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Earthquake Prediction

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Date Host Art Bell

Jim Berkland was Art's guest this show for all 5 hours, discussing his techniques of earthquake prediction, and answering caller questions. Berkland studied geology at the University of California, earning the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1958. He then worked for the US Geological Survey while pursuing graduate study. In 1964, he took a position at the United States Bureau of Reclamation. After further graduate study, he taught for a year at Appalachian State University, then returned to California to work as County Geologist for Santa Clara County from 1973 until he retired in 1994.

Berkland's earthquake predictions have been either self-published in his newsletter or website, or announced in various interviews or speaking engagements. His notoriety arose from an interview published in the Gilroy Dispatch, where he predicted that an earthquake with a magnitude between 3.5 and 6.0 would occur in the San Francisco Bay Area between October 14 and October 21. The 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake occurred on October 17, just four days later. Berkland claims that government officials told him not to make any more predictions, fearing mass panic, and he was suspended for two months from his Santa Clara County geology position in late October, 1989.

Predicting earthquakes since the 1970s, Berkland said that his method has not been described in the scientific literature (he claims because of censorship and a conspiracy of prejudicial reviewers). In 1990, he described the "Seismic Window Theory" as correlating gravitational stresses with earthquakes - referring to the tidal stresses in the Earth resulting from the gravitational pull of the moon, especially at lunar perigee, when the moon is closest to the Earth. He detailed three main processes: (1) the solid earth tide that deforms the Earth's crust, (2) oceanic tides, and (3) ground water pressure. Since 1979 he has also subscribed to a theory that pets often react prior to earthquakes by running away, which he measures by monitoring the lost-and-found ads in several newspapers. He claimed that ads for missing animals "increase dramatically by up to 300-400%" prior to earthquakes.

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