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James Berkland

Rocky was there. He stayed around home for one month, and then disappeared on the 20th of February, two days before the strongest February shake in the Bay Area. So we haven’t seem him since. Not likely to, but he fit the pattern. And from that point on I became a believer, and daily, the first thing I turned to in the paper, was the Lost and Found Column.

And I was startled this morning to see 21 missing cats, the most in one year. That probably means a significant quake within three weeks.

David: When you make a prediction, what are all the different factors that you take into account?

James: Basically, I look at the tides. So I have this tide calendar. I have the almanacs, and I get the calendars that show the daily fluctuations of the tides in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. Of course, they’re mostly peaked at the same day, although the amplitude of the tide varies tremendously as you go north. Here the normal tide is between four and four and a half feet, between high and low for a single day, the same as Los Angeles. But up in Seattle the normal tide’s about eight or nine feet, and the peak tide’s around sixteen or seventeen feet. Here the peak tides are eight or night feet, and in Alaska the high tide is thirty feet, instead of the normal fifteen or twenty. And, of course, in the Bay of Fundy, where my wife was born, 55 foot tide.

So back in 1962, I’d just been at this like three years with the animals. I noticed we were going to have a 8.9 foot tide on the ninth of January, the highest I’ve ever seen. Year after year, the highest would be 8.4, 8.5, next year it’s going to 8.3, so 8.9 is a tremendous tide. I expected we’d have a quake around here during that seismic window, and we didn’t. But back in New Brunswick on the next Bay of Fundy they had a 5.9, the strongest in 126 years. And that previous one was a time of extremely high tide. In fact, it was covered in the world literature on tides.

So that summer we went back to visit my wife’s folks, and I stopped off at the university. We were in a window there, and I was noticing the seismograph in the university hall suddenly began to bang and bang. It was a 7.0 magnitude quake in Panama, and I predicted that the world would see a 7 during that period. Normally you get one 7 a month. So if you have an 8 day period, you have a one in four chance of being right that hit the seven.

So I called the Geology Department, and the geologist came down to talk me. I said, how do you do? I’m a geologist from California, and I have an idea about timing of earthquakes in general, and yours in particular. And, he said, well, it was on the day of this 55 foot tide in the Bay of Fundy, the day of an eclipse of the moon, and these extra stresses from the tide forces we think triggered a weak place in the fault. I said, well, congratulations, that’s my same idea. I’d wish you’d come to California and talk to some of my colleagues.

David: So that’s what you think is happening. That there’s a weak point along the faults that’s just waiting to happen, and then when the extra gravitational pull comes, it gives it that extra nudge to just push it into action.

James: Yes. My clearer picture involves three factors. One is the pure fluction of this island earth up and down about three feet under the full moon. We’re pulled up about three feet higher. The earth is about. three feet greater in diameter. Maybe it’s six feet, on either side. But anyway on one side of the earth it’s about three feet higher than it was at low tide when the moon’s rising or setting. So just that fluction may cause a change. Also the ocean tide is coming in and out. Every foot of water adds a load to the earth’s crust of about one million tons per square mile.

So if you’ve got six hundred square miles of it the San Francisco Bay in the delta, and every six hours it comes in, six hundred times. Say it’s an eight foot tide, between high and low, a change of 8 X 600 X one million tons– tremendous shift of load. And boat-lines are parallel to the coast, and a tide comes on. And it’s on this block, and then it’s on the block in back there. It’s a relatively fast period. It’s like taking a wire between your fingers, especially copper, and you wiggle and wiggle it, until somewhere around wiggle ten and twenty, you get a quick friction, and you get the metal taking a pop.

David: How do you see the relationship between that and what you think the animals are picking up– which you think is a change in the magnetic field– as being related?

James: Almost any rock on earth is going to have some magnetite in it–spirel magnetic metal, the most highly magnetic natural substance on earth. If you are panning for gold, most of the black sand is magnetite– it could be chromite, franklinite or some of the spinels, which are the most magnetic materials. But they’re also dense, and very resistant. So that’s why they end up in the dregs at the bottom along with gold. The gold is quite a bit heavier, but the sand– after you wash away most the quartz and the felsbar, the micas and these layer things, you got these real dense ferrel-magnetic minerals in the bottom.

So you could run a magnet in gold pan and it’ll pull away all this magnetic material. And if you’re lucky you have a little ring of gold underneath that’s not magnetic. So if you have a rock, and you put it in a compressor in the laboratory, and you have a magnet nearby, it will change its magnetic properties under stress. And if you heat or cool it, the same thing. If you heat minerals too much they lose there magnetic force over the curri point of around 570 degrees centigrade. So that’s why you may have heard that when lava comes out of a volcano, you reverse the magnetic field, and they freeze that magnetic field within the lava.

The first work I did with the Survey was paleo-magnetic studies in Montana, Idaho, and Oregon. These lava flows are stacked up nearly flat, so obviously the ones on top are younger than the ones down below, unless you’ve had a huge unusual fault. So you go deep down in these big canyons, which may be eight thousand feet deep you know, Snake River Canyon or something. You go down deeper and deeper, and you get these older and older lava flows.

By getting samples of these rocks, and orienting them just as they are in the field when you get back to the laboratory, you can see where the magnetic field was when the lava cooled. So a recent flow of crater lakes, crater moons, or Mt. St. Helens, and you will get today’s magnetic field, but when when you get down deeper and deeper, about 700,000 years ago, all of the of the magnets were seeking south. There was definitely a shift, very rapidly. It happens within a thousand or four thousand years. So when the magnetic field goes through the null point, zero point, no ionosphere, we get an area with a tremendous amount of radiation. It causes a lot of genetic changes, and a lot of mass extinctions. New forms are created.

So there genetic changes at the time of a magnetic shift-over. Now it’s not like some people think, that whole crust shifts abruptly and brings Greenland down to the equator or something. I mean, those people are really not scientists, and they read this stuff and they think they hear about this pole shift or something, and they think the whole crust shifts. It moves slowly through plate tectonics, but it doesn’t shift thousands of miles in a week, or whatever they may think. So but then it shifts back, the deeper you go, the further back in time. The pole has shifted periodically.

It’s not that weird when you realize that on the sun, the magnetic poles shift every two sun spot cycles, about every 22 years. So it just takes longer for the earth, but it’s not nearly as accurate. But it’s a real phenomena. And then in-between the pole is slowly moving around, so you have to adjust your compass. Here, I guess was around 18 degrees, which 23 years ago was only about 17 and a half degrees, I think a declamation between true north and magnetic north. If you go to Egypt, magnetic and true north are the same, so you don’t have to make any adjustment, which explains partly why they could build the pyramids exactly north-south and east-west. The Sphinx is facing due east at the rising sun on the first day of summer.

So the magnetic field is a very important aspect. Now, I have an old compass– this is a compass here from Frigit, the Japanese Navy. See this compass. North is right there, and it hasn’t shifted from the north. Well, I expect that it can, because I was getting calls from some kind of a furniture factory or something, a fellow up in Aptos. He had a big captain’s compass in his study, set it exactly north, and he’d notice it’d be off a half a degree or up to a degree and a half.

He reported that to the U.S.G.S., and they finally said, don’t bother us with that, there’s absolutely nothing to it. The reverse magnetic field does not change that much. They told him that he must have bumped his compass. He said, I’m the only one who lives there, I don’t bump it. But I saw the change, and it would go back to normal after the quake. So he started calling me, and he hit about four out of five. So I know there’s a local change in the magnetic field prior to quakes, and it can be read.

Now I also have an item that was sent to me Christmas time of 1974 called a “Magnetic Stress Indicator”. It was done by a fellow who just died early this year, back in Missouri. If we line this up with the seven, so we know we’re looking at it, we can see it’s about a 7.3, around in there. Okay, it was originally at 6 when I first set it up, and it sat here for two or three weeks, did nothing. I said, bad place. Or it just doesn’t work, as it looked like just kind of a phony-looking contraption anyway. All of a sudden it went from 6 to 6.4, and the next day up to 6.6, and the next day it dropped back to 6.5. That night we had a earthquake

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