The Twilight Zone:
Aches to Quakes [part one]
Sensitives Predict Earthquakes
Larry Park, a senior computer engineer and holder of patents for earthquake prediction, was first drawn to mysterious energy bursts that affected super computers in Northern California through the energy grid in 1993. He has found mysterious Earth signals, precursors to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, that can be detected by "sensitives" whose physical symptoms can provide accurate warnings. Meanwhile, new technologies are being developed that can tune into these subtle energies.
Physical Symptoms and Advance Warnings
In the past five years, Suzanne Smart has endured two CAT scans, two EEGs, one audiogram and a host of other medical tests by specialists seeking to determine why she suffered from rare and mysterious migraines, screeching ear tones and intense ear pain. After a big earthquake, the symptoms would disappear.
"For years my family thought I was experiencing phantom symptoms," Suzanne said. "They encouraged me to seek medical advice."
After the litany of sophisticated tests, her doctor concluded her to be normal and healthy.
"Initially, I did tolerate a bit of ridicule and was the subject of many jokes over the past few years," she said. "I have been rather careful in whom I choose to engage in conversation on this subject. I generally only communicate with other sensitives," remarked Suzanne.
Such is the life of individuals who experience physical symptoms prior to earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. After initial ridicule and disbelief by others, a more powerful drive makes these sensitives seek to make their plight known to science. It is the guilt of killer earthquakes.
"The worst effect I've ever suffered as a sensitive has not been from the precursor symptoms I detect, but from the insecurity associated with my inability to know exactly where the epicentre is and the exact day and time," said Suzanne. "The reality is, sometimes people are going to die and sometimes there's very little if anything you can do about it."
Sensitives feel a responsibility to try to save the thousands of potential victims before the quake strikes. Afterwards comes a sense of guilt.
Family members started to believe when they found Suzanne's prediction accuracy remarkable. "However, lately they have occasionally and quietly asked me if I'm picking up anything for certain locations, particularly if it happens to be a vacation destination they are travelling to," she said.
Suzanne's doctor is now encouraging her. "At my last visit about a month ago [November 2005], she actually said that she thought it 'really neat' that I could hear these tones and experience these symptoms and try to use [them] to predict earthquakes to save lives," Suzanne said.
Reliable Predictions from Ear Tones
Another "sensitive" is Petra Challus in northern California. Petra is out to show science that earthquakes can be reliably predicted by human body symptoms. She communicates with and coordinates a group of sensitives, who all experience internal "ear tones" prior to an earthquake, to help triangulate the epicentre. Undaunted by some seismologists' reactions to this research, Petra is determined and she is full of energy.
"My least favourite response to my reports of hearing this sound in person occurs when the person I'm speaking to leans their head back, thinks for a second, rolls their eyes and then says it's not possible," said Petra in an email. "Then I ask them to check my prediction record and they still don't believe it's possible to predict earthquakes by sound." Petra continued: "For the most part, even when I have made very accurate predictions, they normally say that I'm guessing despite giving clear details and accurate parameters on all of the required specifics, i.e., date, place and magnitude."
Petra issued a prediction prior to the Parkfield, California, earthquake of September 27, 2004. "In the late afternoon on 9/27/04, I heard a five-second right-ear tone. It had an earthy quality to it, and due to mapping for quite some time I knew this sound belonged to Parkfield, California," said Petra. "I had never heard a sound like that for Parkfield before, so I wasn't sure what the highest magnitude might be. So I set it at 4.8 and issued a public prediction on 9/27/04 at 8:54 pm," she added.
"The resulting earthquake was the long-awaited 6.0 occurring on 9/28/04 at 10:15 am, 11 hours after I made my prediction," she said. "This earthquake was expected for 38 years by scientists, and not one of their instruments detected anything prior to the earthquake. To date, I have not received credit from any of the Parkfield scientists for doing what they could not do with a budget in excess of $40 million and 38 years of research."
Petra is refining the predictive formula behind the mysterious emissions that cause the internal sensation of ear tones. She has found a formula that helps identify how far distant the epicentre will be located. The magnitude 6.8 Nisqually, Washington, earthquake of February 28, 2001, was the key to realisation of the formula.
"The most dramatic event I have experienced was hearing a 20-second left-ear tone on 02/28/01. This occurred two hours prior to the 02/28/01 10:55 am Nisqually 6.8 earthquake," Petra wrote. "I heard a very loud, highly electrical sound, much like one might imagine sound travelling through a fiber optic wire. On a scale of 1 to 5, this sound was easily a five. It was the loudest sound I've heard in six years," she said.
"Though I had no time to predict the earthquake prior to its occurrence, it was as a result of this event that I finally understood that by counting the seconds heard by the ear tone recipient, it measured the distance to the earthquake at 37.70 miles per second. This was the greatest breakthrough in predicting earthquakes using the method," she said. "Today, for ease in mapping, I use 37.5 miles per second of sound heard."
Petra Challus has found some scientists interested in her research. Her ear-tone-sensitive group is participating in a study to determine the viability of her method.
"Our most promising time was last month [December 2005] when we had one miss and only one report expire [a prediction without a quake]," said Petra. "For us, that is phenomenal."
Below is a recent map of ear tone rings to earthquake research plots from Petra Challus. The circle centre represents the location of the sensitive at the time of sensing the ear tone. The size of the circle represents the distance formula applied to the duration of tone. The colour code of the circle represents the particular person and the tonal direction sensed by the person in the research group. All predictions are documented prior to the earthquake(s).
Perhaps the most dramatic type of sensitive is one who can feel the earthquake's rolling precursory waves as sensations and can determine from which direction they are coming. Sandy Awerkamp in southern California is one of these "roller wave" sensitives, and her accuracy is uncanny.
"Back in '97 I was still trying to figure out why these movements, which I now call waves, increase every time we are close to having a major earthquake," said Sandy. "After a couple of years of taking notes and correlating them to earthquakes, I knew then that these waves were in fact correlated."
"The most dramatic by far was the Northridge earthquake [January 17, 1994, M6.7] because of the lives that were lost," Sandy continued. "The Friday prior to the quake, my day had ended at work and I was about ready to walk out the door when I paused for a moment because I had gotten more dizzy. As I stood there for a second, my receptionist asked me what was wrong and I blurted out, 'You're going to think I'm crazy but LA is going to have a large quake within the next few days and the quake is going to be different.'
"She of course laughed at me, but she asked me how I knew and what I meant by saying a 'different' earthquake. I didn't know how to explain it to her that I get really dizzy before large earthquakes, but this time it was a dizzy feeling of being pushed hard from north of us, which pointed to LA," she said.
"The following day after the earthquake I returned to work and I was greeted by her, saying 'Get away from me, psycho woman!' The look on her face and what she said made me realise from that day on that it really scared her and now she didn't look at me as the same person," said Sandy.
"Months prior to the Hector earthquake [October 16, 1999, M7.0], I got my first computer and found a website where you could post predictions. It was the night of the Hector Mine earthquake that I posted my first public prediction calling for within 32 miles of Big Bear, 6+ magnitude, and within 24 hours. The instructions said that if you didn't put in a percentage it was considered 100%, so I didn't put a percentage in," she said. "That morning when we were jolted out of bed, I was fighting back tears."
Sandy continued: "The emotions at first were excited yet scared, because I finally made it public and I wasn't sure how people would accept it. Those emotions shortly turned into being mad, because people were congratulating me by saying 'Nice hit!'. I didn't know how to respond to that because, in my eyes, predicting an earthquake isn't something to be proud of."
With her accuracy proven, Sandy is concerned with how others deal with information prior to a potential killer quake. She trusts her family with the information. "My family will periodically ask if there will be any earthquakes soon, but I ask them to keep any information to themselves because I know they can handle it and won't panic."
Sandy has concluded that posting her predictions isn't the way to go. "I've realised that posting predictions on a website isn't going to prove anything to the scientific world, so the last few years I have focused more on finding someone who has the right instruments that can detect these waves."
Earth Emissions Are Real
For the past few years, I have studied and compared Sandy's sensing ability with specialised instruments that indeed see these waves prior to earthquakes.1 Sandy exceeds the performance of the sensors by a factor of 100. She can sense and follow the directional emissions of the waves as they travel up and down the San Andreas fault, even though she is at a distance near southern Los Angeles. It has taken 13 years of development at Terra Research to create specialised electronic sensors that can detect the presence of these mysterious emissions, yet Sandy can easily point to an area and state the nature of the waves—whether "roller" or "jerky" waves—and the magnitude of the pending earthquake. I continue to marvel at the human body in how it can react to stimuli.
In part two of this article, Larry Park explores the nature of the mysterious Earth signals and how we can learn to understand their nature.
Click to read part two of Aches to Quakes.