Well, it looks like some other folks have started to discover the Moon / Earthquake / Volcanism / Weather connections.
We’ve got earthquakes well established as precursors to volcanic activity (even special modes of tremor that say ‘real soon now’ when the harmonic tremor gets rolling).
We’ve got major quakes in subduction zones several years prior to melt causing major volcanic eruptions as an understood modality.
We’ve got the weather tied to volcanic activity with generalized cooling and lots of condensation nuclei.
(We’re going to ignore the ‘earthquake weather’ thesis as it isn’t well proven – despite frequent observations of it)
In Santa Clara, a local geologist uses lunar phase and perigee to predict quakes, and predicted the Loma Prieta quake (aka the San Francisco Superbowl quake). (Jim Berkland’s site.)
There is even a very long term cyclical tie between the long cycle lunar motions and weather, including a 1500-1800 year cyclical oscillation of the lunar orbit (shades of that 1470 year +/- 250 year Bond Event Cycle…)
So I’m not surprised to see that someone has “suddenly” discovered a lunar connection to volcanoes. This story is from a while back (i.e. not news) but I just ran into it while looking up the historical dates of Etna and Vesuvius eruptions. (Yes, I’m looking to see if it’s about time for Vesuvius to get active again. Not the little burps of lately, but a big one…) So I ran into this National Geographic article.
While I have to give them kudos for their voyage of personal discovery and have to praise National Geographic for publishing it: the article is Yet Another “Eureka! I found it!” when others have had the idea and been talking about it for generations. So: “Good for you, you caught up with The Ancients who frequently talked about earthquakes and volcanoes in the same breath and talked about the heavens driving events on earth.” Oh, and dozens of other folks who have for a very long time postulated tidal flexing of the crust as causing all sorts of geologic events.
With that said, they do show a nice bit of ‘wiggle matching’ work with real data on a real volcano. They also had the bright idea to look at a very active volcano and measure it in ‘real time’ (i.e. not just looking for giant eruptions in rock layers). So they have proven the connection in that short term lunar motions modulate ongoing activity in very active minor volcanoes. That still leaves the “leap” to longer cycles setting off larger volcanic breaks.
The Article (warning: I got an ‘undertone’ pop up add when I first visited, just rapidly hit the bottom of the page, click on page 2, then back to page 1, and it ought to be gone without the need to click the close box and let them tally a ‘you looked!’. Due to the offensive pop up, I’ll be quoting more here than I normally would so folks don’t really have to hit the link):
Are Volcanic Eruptions Tied to Lunar Cycle?
For National Geographic News
February 15, 2002
The horrors unleashed by the recent eruption of Congo’s Mount Nyiragongo have demonstrated once again our uneasy relationship with the fires that rage below Earth’s surface.
Note that date, 2002. So a decade ago.
There then follows a colorful description of folks being fried by the volcano… then the sciency part begins:
If predicting eruptions is a confusing puzzle, volcano hunters Steve and Donna O’Meara believe that they may have identified a key piece. The husband-and-wife team are investigating a connection that some volcano watchers have noted since early times, but none has adequately studied—the role of the moon in affecting volcanic activity.
The O’Mearas’ interest in this lunar theory began by chance back in 1996, while the duo was studying an erupting volcano in the field. Steve is an astronomer by training, and it was his experience in this seemingly unrelated field that led him to a fateful discovery.
At least they do note that other folks have noticed this “since early times”… but the ‘sellers puff’ on their discovery is still a bit thick.
While compiling detailed journals of his scientific observations, he began to notice a correlation between increasing volcanic activity and lunar cycles. Pouring through stacks of data he had collected over twenty years in the field, Steve examined past eruptions and saw some of the same patterns. Further research suggested that a lunar pattern was also apparent in some famous historic eruptions, such as Krakatoa in 1883.
Other observers throughout history had noted the possibility of such a connection, but always as a footnote, and always when looking back at eruptions that had already occurred. No one had given the matter comprehensive study, and no one had attempted to employ these lunar patterns as one of the tools to predict future volcanic eruptions.
Stromboli, a Volcanic Hotspot
Supported by the National Geographic Society, the husband-and-wife team set out to test just that possibility at one of Earth’s volcanic hotspots, the summit of Stromboli on Italy’s Aeolian Islands.
So the big claim to fame is that he’s going to use it to ‘predict’? As though other folks failed to note that lunar cycles are completely predictable? Gee, yet another “State the obvious and claim it is a discovery”… Oh, and make it the body of the ‘work’ so as to really lay claim. Sigh. Yes, I understand the need for ‘sellers puff’ and self glorification, even if I can’t bring myself to indulge in it. But really, the bit that is important the bit for which they ought to be claiming credit, is the idea of looking at a highly active volcano and measuring it to do the very good wiggle match to a lunar prediction. That’s the really juicy bit.
There then follows a description of Stromboli as such a frequently active little spit ball. Then back to the work:
Although living conditions on Stromboli left much to be desired, the climate was ideal for research because of the continually active eruptions and the occurrence of several important lunar events. The moon entered some important phases during the team’s time on Stromboli. In the 14-day span of observations the moon reached perigee (the point when its orbit is nearest the Earth) and also experienced a full moon phase. The full moon is a point at which the moon exerts particularly great influence on the Earth, as evidenced by high tides.
The team’s task was to determine when the greatest peaks in eruption activity occurred, and what connection the increased activity might have with the moon’s gravitational pull. Following the patterns they had seen in the past, the O’Mearas predicted that during the volcano’s ongoing eruptions, there would be peaks in volcanic activity at perigee and at full moon. In this case, events bore out that hypothesis and in fact the greatest spike in volcanic activity occurred at a point in time just between full moon and perigee.
Page 2 then has the caveats about volcanoes being chaotic events and not being able to just say “Full moon – volcanoes erupt” about any old volcano.
I also would have liked a longer set of observations, but this was a 2 week National Geographic paid vacation to Stromboli to make some good stories and video footage, not a ‘just the facts, gather all you can’ research effort. I’m sure they had plenty of volcano activity records for other times to look at ‘back in the lab on the internet’…
But it’s nice to see someone actually did it.
All we need now is a really good set of total volcanic activity, a nice set of lunar influence graphs (including all the cycles up to the 1500 year / 5000 year range) and a whole lot of fancy statistical wiggle matching to prove what has been known for millenia: The moon has a strong influence on events on earth, including the geologic ones.
(From a paper that is dated 2000. “Accepted February 2, 2000.
Copyright © The National Academy of Sciences” link below)
Next thing you know, they might even start to think that the Sun has an impact as it changes. Heck, some day they might even “discover” that the planetary motions and orbital resonance ties all those influences together so “they all come together when they come”… and that it is no accident that volcanoes and cold times happen together with periods of low solar activity and high cosmic ray counts / increased clouds. Oh, and that those Taurid Meteor swarms arriving in a resonant timing interval is also no accident, being part of that same orbital resonance game…
I think I need to get a whole lot better at understanding and explaining Orbital Resonance and revisit that question of Spin Orbital Momentum coupling.
But still, it’s nice to have confirmation for a real time prediction of volcano modulation via lunar position / gravity / tides; and see it confirmed.
(Footnote on quotes: As an educational non-profit use, extensive quotations fall under USA “Fair Use” doctrine.)