STATE OF THE EARTH SPECIAL REPORT: Monday, 26 September, 2022
Will Jupiter Make the Earth Quake?
At about 0400 Universal Time on Monday September 26, 2022 (or 10 PM Sunday the 25th Eastern Daylight Time) Jupiter and the Earth will be closer together than the two planets have been since 1963 – nearly 60 years ago! There is a similar “close approach” roughly every 13 months as the two planets make their way around the Sun over and over again, but since our orbits are elliptical and not perfect circles, the distance at each close approach can vary considerably from year to year.
This time around Jupiter will be at “opposition” on the same day. Opposition simply means that the Earth will be directly in between Jupiter and the Sun for a bit. Precisely aligned for just a brief moment, but more or less in line for several days — or several weeks, or even for a few months, depending on how precisely you care to define “aligned”. An opposition occurs on every orbital cycle too, but opposition and close approach don’t always occur on the same day. This time around, however, all the factors have combined to bring Earth and Jupiter about as close together as they ever get.
Jupiter is, of course, the biggest planet in our solar system. In fact, the mass of Jupiter is more than twice the mass of all the other planets put together! Therefore Jupiter wields a gravitational force second only to the Sun itself in this little part of the galaxy. Jupiter’s gravitational pull is often credited with helping to protect the Earth from collisions with asteroids, meteors, comets, etc., by pulling many of these potential impactors into its own gaseous atmosphere before they can get close enough to do our planet any harm.
On the other hand, there have been some notable attempts to blame Jupiter’s gravitational influence for such things as earthquakes, volcanic activity, and solar flares. In 1974, science writers John Gribbin and Stephen Plagemann wrote a book entitled THE JUPITER EFFECT: The Planets as Triggers of Devastating Earthquakes, in which they proposed that an especially unusual alignment of planets that would be forthcoming in 1982 was going to produce a massive earthquake along the infamous San Andreas Fault in California. Their book was a best seller and it caused quite a stir at the time, but the earthquake they predicted didn’t happen…at least not when and where they said it would.
Most scientists will tell you that Jupiter’s gravity, or even the combined pull of all the planets’ gravitational powers coming together in some extraordinary alignment, would not produce any significant effects on the surface of the Earth because the planets are so far away that their gravitational impact is negligible on us. But negligible does not mean none at all, and the authors of The Jupiter Effect proposed a work-around theory whereby the planetary alignment of 1982 would create a gravitational pull sufficient to produce major disturbances on the Sun. The Sun, being a gaseous body of churning plasma, would be more subject to small changes in gravitational fields than the solid Earth and therefore, so the theory went, massive Solar Flares would erupt and these flares would, in turn, be responsible for triggering the devastating earthquakes mentioned in the book’s subtitle.
After California failed to fall into the ocean on the predicted date, Gribbin and Plagemann published a second book called THE JUPITER EFFECT RECONSIDERED, which was actually the same book but with a
different Preface and Afterword in which they made the case that their underlying theory was still correct but they had simply got the timing wrong. Their second book did not become a bestseller, and in later years the authors have disavowed themselves from their controversial claims … but is it just barely possible there might be something to the Jupiter Effect theory after all?
During the past few weeks there definitely seems to have been an uptick in both solar activity and seismic events on Earth. Could it be that the Jupiter Effect is not so tightly bound to the exact timing of planetary alignments but that it works over a more generalized “close enough” scenario? In other words, more like a slow-burning fuse rather than a trigger?
A glance at the chart reproduced here with permission from the website volcanodiscovery.com clearly shows that the overall Seismic Activity Level since July 1 has increased significantly within the past 2-3 weeks. This uptick coincides quite well with Jupiter and the Earth’s slow but steady progression towards each other for today’s close approach:
Activity so far today, the day of Jupiter’s exact opposition, has not been exceptional – but who says the cause-effect relationship has to be so perfectly timed? To get a better perspective on the matter I decided to look into the earthquake history for 1963 – the last year that Jupiter and the Earth had been this close together. A little research revealed that the date of that close encounter was October 8, and what I learned about earthquakes in 1963 was very interesting:
I found that 17 Earthquakes of Magnitude 7 or greater had been recorded in 1963. The strongest earthquake of that year was an 8.5 powerhouse that struck the Kuril Islands in Russia on October 13 – just five days after Jupiter’s closest approach. A 7.8 quake struck the same area exactly a week later, and an 8.1 struck Indonesia on November 4, about one Lunar month after Jupiter and the Earth had made their pass. All in all, out of 17 earthquakes greater than Mag 7 in 1963, 11 of them came
between August 15 and December 18 – or within about two months one way or the other of Earth’s close approach to Jupiter on October 8, 1963.
The six strongest earthquakes of 1963 all came within that +/- two month time frame, and 5 of the 17 biggies happened within just 3 weeks of October 8. (It might also be worth noting that there were no 7.0 or greater quakes recorded in May, June, or July of that year.)
A look at recent earthquake data from the USGS reveals that we’ve had 3 earthquakes greater than 7.0 since September 10, and numerous quakes greater than 6.0 within the last few weeks leading up to our current brush with Jupiter. I will try to continue my analysis of a possible Jupiter-Earthquake connection, but if I wanted to stick my neck out with a prediction based on what I’ve learned today, I would suggest that we might expect a quake near or above Magnitude 8.0 within the next three weeks.
Stay tuned for updates . . .