Powerful eruptions on the Sun might trigger earthquakes

Posted: July 17, 2020 by oldbrew in Earthquakes, research, solar system dynamics
Tags: , ,

Solar flare erupting from a sunspot [image credit: space.com]

The idea being proposed is described as a reverse piezo-electrical effect.
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Ground-shaking earthquakes occur all across the globe. And according to a new study, many of them might be triggered by the Sun, says Astronomy.com.

Through decades of research, scientists have learned that large, powerful earthquakes commonly occur in groups, not in random patterns. But exactly why has so far remained a mystery.

Now, new research, published July 13 in Scientific Reviews, asserts the first strong — though still disputed — evidence that powerful eruptions on the Sun can trigger mass earthquake events on Earth.

“Large earthquakes all around the world are not evenly distributed … there is some correlation among them,” says Giuseppe De Natale, research director at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Rome and co-author of the new study. “We have tested the hypothesis that solar activity can influence the worldwide [occurrence of earthquakes].”

A solar origin for earthquakes

To the unaided eye, the Sun might seem relatively docile. But our star is constantly bombarding the solar system with vast amounts of energy and particles in the form of the solar wind.

Sometimes, however, formidable eruptions on the Sun’s surface cause coronal mass ejections, or especially energetic floods of particles — including ions and electrons — that careen through the solar system at breakneck speeds. When they reach Earth, these charged particles can interfere with satellites, and under extreme circumstances, take down power grids.

The new research suggests that particles from powerful eruptions like this — specifically, the positively charged ions — might be responsible for triggering groups of strong earthquakes.

Earthquakes typically occur when rocks grind past one another as Earth’s tectonic plates shift and jostle for position. When the intense friction that’s locking plates together is overcome, the rocks break, releasing tremendous amounts of energy and shaking the ground.

But scientists have also noticed a pattern in some large earthquakes around the planet: they tend to occur in groups, not at random. This suggests there may be some global phenomenon that’s triggering these worldwide earthquake parties. And though many researchers have done statistical studies to try to determine a cause before, no compelling theories have yet been rigorously proven.

So, to tackle the lingering mystery, the researchers of this latest study combed through 20 years of data on both earthquakes and solar activity, searching for any possible correlations. Specifically, the team used data from NASA-ESA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite, compiling measurements of protons (positively charged particles) that come from the Sun and wash over our planet.

SOHO, which is located 900,000 miles (1.45 million kilometers) from Earth, keeps its sights set on the Sun, which helps scientists track how much solar material ends up striking our planet.

By comparing the ISC-GEM Global Instrumental Earthquake Catalogue — a historical record of strong earthquakes — to SOHO data, the scientists noticed more strong earthquakes occurred when the number and velocities of incoming solar protons increased.

Specifically, when protons streaming from the Sun peaked, there was a spike in quakes above magnitude 5.6 for the next 24 hours.

“This statistical test of the hypothesis is very significant,” De Natale says. “The probability that it’s just by chance that we observe this, is very, very low — less than 1 in 100,000.”

A piezoelectrical origin for earthquakes

After noticing the correlation between solar proton flux and strong earthquakes, the researchers went on to propose a possible explanation: a mechanism called the reverse piezoelectric effect.

Full article here.
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From the Conclusions section of the research:
‘This paper gives the first, strongly statistically significant, evidence for a high correlation between large worldwide earthquakes and the proton density near the magnetosphere, due to the solar wind.’

  1. Jim says:

    Umm? Interesting. Another subset. Another name change. Interesting. A correlation is not a cause. Their are many causes for earthquakes. This is one of the activators. Not all. It’s a good read on one of the causes, but too finite. Limited by the scope.

  2. Gamecock says:

    They tortured the data until it told them what they wanted.

    A noble effort, it held out for 20 years.

  3. pochas94 says:

    Much more plausible to me is that changes in the gravity gradient across the sun/earth cause both solar flares and earthly crustal deformation. IIRC studies have shown that flares tend to appear on the solar surface below a transiting orbiting body.

  4. oldbrew says:

    The piezoelectric effect is a reversible process in that the direct piezoelectric effect (generation of electrical charge under an applied mechanical strain) can be reversed to generate a mechanical strain via the application of an electrical charge (reverse piezoelectric effect).


  5. JB says:

    “This paper gives the first, strongly statistically significant, evidence for a high correlation…”

    Statistical correlation is not evidence.

    “The results [from the new paper] alone don’t tell you there’s actually any real physical connection, I think,” says Jeremy Thomas

    Nothing new here. Just computer jocks farting with their algorithms.

  6. tempestnut says:

    I thought electric earthquakes were already a reality. I even have an app on my phone called the Disaster prediction app. Go to https://quakewatch.net/ or just watch https://youtu.be/hWEn5JZ22dk

    One thing is for sure, the notion of tectonic plates is rapidly losing ground. Once you grasp the electrical nature of our world nothing seems the same again and its impossible to take the old guard seriously anymore.

  7. ivan says:

    They do say , ‘there are lies, damn lies and statistics’ or is this another unvalidated computer model?

  8. oldbrew says:

    Published: 12 September 2016
    Earthquake potential revealed by tidal influence on earthquake size–frequency statistics

    We find that very large earthquakes, including the 2004 Sumatran, 2010 Maule earthquake in Chile and the 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake in Japan, tend to occur near the time of maximum tidal stress amplitude.
    . . .
    We conclude that large earthquakes are more probable during periods of high tidal stress.


  9. Gamecock says:

    ‘We conclude that large earthquakes are more probable during periods of high tidal stress.’

    Great! Now who can you help with this information? And how much did it cost us to find out?