Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Earthquakes, Moonquakes, Pandemics, and the Solar Cycle

Benjamin Deniston et al. (2012) - Several studies have pointed to a correlation between earthquake activity and the 11 year solar cycle, e.g. in 2011 Jusoh Mohamad Huzaimy and Kiyohumi Yumoto, two researchers out of Kyushu University, Japan, took the 4,108 large, shallow earthquakes from 1963-2010, and compared them with the phases of the last four solar cycles. What they showed was that for each magnitude range there were consistently more earthquakes during the declining phase of the solar cycle through solar minimum, when compared with the ascending phase through the solar maximum. This discrepancy was most pronounced for the largest earthquakes. 

Percentage of shallow earthquakes by magnitude occurring during the solar minimum and descending half
of the solar cycle, or during the solar maximum and ascending half of the solar cycle. Analysis of the
last 4 complete solar cycles from 1964-2008, indicated by monthly average of sunspots.

The last decade, which contained the longest solar minimum of the century, also saw the most magnitude 8.0+ earthquakes and the greatest number of large volcanic eruptions for any decade over the past century. These relations should cause us to consider what types of similar activity might be occurring on other bodies of our solar system. Unfortunately, the best data we have is from the eight years during which we had operational seismometers on the Moon (1969-1977, left behind from some of the Apollo missions). During this operational window, out of the thousands of registered lunar seismic events, only 28 of them originated below the lunar surface (for example, not due to surface impacts by meteorites), and have been identified as “shallow moonquakes.” Their very existence is a mystery, as there are no active plate tectonics on the Moon. 

The decade by decade totals of “great” earthquakes (magnitude 8.0 and above), and large volcanic
eruptions, measuring a VEI 4 or greater (VEI = Volcanic Explosivity Index). Source USGS Earthquake
Hazard Program, Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program.

What is remarkable is that 23 of thoe 28 moonquakes occurred during the half of the Moon’s orbit when the near side of the Moon (on which the seismometers were placed) was facing a specific direction relative to the fixed stars, indicating a relationship not even to solar activity, but, as Yosio Nakamura, a world expert on lunar seismic activity and the author of the study says, to something originating outside of our solar system.

23 of the 28 moonquakes recorded from 1969 to 1977 occurred when the Moon occupied the half of the lunar
orbit in which the seismic network on the Moon’s near side faced towards a certain direction in the fixed
stars. This suggests a yet unknown influence coming from outside the solar system.

There is also long-standing evidence showing that the incidence of diseases fluctuates with the Earth-Sun relationship. The most well known of these fluctuations is the seasonal flu pandemic. None of the conventional explanations for why influenza flares up during the northern hemisphere winter (environmental humidity, vitamin D deficiency, etc.) has yet been validated, yet the seasonal variations are very real. Further, this cycle of seasonal outbreaks is also a cycle of the evolution of the virus itself, a phenomenon which has not been explained by the standard models of mutation and selection. This seasonal variation would seem to imply a relationship between influenza outbreaks and the location of our planet with respect to the Sun. In fact, looking beyond the yearly variations, the major flu pandemics of the past century exhibit an interesting pattern: the dates were 1946, 1957, 1968, and 1977, which imply a period of roughly 11 years, provocatively matching the sunspot cycle over this period. Taking this back farther, if we map the major flu pandemics against the cycles of sunspot numbers for the last 300 years we get the following plot. 

The 1946, 1957, 1968, and 1977 pandemics shown over the last 6 solar cycles.

Pandemics occur in clusters. If we connect the sunspot peaks, which indicate how solar activity changes from one cycle to the next, then we see that the pandemic clusters occur during periods of more active successive solar cycles. An initial hypothesis might be that such a correlation implies a relationship between some solar parameter, such as ultraviolet radiation, and influenza pandemics. Notable exceptions to this correlation — specifically, the cases where pandemics fall on years of sunspot minima — point to a causal agent on a grander scale. Researcher Yu Zhen-Dong has shown evidence that pandemics occurring during solar minima show a close coincidence with bright supernovae and other sources of ground-level cosmic radiation. This implies a galactic rather than solar driver of the phenomenon, with cosmic radiation influx from outside of our solar system as the main culprit, rather than incident solar UV radiation. That is, the changes associated with solar activity are likely rather caused by the Sun’s well-known role in moderating the influx of cosmic radiation into our solar system.

Laith M. Karim and Marwa H. Abbas (2014):
The Relation between Influenza Pandemics and Solar Activity.
Pandemic influenza mapped against sunspot number and nova occurrences
(mostly flare-ups of our near neighbor Nova η Carinae) for the past 300 years.