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Etho-Geological Forecasting

than humans  do, it seems reasonable to suggest than some animals may be reacting to  the smell of unpleasant gases released from the bowels of the earth  prior to earthquakes. Animals have also been reported to act frightened  before volcanic eruptions, which provides further evidence for this notion.

We know that the nose of a dog Is about a million times more sensitive  than that of a human, and some insects (such as the silk moth) have  extraordinary sensing abilities. For example, at mating time the female  silk moth produces less than a millionth of a gram of sex attractant,  which Is distributed by the wind. A male, with its hypersensitive  antenna, can receive the mating signal from as far as seven miles away.  A single attractant molecule is enough to arouse his attention. A few  sexy molecules are all it takes to move the insect into purposeful  action, and-off he goes In hot pursuit of the female.

However, although some species are far more sensitive to olfactory  stimuli than we are, others, like songbirds, are less sensitive, and  there doesn’t seem to be a correlation between an animals’ sense of  smell and their sensitivity to earthquakes. There also isn’t any  evidence that earthquakes are generally preceded by the leaking of gases out of the earth. Even If such gases are released through tiny,  newly-created cracks in the earth’s surface before earthquakes, then why do animals not respond with fear when when they burrow through the  ground? Likewise, why don’t animals panic when people dig holes, or  stumble upon gas-filled cavities? Why do songbirds–who are otherwise so indifferent to odors–sometimes become so excited prior to an  earthquake? And how could dogs possibly tolerate the air pollution of  cities without panicking as they often do before earthquakes?

It seems unlikely that the smell of unpleasant gases Is a primary factor In what causes the unusual pre-earthquake behaviors. However, since some organisms respond to changes in the polarity and concentration of  atmospheric ions, it has been suggested that this sensitivity enables  certain animals to detect the air-Ionizing effects of radon released  from the ground in advance of certain earthquakes. The effects of radon  gas on the level of air ionization can also be expected to change the  electric field gradient, and dozens of animals (including humans) have  been shown to be sensitive to changes In the electric field gradient of  the atmosphere. (Chalmers, 1967) This Is discussed in more detail In the upcoming section on electric fields.

Magnetic Field Theory Another candidate for the underlying cause of unusual animal behavior  prior to earthquakes is fluctuations In the earth’s magnetic field.  Because some animals have a sensitivity to variations In the earth’s  magnetic field (usually as a means of orientation), and since variations in the magnetic field occur near the epicenters of earthquakes (Chapman  and Bartels, 1940), it has been suggested that this is what the animals  are picking up on. Reactions to weak magnetic fields have been shown to  exist in bacteria, termites, beetles, and fish (Barnothy, 1969), so the  possibility can not be dismissed that some animals may occasionally  recognize the magnetic-field changes of 1-100 gamma that sometimes  appear before earthquakes.

However, it is unlikely that magnetic fields alone are the sole cause of unusual pre-earthquake behavior, as experiments have shown that magnetic field disturbances cause confusion in animals at worst, not the fear and panic that has been witnessed prior to earthquakes. Also, magnetic field changes usually appear much too early before an earthquake (sometimes  months before), and the magnetic field variations to which animals would normally be exposed to-because of day-to-night variations and frequent  magnetic storms in the ionosphere–are at least as great as those  variations associated with earthquakes. But magnetic field variations  may be part of what animals are responding to, as electromagnetic  signals are strongly associated with earthquakes. Extending the field of study beyond just magnetism into electromagnetism–which covers a wider  sphere of Influence–may be key to understanding what Is occurring with  these animals.

Marsha Adams, at the Time Research Institute in San Francisco, developed sensors that measure low-frequency electromagnetic signals, which, she  says, allow her to predict earthquakes with over 90% accuracy. Adams set up a network of electromagnetic sensors along some of the major  faultlines in California, and from the input she receives–which Is  analyzed by specialized computer software–she issues weekly earthquake  forecasts. Adams suspects that low-frequency electromagnetic  signals-created by the fracturing of crystalline rock deep In the earth  along fault lines can have biological consequences, and that her  Instruments are picking up the same signals that sensitive animals do.

As a result of this technology–which is supported by private  subscription, not public funds–Adams says that her system makes unusual animal behavior observations obsolete. However, since It has not been  clearly determined what it Is that the animals are picking up on,  complete confidence in the electromagnetic sensors may be premature, and Adams’ 90% accuracy claim hasn’t been confirmed by an Independent study.

As part of my research with Dr. Sheldrake we subscribed to Adams’  earthquake prediction service for four months. Since there weren’t any  earthquakes during this period we can’t confirm her accuracy rating.  However, she didn’t make any false predictions. Adams’ work deserves  more serious attention, and further support for her belief Is provided  in the section below on electrical field theory.

Electrical Field Theory:

As we discussed at the beginning of this section, fish are known to have a high degree of sensitivity to variations in electric fields, and this  appears to be an important clue for understanding how animals react to  pre-earthquake signals. The surface of the earth has a constant  electrical field, and because telluric current variations (natural  electric currents flowing near the earth’s surface) have also been noted before some earthquakes, It has been suggested that this may be what the fish are reacting to. (Ulomov and Malashev, 1971) To test this  hypothesis, Motoll Ikeya and his colleagues at Osaka University in  Japan, have done numerous studies where they exposed a variety of  animals–including minnows, catfish, eels, and earthworms–to a weak  electrical field.

Ikeya’s laboratory experiments were conducted to see if exposure to a  weak electrical field could elicit the pre-earthquake animal  behaviors-what the Japanese call Seismic Animal Anomalous Behavior  (SAAB). Ikeya’s experiments produced interesting results. Fish showed  panic reactions (Ikeya et al, 1996), and earthworms moved out of the  soil and swarmed when the current was applied. (Ikeya et al, 1998)  Unlike their American counterparts, some Japanese researchers take SAAB  research quite seriously. A group of Japanese researchers have even gone so far as to do genetic experiments, to see If they can find specific  genes that encode for a sensitivity to pre-earthquake signals, which  would make some animal breeds more sensitive than others. (However,  these studies by Individual Japanese scientists do not necessarily  reflect the general attitude of most contemporary seismologists In  Japan. When I Interviewed Professor Junzo Kasahara–a prominent  geophysicist at the Earthquake Prediction Research Institute at the  University of Tokyo–he told me that most seismologists in Japan don’t  take the SAAB research that seriously.)

Tributsch, the author of When the Snakes Awake, has suggested that a  piezoelectric effect may be responsible for triggering the  pre-earthquake behaviors in animals, and this explanation seems  significantly more plausible than the ultrasound and gas-leaking  theories described above. This theory makes sense because of the  following facts. When certain crystals-such as quartz-are arranged in a  way that pressure is applied along particular portions of the crystal’s  axes, the distribution of positive and negative ions can shift slightly.

In this way pressure changes to produce electrical charging of the  crystal’s surfaces. On the average, the earth’s crust consists of 15%  quartz, and in certain areas it can be as high as 55%.

According to Tributsch, the piezoelectric effect of the quartz Is  capable of generating enough electrical energy to account for the  creation of airborne ions before and during an earthquake. This  electrostatic charging of aerosol particles may be what the animals are  reacting to. Since some animals have also been observed acting  frightened prior to thunderstorms, and are known to flee areas, or show  signs of distress before a storm arrives, it may be that they have  evolved a sensitivity to electrical changes In their environment.

The Nervous System and Electric Fields:

Some people say that they feel an uncomfortable pressure in their head,  or a persistent headache that lasts for weeks, which suddenly vanishes  moments before an earthquake strikes. Because magnetite has been found 

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