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James Berkland

that’s fair. You know, give it a test.

David. What’s the most common criticism that you receive, and how do you respond to it?

James: That earthquakes happen every day, and it’s easy to predict them. And I say, it depends on the magnitude you’re talking about. Here’s the statistical data I have– all the quakes between 1963 and 1977 from the year 1979 by the U.S.G.S.. I did a hand count, and saw one 3.5 every 35 days, and one 3.0 every 18 days. Most of those quakes are really aftershocks following a main event, so its hard to pick the timing of a quake if you don’t have something consistent. And the something consistent is the periodicity of the tides.

I found the same phenomena in a book called The Earth by Ellis A. Leacluot, which I discovered in an old second hand bookstore. It has some beautiful etchings, and they showed the Ring of Fire. It was just a thing of interest in 1872. There actually was a French edition in the 1860’s. Finally, when I got this idea about quakes, I suddenly saw this book up there, and I said, I wonder what he thought about earthquakes? Well, the study of the earthquakes, even those small earthquakes only detectable through the delicate instruments of USA de Bailey, seem to occur at the time of the syzygies, especially when the moon is close to the earth, that’s perigee. My idea– 100 years before I had it. And he also talked about continental drift, the Ring of Fire, and the relationship between earthquakes and volcanoes.

He spoke of the age of the earth in terms of billions of years, and said that the drift and debris found around the poles in the northern or southern hemisphere was not the result of a universal flood. It was the result of radiation. He supposedly had about five 20th Century developments that he had developed in the 1860’s and 70’s, and was almost totally ignored. His books were burned by the French mainly. He hated Napoleon III so much that he took arms on the side of Russia against Napoleon III, and was captured in the first battle. His books were burned. Luckily I found one. But they didn’t even have a copy of it in the U.S.G.S.. So I wrote a paper about him, and the tremendous contributions he had made. But Ellis A. Reclue’s name has been reclusive. In fact, Alfred Regner is given credit for talking about continental drift in 1912 or so. Then he pursued it until he died on a Greenland ice cap the year I was born– 1930.

Bregner never mentioned Ellis A. Reclue fifty years earlier. Could it be because he was French versus German? Could it be that he was just totally ignorant? But how could it be? Ellis A. Reclue was called the French Darwin, and was considered to be the most prolific writer in the history of mathematical physical science. But because of his persona non grata status he doesn’t get any credit. So in this paper that I wrote I mentioned all these things he had done and how.

Just as the earth changes through a charming drapery of foliage over the years, so the earth herself has her seasons. Through the slow lapse of the ages, the continents and the cities change their positions on the surface of the earth. He had it all down. So I write about it in Geology magazine. Three or four months later somebody else talks about the creators of continental drift, and he doesn’t even mention his name. His book should be reprinted. I’ve got my copy around here. So his ideas outlived him, without correcting most of his critics. But they still never named him for his achievements, and that’s a real shame.

David: Have you heard people say that moments right before an earthquake in a forest all the animals- birds and insects- get completely silent, and everything gets really quiet and still.

James: Sure. Oh yeah, that’s very common. I hear that all the time prior to Loma Prieta. They said there was a deathly silence. That people just suddenly say, what’s happening? And it’s nothing. (laughter)

David: What do you think is causing that?

James: I think there’s a confirmatory signal. The first signal ends up a week or two in advance for a moderate quake, but three weeks in advance for a biggie. You were familiar the Stanford professor that set up instruments near Aptos to detect natural ground signals, in order for us to communicate with his nuclear submarine fleet 200 feet below the surface. Once you go about ten feet below the surface of the water normal radio waves are hopeless. So by extremely high powered, very low frequency waves, you can get through the oceans and communicate with their nuclear submarines.

So in order to find when the maximum interference periods would be because of radar or whatever, they went to a remote area of the Santa Cruz mountains, coincidentally about five miles away from the epicenter. They installed these instruments, and had current coming in there to record continuously. And about two months before Loma Prieta this background full rose up to a secondary plateau, and when the quake happened it knocked off the power. So he went rushing up to what his instrument was like, and he was amazed to see that about three hours before the jolt it went off scale. It got nothing for a couple of days. He turned it back on it, just as the aftershocks and settling down occurred.

So it’s the first solid evidence of these extremely low-frequency waves associated with quakes. But Tony Fraser-Smith at Stanford has been very resistant to take a strong position on this. He’s like, well, it’s probably coincidental, but we’ll continue to study this. I’m sure, deep down inside he feels this is very real.

David: These are low-frequency waves. That’s what I saw in that Science paper two weeks ago.

James: ELS, Extremely Low-Frequency waves. Oh, this was known for years before by Marsha Adams.

David: She’s on my list of people to interview.

James: Yeah, okay, you’ll have a problem with her. She used to be very open, and I used to communicate all the time with her. Our predictions would match time after time. She would get extremely low frequency signals, and I’d get my animal changes. And if I get high tide coming then I’ll make my prediction. Then about six or eight years ago she got some private funding, and everything has become proprietary. You can’t get the time of day really anymore. I can’t. It’s very unfortunate, because who benefits? Science is not benefiting. The populace is not benefiting.

They keep this secret just like those deaths in 1906. 1 could see it. If I had been the county geologist in San Francisco county, and the president or Governor Pardy or Mayor Schmitts comes to me and said, Jim, this is a terrible terrible accident and a tragedy, do you think it’ll happen again in ten years? No. Fifty years? Maybe. A hundred years? Probably. Well, it’s a long time away. We have to look to the living, and to encourage people to invest and to rebuild. It’s a very important part of the country, and there’s just a remote chance of it reoccurring this soon. It’s not going to help anybody. So let’s put this in time capsule, and open it up in 25 years, so future people can know about what really happened, not that nothing happened in terms of deaths or very little.

In fact, it was emphasized by William Randolph Hearst back in New York American had about the quake. It’s three hours later there. So he called his staff in and said, they had this terrible quake in San Francisco, but don’t overplay it. They get quakes there all the time. Besides, it was the fire that did most of the damage, and a fire can happen to the best run city. So they showed a picture of the Baltimore fire of 1902 on the front page. (laughter) Yeah, so they downplayed it.

What put me on to that was reading several things in the 1907 Whitiker’s Almanac in England- April 18, San Francisco was visited by a frightful earthquake that caused more than sixty million pounds damage, five bucks a pound, pretty close to four or five hundred million dollars. But more monumental was the loss of several thousand lives, and I read that in this old almanac and I felt potentially outraged. What do they think we are, some kind of a banana republic? I know the facts. I’ve had ten years of college, and I know that only a few hundred died there. What are are those English telling us that we lost thousands- hah.

And then I ran into a great international disaster book, that said that in Iran in 1968 they had a 7 magnitude quake, and it said at least six thousand people were killed. There were some reports that 18,000 or more were killed, which may be true, but we’ll never know due the reluctance of the Iranian government to admit to shoddy construction. Now, I said, I don’t have a problem with that, it sounds perfectly logical. But when they tell us we lost that many, well, I wonder what the truth is. So I went to library, and I said, have you got a microfilm of 1906?

Oh, earthquake time huh? And I said, yeah, I think there was a coverup of the deaths. Oh. So I get there, and start cranking through. There’s April 24th, and there’s this article in The New York Times by one of the reporters, James Randall of Buffalo, New York. In the first column, interviewed in Kansas, Topeka, he said, any talk of mere hundreds being killed is ridiculous. As anyone would tell you that was there, he said, I saw several hotels and apartment houses, each with several hundred in them, totally collapse, and only one or scattering of people got out, and everything burned up right away.

So nobody could prove what happened. The military had it all under Marshall Law. They moved out 220,000 people, about half the population, anybody left that was idle there was put work hauling rubble and bodies. The temperatures had hit 2700 degrees fahrenheit, and totally burned up anything there. It melted cast iron, nails fused together. So there was nothing left, and it became very easy to ignore all of those thousands that died. The thing that gripes me is that they continue to this

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