Earthquakes Aren’t Affected by Phases of Moon, Time of Year

Researchers have debunked one of the most enduring myths about earthquakes: that they are influenced by the moon or the time of year. Susan Hough at the US Geological Survey found that the patterns which some have interpreted as a link between these phenomena are nothing more than jibberish: “the kinds of patterns you would get if the data are completely random.”

Mankind has been aware of earthquakes since time immemorial, but to this day, there are aspects of earthquakes we’ve yet to understand. The rumble and shake we feel at the surface is basically the release of energy coming from down below — from kilometers to tens or even hundreds of kilometers deep. This energy reaches us through seismic waves, a type of acoustic wave. In a way, you could say that earthquakes are the music of the Earth, but that music can be devastating.

An 8.6 magnitude earthquake, like the one that struck Chile in 2010, releases the same amount of energy as 10,000 atomic bombs of the kind used in World War II. Naturally, being able to reliably predict these events would be incredibly important, but this has proven impossible, and will likely continue to be impossible in the future. No, despite what some snake oil salesmen claim, no scientist has ever predicted a major earthquake. But this doesn’t mean that we can’t foresee some things about them.

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