shuttle missions.
Mods: pimf – please help if you can…

• William Larson says:

Being myself a dedicated scientist, I make my judgments of scientific validity solely on the basis of the physical attractiveness of the scientist. Therefore, I conclude in this instance that M. Tolstoy is far more correct than is W. Eschenbach.

37. c1ue says:

I wonder if the tidal force has some effect on building up stresses in the crust – which in turn lead to earthquakes? Because there does seem – at least on the last century or two – to be a periodicity for waves of really large quakes.
This is, of course, a backwards argument: that earthquakes are releasing pent up stress, that this stress is built up by tidal forces (as opposed to say, plate tectonics), and that there is some level at which said stress yields big earthquakes.

38. QV says:

Willis, I apologise for posting this off topic question here but the CMIP5 Model Temperature Results in Excel blog is now closed.
I have downloaded the one member per model data for RCP 4.5 from KNMI Climate Explorer and the resulting numbers do not appear to match those
in the one run per model spreadsheet to which you posted the link:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/96723180/CMIP5%20Models%20Air%20Temp%20One%20Member.xlsx
The numbers seem to be lower in the KNMI file than they are in yours.
For example the first figure in the first model is 285.0179 k compared to 289.7803 k in your file.
The figure of 285.0179 k is identical in the KNMI multi run per model file, as it should be, because the first model has only one run, and it also ties in with the equivalent data in your multi multi run spreadsheet.
Could you suggest a reason why the numers on KNMI don’t appear to match the ones in your spreadsheet?

• Willis Eschenbach says:

Thanks, QV. I don’t know the answer. Hang on … OK, good catch. It seems I used the southern hemisphere data rather than global data. I’ve replaced the errant spreadsheet with the correct one, the link is unchanged.
Best regards, and I definitely appreciate your checking my work.
w.

• QV says:

Thanks for the reply.
I hope you don’t really think I am “checking your work”.
I just wanted to confirm I was using KNMI correctly!

• Willis Eschenbach says:

QV February 7, 2015 at 11:15 am Edit

Thanks for the reply.
I hope you don’t really think I am “checking your work”.

By “checking my work” I meant identifying errors. That’s how science in general and my work in particular advances, through identification and correction of errors.
As a result, I encourage people to check not only my work, but everyone’s work.
Best to you,
w.

39. BenP says:

I know nothing. However, I recall that when the Christchurch quakes occurred, I would look at a website that showed the daily quakes in that area. For a short period, there was a chart that depicted the quake energy expended, compared to the tidal forces. It was available as a link from the main page. While it was there I seem to recall seeing what I thought was a correlation between tidal forces and quakes; but not at peak, rather around the center of the slope during ramp up/down from peak to trough.
I thought at the time that made sense, if one side of a fault, acting as a relatively rigid monoblock, was pulled away from the other side, allowing the sides to move relatively to each other. This would, I guess cause a earthquake weaker than might have occurred if the forces were allowed to build up until they moved without help.
I think one of the earlier comments on this post mentioned side pulling on north/south faults?
Two cents worth.

40. PMHinSC says:

For those of us not as knowledgeable on this subject I suggest The Feynman Lecture on Physics, Vol I, page 7-4 that reads in part “[the earth] goes in a circle around a point which is inside the earth but not at its center. …The water on the far side is “unbalanced” because the moon’s attraction there is weaker than it is at the center of the earth, where it just balances the “centrifugal force.” Effectively a spinning barbell with the bar being the gravitational attraction between the moon and the earth. Since the earth has significantly more mass than the moon the center of spin is inside the earth but offset from its center. There are 2 paragraphs on this subject that are worth reading. I have a hard-bond copy but understand the Feynman Lecture on Physics is available on internet. I couldn’t get “dictation” to work so I hope I this transcription is accurate.

• Willis Eschenbach says:

Thanks, PMHinSC. I avoid any explanation of tidal bulges which involves orbits and circles and “centrifugal force”. Why?
Because as Figure 5 shows, you get a tidal bulge in a free-falling object without any orbits or circles of any kind. This is because tidal forces are stretching forces, so they stretch a circle into an oval.
So while there are a lot of valid ways to explain why there are tidal bulges on both sides of the earth, I shave with Occams Razor and pick the simplest, the one shown in Figure 5.
w.

41. Her direction is the wrong path and it is not tides but probably galactic cosmic rays/charged particles which are governed by solar activity combined with the earth’s magnetic field that governs geological activity.
I would like her see to refute the data I sent from the Space and Science Center which shows a clear correlation between prolonged solar minimum conditions and major geological activity. How does she reconcile that data with what she is trying to convey?
I say make some predictions about future major geological activity to show us how good your theory is.
Like climate science they choose to look at the data that fits their study rather then make their study fit the data.

• @Salvatore Del Prete,

Like climate science they choose to look at the data that fits their study rather then make their study fit the data.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s not what she said in her TED/CERN talk above. She was looking at the hourly data from instruments she designed.

42. I meant I would like to she her refute the data I sent form the Space and Science Center.

43. Toshikazu Ebisuzaki say : “…. Nine of the 11 events occurred during the solar inactive phase (sunspot numbers < 40), despite the fact that exactly half of the 306 years during the period of interest fell in the solar inactive phase …."
I agree.
http://michelecasati.altervista.org/significant-statistically-relationship-between-the-great-volcanic-eruptions-and-the-count-of-sunspots-from-1610-to-the-p.html
"….Of the historical 31 large volcanic eruptions with index VEI5+, recorded between 1610 and 1955, 29 of these were recorded when the SSN<46…."
Address this Miss Tolstoy.

44. highflight56433 says:

Bridges fail for the same reason. They eventually break from flexing and other deterioration. The earth gravity at the center of the earth is zero, it linearly increases to the surface. I imagine the center warping motion eventually affects the crust, like traffic on a bridge.

• Crispin in Waterloo but really in Jakarta says:

highflight:
“The earth gravity at the center of the earth is zero”
Well, not really. The Earth is not alone you see. The moon and Earth are a pair and because the moon is always there its influence cannot be dismissed/ignored.
At the physical centre of the Earth you would be pulled toward the moon, wherever it happened to be at the time. The ‘neutral spot’ is only 1700 km below the surface and is moving as fast as the Earth rotates, directly under the moon.
The ‘fling’ of the mass at the far side away from that neutral spot is not only the difference in radius and orbital speed, but the fact that the Earth is spinning quite quickly which makes it 43 km larger in diameter at the equator than it is through the poles.
The combination of spin and orbit is the total ‘flinging force’. Water, which freely sloshes around, is 1700 km ‘towards the moon’ relative to the barycentre once a day and 10,800 km on the ‘away from the moon’ side of neutral 12 hours later. Pretty cool.

• highflight56433 says:

Nice. I was in a weak way trying to point out that most of the earth is liquid, like the ocean, thus a lot of movement and pressure from the moon, sun, and other large forces in the solar system.

• highflight56433 says:

…and the crust of the earth is comparatively thin, where by more than just the ocean is affecting its motion.

45. On a wider scale there was a flurry created in 1974 by the publication of a book by John Gribbin titled, “The Jupiter Effect”. For want of a better source, Wikipedia provides a summary.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jupiter_Effect
The claim was that the alignment of nine planets in one segment of the sky, would exert increased gravitational pull on the earth’s crust and trigger the San Francisco earthquake. (This event is also dubbed The Age of Aquarius). The earthquake did not occur.
As I recall, it raised a question from scientists about the liability of predictions. If they predicted and it didn’t happen would they be liable, or if they had information and didn’t provide a warning, were they liable? What about cost of the recent failed storm prediction for New York?
From a climate perspective, the other interesting thing about this variation in gravitational pull is that Jupiter is the main cause of the orbital eccentricity of the Earth in the Milankovitch Effect.

• Hi Dr. Ball
I came across set of the climate related data with a strong 400 days periodicity, but already being thought of as a bit of a crank, I left it alone. If there is Jupiter effect it could be magnetic. NASA claims that there is magnetic ‘Flux Transfer Event’ between sun and the Earth.
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2008/30oct_ftes/
Same physical principle can be applied for existence of a sun-Jupiter FTE, transversed by the Earth’s magnetosphere every 399 days.
Regarding question of scientists’ predictions liability, some Italian seismologist got to ‘know’ about it hard way.

46. William Astley says:

The discussion goes in circles without a basic understanding of what is and is not causing the observations. The correct solution must explain all of the observations/paradoxes.
Why the heck do undersea volcanoes erupt ‘almost exclusively during the first six months of each year’? Come on man, that is really weird, there must be a physical reason to cause that.
Obviously tidal forces and orbital forces are not the explanation for 37,000 miles of undersea volcanoes that erupt almost exclusively during the first six months of the year.
I appear to be the only one on the planet that knows how to solve holistic constrained problems, who actively investigates multi field anomalies/paradoxes at a specialist level ignoring field boundaries following the implications of the observations, (there is one correct solution to all physical problems – this is physics not magic -, it is impossible to solve physical problems if one works with theories/mechanisms that are fundamental incorrect). The fact that there are piles and piles of anomalies/paradoxes in multiple fields indicates are fundamental errors in the base theories which has astonishing practical and theoretical implications.
I gather the piles and piles of anomalies and paradoxes (with no regard for field boundaries as the solution to this particular problem is the sun is different than assumed which is supported by almost a hundred cosmological observational anomalies/paradoxes, there are piles and piles of observations in peer reviewed astrophysics papers that support the assertion that massive collapsed objects change with time) and then look for a mechanism(s) that make the anomalies and paradoxes go away. I do not guess, the logic of the observations/paradoxes points to the correct solution, explains what is fundamentally incorrect with the base theory. An assertion that is supported by 30 or 40 logical pillars is not a theory, it is a fact. I do not understand some/many of the details concerning the correct mechanisms, I most certainly do however understand what is or is not causing the observations, what the fundamental errors are to the base theories.
As noted before there are more than 50 different geological observations that support the assertion that as the earth’s core solidifies it expels CH4. The super high pressure expelled liquid CH4 breaks and creates pathways in the mantel. The super high pressure CH4 is the force that causes the ocean floor to separate and move. (Any other explanation as to why the ocean floor would move?) The oldest ocean floor crust is roughly 200 million years old. The ocean floor crust moves under the continents pushed by the expelled CH4 leaving CH4 under the continents as the old ocean floor is pushed down into the mantel. Some of the CH4 rises to the surface at the continental/ocean boundary which explains why there are chains of mountains at the continental/ocean floor boundary and why there are off shore oil/gas deposits near the edge of continents and at crust boundaries such as the massive middle east deposits.
The explanation as to why the 37,000 miles of undersea volcanoes erupt almost exclusively during the first six months of the year is directly connect to the sun. The earth is closest to the sun in January which causes there to be an increase in CH4 flow.
P.S. There needs to be an explanation (a physical change, something to cause what is observed, and the cause must be on the surface of the planet) as to why the geomagnetic field intensity is now dropping at 5%/decade now (The geomagnetic field intensity drop started in the 1990s and is 10 times faster than theoretically possible if the source of the geomagnetic field changes is liquid core changes) as compared to its intensity drop of 5%/century prior to the 1990s.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150205142921.htm

Seafloor volcano pulses may alter climate: Strikingly regular patterns, from weeks to eons
… A new study shows that undersea volcanoes flare up on strikingly regular cycles, ranging from two weeks to 100,000 years — and, that they erupt almost exclusively during the first six months of each year. …
…Volcanically active mid-ocean ridges crisscross earth’s seafloors like stitching on a baseball, stretching some 37,000 miles. They are the growing edges of giant tectonic plates; as lavas push out, they form new areas of seafloor, which comprise some 80 percent of the planet’s crust. Conventional wisdom holds that they erupt at a fairly constant rate–but Tolstoy finds that the ridges are actually now in a languid phase. Even at that, they produce maybe eight times more lava annually than land volcanoes.

47. Toto says:

Figure 5 could be improved. It shows one big Tidal Force arrow. Willis knows that the reason for the tidal bulges is that the gravity force on one side is bigger than the gravity force on the other side. Gravity is an inverse-square law. And since the tides result from differences in forces, the formula for Tidal Force, for those who know calculus, becomes an inverse-cube expression, as Willis shows in the Tidal Math section. This is also why the moon is more important than the sun in generating tides.
Therefore, to improve Figure 5, it should either have several tidal force arrows, or the one arrow should be shown with an arrow on both ends to show that it is a stretching force.

48. Don Easterbrook says:

The basic thesis of the paper is that tidal forces and changes in sea level produce forces large enough to substantially affect volcanic eruptions, which in turn puts more CO2 into the atmosphere to cause global warming. Let’s look first at the validity of the data used to come to these conclusions:
1. Serious questions can be raised about the extension of a very small amount of data to global scales. For example:
a. The study includes seismic data from only 10 submarine eruption sites. The total area of the seafloors of the world is 140 million square miles. Ten data sites means that the sampling density is only approximately one per every 14 million square miles. The area of the United States is about 3.8 million square miles. So imagine characterizing the geology of an area more than three times the size of the U.S. based on one sample.
2. Submarine eruptions (which we cannot see and know very little about quantitatively) are postulated to be triggered by sea level changes due to pressure release during low glacial sea levels. According to the paper, “as icecaps build on land, pressure on underlying volcanoes also builds, and eruptions are suppressed. But when warming somehow starts and the ice begins melting, pressure lets up, and eruptions surge. They belch CO2 that produces more warming, which melts more ice, which creates a self-feeding effect that tips the planet suddenly into a warm period.” “The corollary would be that undersea volcanoes do the opposite: as earth cools, sea levels may drop 100 meters, because so much water gets locked into ice. This relieves pressure on submarine volcanoes, and they erupt more. At some point, could the increased CO2 from undersea eruptions start the warming that melts the ice covering volcanoes on land?” What’s wrong with this? Well, (1) Sea level lowered about 400 feet during each Ice Age. Water weighs 62 pounds per cubic foot, so the total difference between high and low sea level is a stress of about 24,800 lbs (~12.4 tons). Basalt (the composition of sea floor lava) weighs about 188 lbs/cuft, so that’s equivalent to adding or subtracting a thickness of about 130 ft of basalt to the sea floor (that’s about the thickness of one eruption). This tiny amount is going to set off or suppress submarine eruptions? You gotta be kidding! (2) The author contends that release of CO2 from submarine eruptions will cause the global climate to warm and melt continental glaciers. But measurements of ice core CO2 show that CO2 always FOLLOWS warming so it can’t be causing the global climate to warm!
3. The author uses seismic data as a proxy for volcanic eruptions. But most of the seismic activity along sea floor plates is related to crustal movement, not volcanic eruptions. Seismic activity is NOT equivalent to volcanic eruptions!
4. The study covers only 25 years, yet he author states: “The long-term eruption data, spread over more than 700,000 years, showed that during the coldest times, when sea levels are low, undersea volcanism surges, producing visible bands of hills. When things warm up and sea levels rise to levels similar to the present, lava erupts more slowly, creating bands of lower topography.” So the author is extrapolating events for 700,000 years on the basis of 25 years of data for sea floor eruptions where we don’t even know today what the volcanic activity level is!
5. “The idea that remote gravitational forces influence volcanism is mirrored by the short-term data, says Tolstoy. She says the seismic data suggest that today, undersea volcanoes pulse to life mainly during periods that come every two weeks. That is the schedule upon which combined gravity from the moon and sun cause ocean tides to reach their lowest points, thus subtly relieving pressure on volcanoes below. Seismic signals interpreted as eruptions followed fortnightly low tides at eight out of nine study sites. Furthermore, Tolstoy found that all known modern eruptions occur from January through June. January is the month when Earth is closest to the sun, July when it is farthest.” You gotta be kidding! Sea floor volcanoes erupt every two weeks and only “from January through June. January” based on the invalid assumption that seismic activity= volcanic eruptions from one data site every 14 million square miles of virtually unknown sea floor volcanic activity!
THESE CONCLUSIONS ARE BASED ON SUCH FLIMSY AND INVALID DATA THAT CAN ONLY CATEGORIZED AS GEOFANTASY, NOT SUPPORTED BY ANY CREDIBLE DATA.

• Don:
I’m not disagreeing, just commenting.

“…4. The study covers only 25 years, yet he author states: “The long-term eruption data, spread over more than 700,000 years, showed that during the coldest times, when sea levels are low, undersea volcanism surges, producing visible bands of hills. When things warm up and sea levels rise to levels similar to the present, lava erupts more slowly, creating bands of lower topography.” So the author is extrapolating events for 700,000 years on the basis of 25 years of data for sea floor eruptions where we don’t even know today what the volcanic activity level is!…”

Though I didn’t see this addressed, I assume Maya Tolstoy dropped topography measurement claims into her sea floor rift solar influence analysis.
I know there are sea floor ‘ridges’ abutting rifts, but attributing their existence and size directly to ice ages in the midst of a solar influence paper is confusing, to me at least.

49. Tom Rowan says:

I was wondering if the massive increase in Antarctic ice mass might create enought pressure to induce volcanism in the northern hemisphere. Isnt there a large volcani range beneath the arctic? Arent most volcaniv ranges found above the equator?
Shouldnt we nuke antarctic ice, just to be on the safe side to avoid another ice age?
Somehow, New York City was once under miles of ice. Couldnt this have been caused by Antartic ice compression causing northern hemisperic volcanism, boiling seas, and Wolly Mammoths being instantly frozen solid encased in ice?
Tell it to us straight w….we are all gonna die unless we nuke antartica!

• Nah, Tom. No need to nuke Antarctica. Once the ice gets heavy enough, it will simply tip over just like Guam. 😉

50. mpainter says:

If you wish to know what causes volcanoes, consult a volcanologist, a geologist who specializes in the study of volcanoes.
If you ask him if tides cause volcanic eruptions, he will probably laugh at you.
No need to do a lot of mathematical computations to know that.

51. Agree again with you Don Easterbrook. We are frequently on the same page.

52. This just in…
“I recently emailed a tree in Australia and it told me that, after careful analysis of the Pika Extinction Derivative (PED) using two data points — well, one actually — earthquakes cause the tides.”
~ Inca Dostoevsky

53. cd says:

Most of the volcanism in the solar system is driven by tidal forces. Obviously these are much more significant and occur on geologically cold moons. So I think it is fair to assume, even if insignificant compared to tectonic forces, that tidal effects are enough (and not just those that are perceptible) to tip the balance.

• There was a large eruption on !/21/15 at Colima Mexico. There was also further activity 2 days ago. Popocatepetl also erupted several days ago.

• Alan Robertson says:

In an only slightly similar vein, Oklahoma has experienced over 70 quakes >mag 1.9 in the past 7 days, with only 1 such quake in past 24 hrs. Also, the entire planet has only had 17 quakes >mag 2.5 in past 24 hrs. which is only about half the daily average.

• The most recent example was in the weeks leading up to the recent full moon the daily 24 hour rate was around the mid 30s. Right at the end of the full moon there was a drop to 15 quakes per 24hr period. Then there is a gradual increase. I have seen this happen many times either at the Full, or during the New.

54. GMC says:

Just out of curiosity. If these 37000 miles of volcanic ridges are erupting in the first 6 months of the year and adding lava outflows to the floor of the oceans, we should be seeing a water displacement effect. Does sea level data show any change between the first 6 months and the second six months of the year? I am not sure of the quantity of lava involved but one would imagine it might be significant enough to have an effect.

• One thing I have noticed with watching the daily quake map is that the number of quakes often drops rapidly around the full moon and the mid moon points. I have seen that happen time and again over the last 4 years. The Tohoku Quake got me interested in watching the daily activity, and I have watched ever since then. The daily average numbers of worldwide quakes at the USGS map, greater than 2.5, gradually rose after the quake in Japan in the years since then.

• Thanks for the graph. That looks great.

• Well, it’s actually the product of taking the timestamps from the 30 year quake listing from USGS and pulling the ephemeris data for the Sun-Earth-Moon at that point in time. The goal was to collect enough data to point the “Moon caused quake” crowd at to let them find the proof in the data. What I got, even after backing out the apparent dwell time for the moon at various portions of it’s orbit is what is in the graph. There seems to be some uptick at the New and Full sections of the lunar phase, but the signal doesn’t really stick out far enough to be something warranting additional effort (to me). It’s just enough to possibly support that article on some Berkley researchers who came up with a San Andreas – Moon connection.
As Willis (and others) have pointed out in this article, the amount of energy change that you see from the moon is not very much at all. It may be enough to cause an “already gonna happen” quake starting a few seconds before it normally would have. The differences in scale between the two forces is quite literally astronomical. (no pun intended)
Personally, I’m in the “it’s too small to be significant” camp.
Quite a while back, I ran across a commenter who was adamant that the oceanic tides had an influence on the quakes occurring at El Hierro. In my opinion, that had a better argument since the island was inflated due to magmatic intrusion. However, the tide data for a port there didn’t show any correlation that I could find to the quake activity.
[Thank you for checking, for replying. .mod]

• One thing that I really should have mentioned on that graph, the energy is in Joules.

55. Don says:

Hi,
Everytime I see a post by you, Willis, I read it as I know it will be very informative and interesting. I am amazed at the breadth of your posts and knowledge. I believe I will start referring to you as ‘Marvin’ with “a brain the size of a planet.” (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy).

56. John F. Hultquist says:

Perihelion was on Jan. 4 (UTC) this year. During December the distance gets smaller and during January (after perihelion) the distance increases. Maybe the timing ought to be mid-Nov to mid-Feb for investigation. If closeness has anything to do with volcanism then what do May and June have to offer that Nov/Dec do not?

57. Willis Eschenbach says:

I’ve updated the graphs to include 95% confidence interval error bars.
w.

58. Robert of Texas says:

Some active volcanoes do follow a rough cyclical pattern from less to more to less activity. It has nothing to do with tidal forces; it has to do with fluids, gasses, and pressures. Think about a geyser such as Old Faithful, it has a cyclical pattern (that changes over time) but has to do with how fast the reservoir is refreshed and how fast the water takes on heat. Volcanoes sometimes have a similar mechanism to their activity.
Earthquakes might be able to trigger a volcano – they release a large amount of energy in a small amount of time.
I see no mechanism where a tidal force could act with enough force in a small amount of time to trigger much of anything. To see such a relationship would take a large amount of data over a geologic time period (i.e. millions, tens of millions, or hundred of millions of years) if it exists at all.

59. Sun Spot says:

How are atmospheric tidal effects calculated in climate modeled hypothesis.

60. Yirgach says:

Here is 16 minute Youtube of Maya Tolstoy explaining her hypothesis. There is also mention made of a confirming study of Sumatra earthquake tidal triggering by Sachiko Tanaka. That paper is here.

• Discussing how she discovered a tidal signal in the quaking of a subsea volcano, she makes an excellent point all “true believers” should note: “As a recent graduate … I didn’t know it wasn’t supposed to be there.” That is, follow the data, not the dogma. Hopefully, she will maintain that open-mindedness throughout her career.

61. masInt branch 4 C3I in is says:

A very interesting topic and still lively since the work of Love in 1909.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_tide
Nice plots on the Wiki page of the Lunar (larger) tide rising and body tide forces.
With regard to effects of tidal stress on volcanic activity is a link to a paper on Mt. Etna from 2007.
Here is well written article on Wired from 2012, revised from original published in 2011, http://www.wired.com/2012/05/on-earthquakes-eruptions-and-the-moon-eruptions-revisited/
Of course we need more measurements of much better spatial coverage and time-resolution to help get to the real answer. Not this year from looking at the Obama budget. Pity.

62. Alan Robertson says:

“The thin seafloor lithosphere in this extensional environment
70
would make seafloor volcanism much more sensitive to deformation due to eccentricity
71
compared to terrestrial settings.”
———————–
This statement lifted from Tolstoy’s paper, helps put her findings in perspective. It also becomes apparent that her forcings scenarios are not applicable in terrestrial or thicker seafloor crustal comparisons. Her speculations about volcanic response to glaciation are a reach, but nevertheless interesting.
For me, this paper concludes: “we think we have observed something interesting which may become significant as we gain the ability to study it further.”

• Lava Lank says:

Good point Alan,
Comparing thin sea floor crust with thick continental crust is like comparing a twig to a tree. They have very different intrusive/extrusive settings. Furthermore, most known volcanic eruptions are continental, on land, and related to crustal thickening. Oceanic sea floor ridge volcanism is generally related to crustal thinning and extension.
Sea floor volcanic eruptions are seldom observed and many active sea floor volcanoes have yet to be located let alone explored. How would we know what they correlate with?

63. Jerry says:

Sorry to be a nitpicker, but it should be “farthest” not “furthest”.

• Jerry,
Referring to what, exactly? Is it in the article? Where? You don’t say. ☹

• Jerry says:

Figure 5.

64. JoeH says:

Willis, I may have this totally wrong -but to me it seems that Maya Tolstoy’s whole idea is both correct and incorrect and that a very important result is overlooked. It just looks to me as though she is looking at a correct process but at the wrong end results.
Firstly: The idea of the paper must surely be correct in small form : Volcanism ( a large scale moving process) must be affected by tidal effects (a secondary large scale process that is operating within the same physical system of processes). Basic science makes this unavoidable – Vulcanism cannot NOT be affected because it is in direct contact with tidal forces – although the effect may be too small to be relevant to the main thrust of her paper. Making the paper incorrect in its current form.
However, within vulcanism there are further processes that must be affected to a much greater degree by tidal forces… vulcanism is the movement of large more or less solid materials – within which there are associated movements of lighter more mobile elements – liquids and gases – especially water and hydrocarbons.
If volcanic hydrocarbons and water can be shown to be moved by tidal forces – so that effusion occurs in greater quantities in associated cycles with these forces then the writer would have a real subject worthy of research. The time scales are also something needed to be looked at on a much greater timescale: multi-decadal and multi-centennial level, as any movements would be more likely to be produced over long time periods rather than shorter due to the repeat harmonics of tides.
If it could be shown that lighter materials did move in quantities then those quantities might even indeed produce the odd vulcanic eruption every now and then too!. In which case the writer might prove her original paper in the long term although by result of forces not included in her original paper.
I’m probably talking rubbish -but it does seem to me that she has missed the most likely process that could occur between vulcanism and tidal forces: The resultant long period, large scale tidal movement of light elements (liquids and gases) like water and hydrocarbons in volcanic zones.

65. TimTheToolMan says:

Willis writes “Now … why should this be the case, that the quakes and eruptions are NOT affected by the tidal forces?”
Expansion in one direction is compression in another and vice versa. Perhaps to be more sure, you need to take location into account too.

66. MfK says:

I’m sorry, but upon a third reading of this post, I still don’t get it. The earthquake and volcanic eruption data overlay the tidal force data to an amazingly close extent, yet you cite this as evidence that they are unrelated. It’s a non sequitur to me. What am I missing?

• The comparison is between tidal forces on all days and tidal forces on days with earthquakes.
No significant difference

• Willis Eschenbach says:

MfK February 7, 2015 at 9:51 pm

I’m sorry, but upon a third reading of this post, I still don’t get it. The earthquake and volcanic eruption data overlay the tidal force data to an amazingly close extent, yet you cite this as evidence that they are unrelated. It’s a non sequitur to me. What am I missing?

MfK, if the earthquakes were related to the tides, we’d see more earthquakes (or perhaps less) when the tidal forces were strongest or weakest. And if that were the case, the eruption data would NOT overlay the tidal force data. If there were a relationship we’d see a peak or a valley in the eruption tides that would not exist in the general tide data.
w.

67. Thanks for including madam Tolstoy’s CERN presentation, Vuc. It shows that she isn’t studying underground earthquakes as such. No, she is studying underground acoustic noise – low frequency sound sources. And, of course, she records the sounds of fluids moving around down there. To me, this has to do with seafloor hydraulic processes within a local area. Because madam Tolstoy chose a very unique location for her studies, with lots of compressible gases down there, in the cracks and crannies, she picks up a lot of noise, as that portion of the ocean floor is “hydraulically active”. So, we all know that small gas bubbles are compressible, and will therefore shrink their volume under higher pressure (read high tide), and expand their volume during low confining pressure (read low tide), it is very natural that she finds the tidal cycle.
The same actually occurs in the large Gullfaks hydrocarbon field In the North Sea. -Also that reservoir expands and contracts in concert with the tidal wave.

• Alan Robertson says:

Agreed, thanks vuk and thanks to you, Martin Hovland for the insights.

68. Willis
The mechanism for this process is to have an Earth facing coronal hole. The partial stream from the “hole” is enhanced from solar flares, regardless of their location.

69. William Astley says:

We are missing the significance/ the logical implications of the observations. The undersea lava that is produced is not affected by changes in the amount of water in the oceans and is not affected by minor gravitation changes on the planet.
1) The entire ocean floor system is moving year by year over geological time (37,000 miles of volcanoes are produce as the ocean floor crust moves apart.) Why does the ocean floor move? What is the source of the force that moves the ocean floor? Why does the force that moves the ocean floor crust increase during the first six months of each year? Why did the force that moves the ocean floor increase during the glacial phase?
The ocean floor lava occurs because something is pushing the ocean floor apart. The lava occurs due to the rate that something is pushing the ocean floor under the continents. The force (there must be a constant force to move the ocean floor crust) that is pushing the ocean floor apart is deep CH4 that is released as the core solidifies.
The super high pressure liquid CH4 breaks a path through the mantel. As I noted in the previous thread the super high pressure liquid CH4 picks up heavy metals as moves through the mantel which explains why Uranium, Thorium, Gold, and so forth are found concentrated up to a million times in the upper crust and why there are heavy metals in crude oil and black coal. The path the super high pressure CH4 creates explains why the only commercial source of helium is from oil deposits. The helium is produced as the radioactive uranium and thorium that the liquid CH4 concentrated, decays.
The helium that is produced by radioactive decay then moves up through the paths in the mantel created by the movement of the high pressure CH4. The biological theory for the origin oil cannot explain why helium is found in oil deposits. The helium gas cannot break the mantel. There are no natural pathways through the mantel. There needs to be both a mechanism to concentrate the uranium and thorium and to a mechanism to create the path way to enable the helium to move up into the oil deposit. The super high pressure liquid CH4 that is released when the core solidifies appears to be the only physical explanation for the observations.
2) The undersea volcanoes produced 8 times more lava (the sea floor moved faster under the continents) during the glacial period. The question is how large are the sources and sinks of CO2?
The undersea volcanoes produced 8 times more lava as more liquid CH4 is moving the ocean floor. As I noted it is the rate that the ocean floor is spreading apart that determines how much lava is produced.
The 8 times more lava produced means there is 8 times more CO2 emitted, yet atmospheric CO2 drops during the glacial phase rather than increases. There must be a super sink of CO2 to maintain equilibrium. As Salby notes atmospheric CO2 tracks in lagging manner planetary temperature.
There are massive amounts of CH4 moving through the mantel which is required to move the ocean floor crust under the continents. The oldest ocean floor crust is 200 million years old.
The warmists assumed that the natural sources of CO2 are small and hence assumed that the biosphere re-cycles a small input of new CO2. That assumption is not correct. There are very large natural inputs of CO2 into the biosphere from the deep liquid CH4 that is produced when the core solidifies. Salby is correct the majority of the increase in atmospheric to natural CO2 that is released not due anthropogenic CO2. I believe can definitive prove Salby is correct (I will do some work for a new thread.)
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150205142921.htm

Seafloor volcano pulses may alter climate: Strikingly regular patterns, from weeks to eons
… A new study shows that undersea volcanoes flare up on strikingly regular cycles, ranging from two weeks to 100,000 years — and, that they erupt almost exclusively during the first six months of each year. …
…Volcanically active mid-ocean ridges crisscross earth’s seafloors like stitching on a baseball, stretching some 37,000 miles. They are the growing edges of giant tectonic plates; as lavas push out, they form new areas of seafloor, which comprise some 80 percent of the planet’s crust. Conventional wisdom holds that they erupt at a fairly constant rate–but Tolstoy finds that the ridges are actually now in a languid phase. Even at that, they produce maybe eight times more lava annually than land volcanoes.
… Volcanically active mid-ocean ridges crisscross earth’s seafloors like stitching on a baseball, stretching some 37,000 miles. They are the growing edges of giant tectonic plates; as lavas push out, they form new areas of seafloor, which comprise some 80 percent of the planet’s crust. Conventional wisdom holds that they erupt at a fairly constant rate–but Tolstoy finds that the ridges are actually now in a languid phase. Even at that, they produce maybe eight times more lava annually than land volcanoes. Due to the chemistry of their magmas, the carbon dioxide they are thought to emit is currently about the same as, or perhaps a little less than, from land volcanoes — about 88 million metric tons a year. But were the undersea chains to stir even a little bit more, their CO2 output would shoot up, says Tolstoy.

• I find Tolstoy’s hypothesis regarding frequency intriguing but the hypothesis of a resulting connection to climate change (or even atmospheric CO2 levels) seems to have been gratuitous. Carbon dioxide released more than a few hundred feet below the surface should go into solution. Even if a cyclical mid-ocean ridge CO2 signal was being swamped by other undersea sites of CO2 release, if subsea CO2 was reaching the surface, it should have been detected by recent GOSAT measurements (which I believe has a “resolution” of a few ppm).
Some of the GOSAT images I have seen could be interpreted to show a very minor increase of CO2 (relative to the ocean’s CO2 sink effect elsewhere) along a N-S axis in the Atlantic. While this might be used to justify future research, in the absence of a notable CO2 spike over the ocean, I think the climate connection is without merit. Perhaps the GOSAT data releases will shed further light on the subject.

70. I am working a new document on major geophysical events and magnetic aspects (index Ap). Section EGU 2015 :
http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2015/session/18724
Relationship between major geophysical events and the planetary magnetic Ap index, from 1844 to the present
Abstract
In this study, for the first time, we compared the annual magnetic Ap index, taken from original sources,from 1844 to the present day [Svalgaard,2014], with:
i) sixteen large volcanic eruptions of index VEI5 + recorded by, Smithsonian Institute (Global Volcanism Program),
ii) three sets of the volcanic aerosols data [Ammann et.al, 2003][Gao;Chaochao;Alan Robock;Caspar Ammann,2008][Traufetter et.al,2004] and
iii) eight major earthquakes of a magnitude between 8.7<M<9.5, which occurred from 1900 to the present.
We observe that the twenty four major geophysical events which occurred were in proximity to two specific thresholds, or limits, of the annual planetary Ap index. Specifically, in the downward phase of the planetary Ap index, under the annual value of 7 or, in the phase when the annual value exceeded 22. We identified a total of 14 transitions (eight in the solar minimum and six in the solar maxima) each with a period of about two and a half years making a total of almost 35 years of activity during the 169 years under review. During the 14 transitions 18 of the 24 major historical geophysical events occurred from 1844 to the present. Analysis of data shows a clear link between the electromagnetic (EM) dynamics recorded in large historical solar minima (Maunder, Dalton or solar minimum 1880-1920), the large solar maxima (solar cycles 19, 21 & 22) and the energy released during large geophysical events [Casati,2014]. The physical process of solar-terrestrial interaction, also reveal a deep and intrinsic relationship between the EM dynamics of the inner solar system and the temporal occurrence of major geophysical events. The references in scientific literature, in support of this work, are numerous: from empirical evidence, that we find in the late nineteenth century – early twentieth century, to more recent references. Some of which are: [Casey,2010][Charvátová, 2010][Choi, 2010][Duma; Vilardo, 1998][Khachikyan et al,2014][Kolvankar,2008][Kovalyov,2014][Mazzarella;Palumbo,1989][Stothers,1989][Stˇreštik,2003][Sytinsky,1987,1989, 1998].
See my previuos documents :
http://michelecasati.altervista.org/index.html
Best regards,
Michele Casati

• Good luck Michele. I am looking forward to see full text. Your contributions in the field of geomagnetics and planetary dynamics are appreciated.

• Willis Eschenbach says:

Michele Casati, that is an interesting advertisement for your science. But without links to your data, I fear it’s just that—an advertisement, and not science at all.
But wait, it’s worse … it’s an advertisement for a product that doesn’t exist.
So I fear it is all less than meaningless to me. Come back when you have your data and code, and we can discuss it. Until then, you’re just waving your hands and declaring how brilliant you are … and indeed, you may be brilliant. But boasting about a study that doesn’t even exist at this point doesn’t establish that, quite the opposite …
w.

71. I have come up with an AP index sub 5 , occurring 99% of the time punctuated with jolts the other 1% of the time due to strong magnetic storms (k7+ or higher ) within the overall solar quiet, as a scenario which leads to an increase in geological activity. This being enhanced even more when the earth’s magnetic field is weak.

72. Willis Eschenbach says:

Salvatore Del Prete February 8, 2015 at 10:55 am

I have come up with an AP index sub 5 , occurring 99% of the time punctuated with jolts the other 1% of the time due to strong magnetic storms (k7+ or higher ) within the overall solar quiet, as a scenario which leads to an increase in geological activity. This being enhanced even more when the earth’s magnetic field is weak.

Post a link to your AP index data and I’m glad to take a look at your claim … without that link, it’s just bluster.
w.

73. Dr. Strangelove says:

IMO the influence of ice age cycles on volcanic activity is more sensible because of changes in sea level and glacier thickness. A 400 ft decrease in sea level reduces the hydrostatic pressure on undersea volcanoes. Since magma is around 2.7 times denser than water, it is equivalent to a pressure of 148 ft of magma. The potential rise in magma neglecting other factors like friction, etc.

74. DaveH says:

What about Latitude? Are there more eruption/volcanoes near the equator than at the poles (adjusting for area)? I ask because if the tidal forces are contribution to them and the tidal forces are strongest around the equator then do we see more of them?

75. Dr. Strangelove says:

I doubt tidal force can cause undersea volcanic eruptions. High tide in open ocean is about 3 ft. Since magma is 2.7 times denser and more viscous than water, the hydrostatic pressure is equal to about 1 ft of magma pressure, the potential rise in magma underground. BTW 3 ft of water is about 1.3 psi pressure. Your thumb can press harder than that.

76. TonyN says:

@Dr Strangelove
1.3 psi is indeed small, but over a wide area it can exert a considerable force.
As I understand it, a Hydrothermal vent ( aka undersea ‘volcano’) is basically a geyser or giant percolator. If the ‘eruptions’ are affected by pressure changes over the catchment area from tidal changes, then this should be observable directly.
Indeed, this is apparently so!
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1762412/

• Dr. Strangelove says:

If hydrothermal vents are continuously erupting, yes pressure changes affect flow speed. If they are dormant, I doubt tide changes can cause eruption.

77. rebeccafrank says:

Well this post gives a clear insight about how the tidal forces influence or affect the earthquake as with the one like the volcanoes. Just surprised with the proof. Thanks for sharing!!

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