The Christchurch Quake Conspiracy (plural) – Part Nine – Ken Ring’s Successful Opinion?

As many of you will now know, there was a major earthquake in Christchurch, Te Wai Pounamu (the South Island of what is commonly known as “New Zealand”) today and supporters of Ken Ring are claiming their belief in his lunar system has been vindicated because of this:

It means ths area of the sun that corresponds to NZ is again seeing some activation. The window of 15-25 February should be potent for all types of tidal action, not only kingtides but cyclone development and ground movement. The 18th may be especially prone. The possible earthquake risk areas are N/S faults until after 16 February, then E/W faults until 23rd. The moon will be full on the 18th and in perigee on the 19th. This perigee will be the fifth closest for the year. The 15th will be nodal for the moon. On the 20th the moon crosses the equator heading south. Strong winds and swells may arrive around 22nd to NZ shorelines.

Now, I’m already find that people are asking me what I think of this, and you’ll find some of that discussion going on here in the comments of an earlier post.

I will, if I get the time (I am busy finishing my thesis, you see) write something more substantive on this, but I do want to note one thing. Ring writes:

For an earthquake to occur many factors have to come together, but sun activity, full moon and perigee are arguably the most potent, and they are all starting to chime now. Over the next 10 days a 7+ earthquake somewhere is very likely.

Note that he is talking about a 7+ earthquake. I don’t want to dismiss just how bad today’s quake has been, but it’s just a 6.3. I say “just” here because the Richter Scale is a curious thing; it is logarithmic. The difference between a 6.3 quake and something in 7s is huge; a 7-point quake is ten times as powerful as a 6-point quake. Not only that but the frequency of a 7-point quake is about 12 a year compared to the 180 6-point quakes we normally expect.

Ring predicted a much more unique and dangerous event than the one that occurred, which is yet another good reason to treat this prediction as not being much chop. It’s no minor difference or a point that we can quibble about; what Ring predicted is not what occurred today in Christchurch

But, of course, Ring doesn’t claim these are predictions; they are, according to him:

These are opinions and not predictions…

Buyer beware.

About Matthew Dentith

Matthew Dentith wrote his PhD on epistemic issues surrounding belief in conspiracy theories. He is a frequent media commentator on the weird and the wonderful, both locally and internationally. On occasion he can be caught dreaming about wax lions but, mostly, it is rumoured he works for elements of the New World Order.
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16 Responses to The Christchurch Quake Conspiracy (plural) – Part Nine – Ken Ring’s Successful Opinion?

  1. Jack says:

    Just so you know that you say a 7 is 10 times bigger than a 6 magnitude earthquake. I experienced both and I’d have to say February 22 felt much much bigger and if you listen to the reports on t.v you’d know the recorded shaking in Christchurch itself was twice that of September’s. Possibly that is want Ken was talking about. The magnitude is not the only factor in an earthquakes strength but its deep is just as important. Maybe you should only comment on things you know about…

  2. Mike says:

    “Not only that but the frequency of a 7-point quake is about 12 a year compared to the 180 6-point quakes we normally expect.”

    That is misleading, those figures are more appropriate for the whole planet.

    In the New Zealand region (according to Geo Net) a 6.x event is on average around 2 a year and a 7+ event around 1 every 3 years.

    http://www.geonet.org.nz/earthquake/earthquake-facts-and-statistics.html

    I would hope you revise your post to ensure you arent guilty of spinning facts to suit a position? … something you quite rightly highlight about those you critique?

  3. Jeffrey says:

    I find your statements rather frustrating. Although they promise to be scientific they just appear to be opinion and rhetoric, like Mr King’s. If you’re serious about showing that his predictions are incorrect why not do so? I haven’t been to his site lately so I’m assuming that you’re quoting him accurately and in context. If he says “15-25 February should be potent for all types of tidal action, not only kingtides but cyclone development and ground movement” that has some merit in that the full moon occurred Feb 18 9:36 pm NZDT although it looks questionably broad to me, but I know little of the actual lunar phase effect on the strength of a tide. There was certainly some “ground movement” on 22 Feb, but the 10 day range given by Mr Ring is next to useless as a prediction because I can’t stay away from work every time he makes such a generalisation or I’d soon be sacked! (But I can confirm that the ground really did move and was thankful to God that it was only 6.3 and that my family are still alive too.) As to cyclones, were there any in the NZ region in that period? On 22 Feb Cyclone Atu was headed to “pass quite close to East Cape but far enough away avoid bringing severe weather to New Zealand”. So that’s probably an irrelevant event and may be a regular occurrence anyway – I don’t know, but that’s for you to check if you’re serious about debunking Mr Ring. Again, have we had “strong winds and swells” – I can’t recall any severe weather reports, but may have missed them with the news reporting focus on the earthquake. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_tide on king tides and http://www.rasnz.org.nz/SolarSys/lunarphases.html on moon phase dates and http://www.voxy.co.nz/national/weather-watch-22-february-2011/5/82783 on Cyclone Atu.)

  4. Jeffrey says:

    Just for clarification, my previous comment included the quote that Cyclone Atu would “pass quite close to East Cape but far enough away avoid bringing severe weather to New Zealand”. That comes from http://www.voxy.co.nz, a weather-reporting site, not from Mr Ring’s weather-predicting site, which is an entirely different category of “information”. The voxy site was the best that I found on a brief search for information on actual cyclones in the NZ region over the period 15-25 Feb to determine whether Mr Ring is accurate or not. My impression is that Ring’s prediction on cyclones was not borne out in that period. But I’d like to hear from a meteorologist on the matter.

  5. vance says:

    strong gales and huge swells in Nelson 23rd and 24th Feb

  6. KJ says:

    you seem very anxious to discredit mr Ring at all costs.

    with that, you lose your objectivity.

    whether Ring labels his statements as “opinions” or “predictions” should not matter.

    what does count, is that he correctly identified a danger period for seismic activity from the 18th of February to 25th of February 2011. he has been correct that the Moon’s perigee has corresponded with significant tremors in the Canterbury region since the end of August 2010.

    and what clinches it for me is his statement: “The possible earthquake risk areas are … E/W faults until the 23rd.”

    people should be learning more about Mr Ring’s techniques and helping him to refine them.

    keeping an open mind is important when it is possible that more refined and precise earthquake prediction techniques could be helpful to humanity.

  7. melita says:

    i have only just found out about ken ring, u seem to really dislike thd work hes doing!! well maybe its time now to start looking at things with a more open mind? :-)

  8. GrantB says:

    KJ says “he correctly identified a danger period for seismic activity from the 18th of February to 25th of February 2011″.

    Wrong on two counts.

    1) He didn’t predict an earthquake, but “all types of tidal action, not only kingtides but cyclone development and ground movement..”. In other words he was trying to cover almost anything anywhere in the world.

    2) He actually predicted earthquakes around Feb 3rd, Feb 6th, Feb 13th, Feb 18th, 19th, 21st, 25th. Spot which day was missing?

    That’s right; he did *not* predict an earthquake on the day that it actually happened (the 22nd). That’s seven days out of a 28 day month to hide in fear.. and still miss the day of the quake. He also predicts 6 in March, 8 days in May… so basically it is the same as me predicting that major events will occur on days beginning with T or S.. I will be right on occasions and people will forget all the other days that don’t match.

    See here from KR’s own site: http://www.predictweather.com/ArticleShow.aspx?ID=329&type=home

  9. RB says:

    Looks like ths times are UTC in that table. NZ is +13 hours with daylight saving making it the 22nd here and still the 21st UTC (just).

    “It is a global estimation and so you should add and subtract 1-day for error, to account for UTC and local time variations”

  10. CM says:

    While a contested theory, there are credible geophysicists and others who have published statistical correlations between lunar tides or solar winds and certain kinds of earthquakes in certain places – including shallow, and not all of them minor. Some research suggests increased effect for these tides/winds working in conjunction. This research is available online via Google Scholar. I think Ring is probably drawing on these concepts, and has deluded himself into thinking he’s figured out a pattern that allows him to predict events. As others have noted, if you cast a wide enough net you’ll occasionally catch some fish… but who knows!

    That said, the theory that internal pressures created by extreme tidal events, when combined with additional pressures from solar activity, may potentially trigger earthquakes on weak faults or in areas where pressure is already built up due to previous ground movement, would seem to bear further consideration at least. Whether such work will lead to accurate prediction is another issue. Like others, I am deeply sceptical of Ring’s claims but wish there could be a more open discussion of the general concepts he’s getting at, by actual scientists doing relevant research in the areas he’s drawing on – not GNS lackeys who are blinkered by their narrow specialisation.

    See below for a few examples of recent work suggesting (perhaps minor) associations between earthquakes, tides, and solar activity.

    S Tanaka, M Ohtake… 2004 Tidal triggering of earthquakes in Japan related to the regional tectonic stress, Earth Planets and Space, – zisin.geophys.tohoku.ac.jp

    Sachiko Tanaka, et al (2002) Evidence for tidal triggering of earthquakes as revealed from statistical analysis of global data, JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 107, 2211, 11 PP. doi:10.1029/2001JB001577

    Elizabeth S. Cochran1,*, et al 2004: Earth Tides Can Trigger Shallow Thrust Fault Earthquakes
    Science Vol. 306 no. 5699 pp. 1164-1166, DOI: 10.1126/science.1103961

    G. Anagnostopoulos, et al,(2010) Solar wind triggering of geomagnetic disturbances and strong (M>6.8) earthquakes during the November – December 2004 period. Arxiv preprint arXiv

    S.D. Odintsov, et al 2007, published in Izvestiya Rossiiskoi Akademii Nauk. Seriya Fizicheskaya, 2007, Vol. 71, No. 4, pp. 608–610.

  11. I think the post to read, if you’re concerned about whether Ring’s assertion that lunar tides cause earthquakes, is this one. It pretty much demolishes Ring’s hypothesis about earthquakes in one foul swoop.

  12. CM says:

    You’re right, a sciblog ‘analysis’ by someone who doesn’t actually *have* a PhD yet is a far superior source of information on this matter than the studies I’ve cited, particularly since they are only published in disreputable double blind peer reviewed journals. What was I thinking? Blogs are always so authoritative.

    Might I suggest you and others actually read some of the *research* on the effects of lunar and solar pressures and their triggering effect before being so quick to dismiss the theory out of hand? Yes, Ring’s “predictions” are very likely completely bogus, but there is a key point to be made in the case of Christchurch: we now know the faults in the area are very unstable, and tension is building and being released in an ongoing manner via aftershocks. This is the situation where other pressures that come to bear could *potentially* exert a triggering effect, particularly if amplified by each other – king tides in conjunction with solar storms, etc. There is some evidence to support the general associations he is alluding to, even if he is way off beam in trying to apply it. It is this scientific evidence and what it could mean in the particular circumstances currently affecting ChCh that should be the focus of careful consideration, not debunking Ring for the sake of it.

  13. CM says:

    Oh, and I see he’s doing a PhD in evolutionally genetics to boot – yep, clearly an authority on the matter. Who needs geophysicists when you’ve got an evolutionary geneticist at hand.

  14. One: the analysis uses a data-set obtained from a qualified expert.

    Two: the analysis tests the very hypothesis Ring claims links earthquakes with the lunar cycle.

    It’s all very nice that some researchers are looking into the slight effect the moon has on the earth’s crust, but that is not the debate that is going on; the question is whether Ring’s prediction should be taken seriously. The actual system Ring proposes is testable, given the available data. Might I recommend you actually read the analysis I cited and, if you can find fault with its methodology, comment on that fault? His methodology is clearly laid out and is a fairly standard gloss on Bayes Theorem.

  15. Kane says:

    Firstly, the logarithmic scale used in measuring the magnitude (dispersed energy) of an earthquake is not base 10, it is base 32.
    So, it is correct that the overall energy released was substantially less than on Sept 4th. However, as Jack quite rightly points out, the effect on Christchurch was much, much greater due to the proximity, shallowness and alluvial soil in the Christchurch area (potentially in combination with seismic lensing).

  16. Fraser says:

    Hey Jack. The only reson the 22 february felt stronger than 4 september was because it was way more shallow and closer to chch city.

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