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There's earthquakes in the wind.

There's earthquakes in the wind

Southern Californians would love to find some way of knowing a month in advance whether a damaging earthquake will likely strike. One meteorologist suggests atmospheric pressure patterns might provide some clue. Jerome Namias of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif., proposed this idea in 1988 when he reported that an unusually strong high-pressure system developed in the North Pacific before quakes struck southern California in 1986 and 1987 (SN:5/7/88, p.299). Now Namias has greatly expanded his analysis by studying the summers between 1947 and 1987.

From a list of all southern California earthquakes with magnitudes of 4.5 or greater during that period, Namias picked out the summers with many quakes and those with no quakes. His analysis of the meteorology during these summers shows that quakes were more likely under a particular set of conditions: a stronger-than-normal North Pacific high pressure, a low-pressure trough over the far western United States and a high-pressure ridge over the continental interior. Summers with no quakes usually had a weak Pacific high and a poorly developed continental high, he reports in the Dec. 10 JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH. Namias cannot explain the apparent correlation between pressure and seismicity, but he speculates that variations in seafloor pressure or in seasurface temperature might influence both the atmospheric pressure and the ground stress in California.
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Title Annotation:earthquakes and atmospheric pressure patterns
Publication:Science News
Date:Jan 20, 1990
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