VERIFICATION OF INSIGHTS
The cost in human life, property destruction, and societal disruption when large earthquakes occur in populated areas can be very great. Understanding the cause of these catastrophic events, to the extent of developing means for predicting them in time for evasive action to be taken, had been almost totally unsuccessful despite several decades of geophysical research toward this goal.
The realization by 1970 that most major earthquakes are produced by erratic movements of the dozen or so tectonic plates, which comprise the crust of the Earth, provided a means of long-term prediction when backed up by a century of extensive earthquake records. Buildings, dams, bridges, etc., could then be built to withstand the heavy vibrations in threatened areas. However, these data say nothing about just where and when the next shock will strike. Short-term prediction—up to a month, say—is essential for enabling evacuation and other defensive measures. For this purpose it is necessary to identify one or more precursors: ongoing environmental measurements that can signal when an earthquake is about to be triggered. Despite several decades of research throughout the world, only a few inconsistent and unreliable precursors had been found, with many false alarms. No practical means of shortterm prediction was forthcoming.
This unsolved problem appeared to be a fine candidate for intuitive inquiry. CAI’s experiment in 1975–78 employed eight expert intuitives and attempted to understand the geophysical earthquake triggering process well enough to identify one or more useful precursors.
A strong and detailed consensus agreed that there is no single cause of earthquake triggering. Rather, several multiple, interdependent factors come together and combine in various ways to create the trigger. Twelve candidate precursors were described, along with their most important features and inter- actions. Some were already known possibilities, others were known but never explored, and five were totally new.
Most unexpected was the statement that the ionosphere, the multilayered curtain of charged particles 100 to 500 km above the Earth’s surface, undergoes measurable changes above and just before major earthquakes. Such a relationship had never been suggested in seismology or even suspected by geophysicists, for their attention was focused entirely on the Earth proper. Moreover, there was no conceivable mechanism by which such a connection could exist, whether causal or merely an incidental indication.
The consensus was also clear that several unrecognized processes within the Earth, starting very deep, produce ionic particles that bleed through the crust, induce electrostatic and electromagnetic modulations in the earth’s atmosphere, and subsequently rise upward toward the ionosphere depending upon weather conditions. It was claimed that these and other electromagnetic variations occur throughout the atmosphere at different levels, frequencies, and intensities, somewhat similar to the production of lightning.
At the same time these ionospheric changes are affected by a cascade of extraterrestrial influences, initially from the heavier planets that modulate internal solar activity, thence the solar wind, thence the Earth’s magnetosphere, finally disturbing the ionosphere. The stages of this complex scenario, which are now partially and qualitatively understood (except the planetary contribution), are not directly and fully connected causally, but each adds its own dynamic influence and amplifies the overall effect. The final confluence of these internal and external ener- gies triggers the earthquake.
This intuitive description was generally credible and did not obviously contradict anything already known with certainty, but it certainly went well beyond what was already known about the individual physical phenomena that were said to intricately interact in earthquake triggering. Indeed they ranged from well below the ground to all the way into outer space.
Confirmations began to appear in the mid-1980s when earth satellites detected several anomalous shifts in the lower ionosphere, thermal “hot spots” on the earth’s surface and unexpected bursts of electromagnetic energy in the loweratmosphere, all during the hours just preceding some large shocks and in their vicinity. The three decades to follow brought further confirming evidence and initiated a new phase of earthquake research, principally a space program. It also stimulated a new geophysical search for pre-earthquake elec- tromagnetic activity in the lower and upper atmospheres and innerearth processes that also appeared to play a part.
It was obvious that, if this intuitive information had been heeded when first given, much time and effort could have been saved by directing geophysics research into the areas most likely to yield useful precursors.
A summary of this intuitive inquiry on earthquake triggering was prepared and published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration in 2012, citing the extensive accumulated evidence that had appeared in geophysical journals since 1978 for each of the 12 potential precursors. These professionally published reports confirmed at least qualitatively the novelty and accuracy of most of the intuitive insights arising in the study.
Several precursors turned out to be useless for prediction, e.g., abnormal animal behavior, eclipses and earth tides, and visible weather patterns, though research on these precursors continues. The remaining, still not fully explored today, are attractive candidates for further research on earthquake trig- gering. No direct contradictions with solid geophysical findings were encountered when the original questions had been clear and unambiguous.
Recall that the expert intuitives who participated in this study had no relevant background (or particular interest) in the subject and were not even familiar with the technical terms that sometimes arose. Nevertheless, the inquiries provided new and correct information obviously unknown to them at the time or beforehand.
Clearly, we were dealing here with an information reception process that greatly transcends traditional science and other familiar means of acquiring new knowledge. The main factors for this success appeared to be (1) the participation of intuitives who were tested and found to be expert (not so rare, as it turned out), (2) the careful inquiry protocol employed, and, of course, (3) reliance upon the natural intuitive capacity itself. Our continual preference to seek useful information rather than evidence and proof (which came only later) also distinguished this effort and may have played a positive part in making it work as well as it did.
It may be concluded that the method of intuitive inquiry is a viable option for obtaining new, accurate, and applicable scientific knowledge in the area of earthquake triggering, in geophysics as a whole and very likely in other scientific disciplines as well. Read further.