so they didn’t have wait there and watch it all the time, which is great for the middle of the night, vacations, and so forth.
So this two and a half hour gap on August the 1st was the longest they’d ever seen. Then later on, when I was up there they had a two hour and fifteen minute gap, and then they had a 5.8 quake up at Bishop. It seems that their geyser is sensitive to quakes between the northern border and about the 36th parallel, which is just about from Monterey up to Bishop, and but not south of there. I am convinced that it was very active up until the extreme rainfall of 1982-83, and then it seemed to flood it out, eased its sensitivity, and I haven’t any confidence in her since.
But anyway, by 1980 1 called her at noontime on the 7th of November, and I said, Olga how’s your geyser doing? We got the new moon, and the most missing cats I’ve ever seen. And she said, Jim, I was about to call you. This morning there was three hour and twelve minute gap, the longest we’ve ever had by far. The previous record was two and a half hours. And I said, uh oh, it looks like a big one for Northern California. And she said, that’s what we think. I said, I’m going to call the U.S.G.S. and predict it. She said, if you don’t, we’re going to. So I hung up, and I told my assistant to pick up the extension phone if you want to hear how you make a prediction.
Up until then I was a member of Earthquake Watch, which was set up by the U.S.G.S.. They had a contract with SRI to check missing or strange animal behavior, to try to do what the Chinese did for four years. They had up to eighteen hundred volunteer observers watching wild animals pets, and domestic animals. And for the first time I used that 800 line to make a prediction. I said, normally I would just say, oh, the dogs howled all night, or we had twelve missing cats, or something like, and let them draw their own conclusions. But this time three really separate things were pointing in the same direction, with discreet kinds of information. So, I said, based on these three factors, I believe there’s going to be a 6.5 or better in Northern California within a week. I recorded that on Friday at noon.
The next morning, at about 2:30, a 7.2 hit Eureka, about 150 miles north of the geyser, convinced me that this was really a sensitive phenomenon. So on Monday I called the U.S.G.S., the SRI guys– Dr. Otis and Dr. Kautz, who were the two running it. And I said, hey, did you listen to that tape? I’m on there. I predicted this quake, the first 7 magnitude quake I think ever predicted in the country. Oh Jim, we’re not in the earthquake prediction business, we’re in the animal observation business. And I said, okay. They could file these away. Just advancing science, learning
So at the end of the year you normally got a print-up of your transcripts on these taped phone conversations. The previous two years I’d gotten very nice printouts. I talked about that, and sure enough this quake happened, and that one happened. So I actually went and typed it
all up, and I sent in the results of my calls, which I hadn’t to them predicted quakes. But I had elsewhere, and it fit the theories. And in this case I didn’t get my transcripts.
So in July of 1981 1 call them. I said, did you mail out transcripts this year? Oh Jim, we mailed them out in February or March. You should have had them long ago. And I said, well, I didn’t and that’s why I’m calling. Oh, I’ll check into that. Nothing happened. So August I called again. Oh yeah, I meant to check on that. I will Jim. So about two or three days later I got a phone call. It looks it looks like the computer just overlooked you. We’ll send those along. And I said, fine. So a few days later I get nine of my ten transcripts. The tenth one was the one in which I made the prediction of this major quake.
So I call them and say, thank you for what you sent me, but what about that critical one where I predicted the Eureka quake? Oh, I don’t know. We’ll look into it Jim. So about a month later, almost a year after the prediction, I called again. I wasn’t really trying to harass anyone, but every so often I’d think, hey, what did they do with it? So I called them, and I got hold of a very carefully prepared secretary, I’m sure of it. They stayed up nights. Oh, Mr. Berkland, I believe your call was on that tape we lost in the mail. Oh, how many have you lost in the mail in your four years of operation? Well, that’s the only one, and I don’t understand it, because I remember wrapping it so carefully in Styrofoam.
What a memory– after a year– about a particular envelope. Where did he mail it to? Menlo Park to Palo Alto. Well, such a long distance. You could skid across the border you know. Oh, you could see how you could lose a tape there. No way they lost that tape. They thought that the documentation of the first prediction of a major quake in this country was lost. They didn’t know I had my assistant on the extension phone, who heard the whole thing, and wrote a very nice supportive letter for me. Plus the people at the geyser know that I was going to make that prediction.
So then I knew I was up against deceit. This is not science, and not scientific, but I’m afraid it’s marked an awful lot of past science, and probably future science as well. Of all the bureaucratic bullshit, and scientific censorship in this day and age, I can’t believe this going on. Maybe someday people will be more open. So that was my awakening. And I said, I don’t need this. I’ll do it on my own.
David: I studied neuroscience in graduate school because of my curiosity in the brain and consciousness. I went in with the assumption that the universe was about 99% mysterious, and about 1% understood. I was amazed to discover that most of my professors believed the reverse to be true, and that we would have the final 1% figured out by the end of the year.
James: That was my attitude through high school and college until I got to Berkeley. I always thought that all the answers were in the right book, or in somebody’s head. But when I got to submarine canyons, and started going into that and seeing the motions involved in each theory, I said, hey, there’s things out there to find and discover. Really, that was the first time I realized that there was all this science waiting to be developed, and that really got interested. That’s one of the reasons I was so glad I got into geology, because there was so many aspects that effected daily life, the future, and the past.
A children’s hospital was looking at a case where a younger girl had lost the tip of her finger, like when kids put their hands under a lawn mower. Usually they would treat it, clean it, put gauze on it for two days, then they would have the wound closed by microsurgery. Now somehow this little girl got lost in the computer, or whatever they had there in the sixties, and after like ten days they said, oh my God, we’ve forgotten her. She came in saying, aren’t you going to do anything with this? She still had the original dressing on it. So they pull off the dressing, and the finger bone and flesh are regrowing. They continue to observe it, and it regrew with nail and all. There was not a sign that this had ever happened.
David: How far down was it?
James: To the first knuckle. It would never work below the first knuckle, and you had to be no more than eleven years old for it to regrow. They’ve done it hundreds of times since they picked it up. So finally New York Children’s Hospital there picked up on it, and they’re so confident now that if a kid comes in, and the finger’s just dangling, they just snip it off, and wait for it to regrow.
Probably the most intriguing thing about animals and quakes came to my attention just before I had to address the Santa Clara County Surgical Society. They had their Christmas dinner in 1989 after the quake. I was still suspended at this time, so I was looking for any kind of income. So they offered to give me $500 to come and talk to the surgeon’s group, and videotape the whole thing. Well, just before, in November, I was starting to get calls from this lady near Watsonville, very close to the San Andreas fault. She had a little toy poodle that was a fastidious extremely intelligent animal, and he had a big Offish setter as a companion. He just ordered this big dog around you know. It was, I guess, kind of comical. But the little dog got to sleep on the bed every night.
About a week before Loma Prieta the little dog and the big dog disappeared. They were gone, and had never disappeared all day before. They came back before sunset, and the little dog was absolutely coated with mud. He had this just forlorn expression in its eyes. The big dog was fine. So she washes the dog, shampoos and dries him, and he’s back on the bed that night. Next day he’s gone again, and comes back muddy. Okay, this time you suffer. She spent all night in the garage whimpering. The next day she took pity and washed him up again. A day or so later, gone again. Comes back muddy. Then the quake happened. He seemed okay for a week or so, and then before some of the larger aftershocks, he did the same routine. She said what is going on with this dog? I said, I don’t know.
You know sometimes dogs will immerse themselves in mud if they have to draw wounds. It’s a curing thing. But she just kept calling me, and she had most of the larger earthquakes. It was very reliable. Then one day just before I was leaving she called me and said, today he came back, and I thought I was losing him. He was convulsing on the ground, chocking and gasping, and he’s muddy all over. Finally, I open up his mouth, and I pull out a three or four inch long willow stick in his throat. What is going on? And I said, well I’ll have to think about that one.
So I was driving home, and I had just gotten to about the driveway, when suddenly I’m click, click, click. I had botany in class in