Etho-Geological Forecasting

Scientific Survey Paper by David Jay Brown & Rupert Sheldrake

Interview with William Kautz

Interview with James Berkland

Interview with Marsha Adams

Interview with Motoji Ikeya

Message Board


David Jay Brown Bio

Animals and Earthquakes

Etho-Geological Forecasting:
Unusual Animal Behavior & Earthquake Prediction

by David Jay Brown

I began researching the strange and mysterious behaviors of animals that are often reported prior to earthquakes in 1996 as part of a  collaboration with British biologist Rupert Sheldrake. The initial  research that I did became the backbone for the section on this subject  in Dr. Sheldrake's bestselling book on the unexplained powers of  animals, Dogs That Know When Their Owners are Coming Home. (This  information was updated, with a summary of the earthquake data that has  accumulated since Dogs That Know was published, in Dr. Sheldrake's more  recent book The Sense of Being Stared At.) Since I compiled more  material than Dr. Sheldrake could fit into the section in his book on  this subject, I summarized much of this material in an earlier version  of this essay, portions of which have been widely reprinted in books,  magazines, and numerous web sites on the Internet.

As a result of this article--which presently comes up as the first item  on Google's search engine when one types in the phrase "unusual animal  behavior"--I have received many hundreds of reports from people all overthe world. Almost every time there is a major earthquake somewhere on  the planet, I receive a number of reports, sometimes a dozen or more.  The many anecdotes that I have received have been carefully saved in an  ever-growing database. To follow is a revised and updated version of my  earlier article, which incorporates material from the many reports that  I have received, as well as a more thorough examination of the theories  that have been proposed to explain this phenomenon, and a look into someof the new research findings.

There is much anecdotal evidence suggesting that some animals have the  ability to detect sensory stimuli which humans can not--even with our  most sensitive technological instruments. That many animals have access  to a perceptual range exceeding those of humans is scientifically  well-established, but it also appears that many animals have sensory  abilities not currently explained by traditional science. For example,  homing pigeons have remarkable abilities to navigate to their desired  location using abilities that are not fully understood.

Perhaps most significantly, Dr. Sheldrake and colleagues (such as  myself) have demonstrated how some pets appear to anticipate the arrivalof their owner. Regardless of the time of day, some animals appear to  sense when their human companion is returning, without receiving any  known physical signals. The animals usually express this by waiting in  the same spot each time--such as by the door or window--shortly before  their owner arrives home. This research is documented In Dr. Sheldrake's book on the unexplained powers of animals, Dogs That Know When Their  Owners Are Coming Home.

Researching the unexplained powers of animals with Dr. Sheldrake turned  out to be an extremely fruitful endeavor. In the initial stages of our  research, Dr. Sheldrake brought to my attention the following fact,  which made a great impression on me. Animals have been very carefully  studied In laboratory settings, as well as In the wild; however, the  unique bond that forms between human and pet had never been carefully  explored scientifically. This glaringly obvious, empty niche in the  history of science, which had eluded me and many others, seemed to hold  great promise.

When I began this research I already knew that many pet owners believe  that they have powerful "psychic" bonds with their pets, and often  describe their connection with the animal as "telepathic". Dr. Dolittle  isn't the only person who claims to be able to communicate with animals;

many people say that they can do this, and, in fact, numerous books have been written on the subject. Some people claim that their pets have  precognitive abilities, and, of course, others have noticed that some  animals act in peculiar ways just before an earthquake strikes.

I personally experienced the latter phenomenon myself prior to a Los  Angeles earthquake In 1990. I was in graduate school at the time,  working in the learning and memory lab on the fifth floor of the  University of Southern California's Neuroscience Building. I was working with three other graduate students and three calm rabbits. Suddenly the  rabbits became noticeably agitated. They started hopping around in their cages wildly for around five minutes. Then a 5.2 earthquake sent the  whole building rolling and swaying.

After my experience with the anxious rabbits I have learned that, since  the beginning of recorded history, virtually every culture In the world  has reported observations of unusual animal behavior prior to  earthquakes (and--to a lesser extent--volcanic eruptions), but  conventional science has never been able to adequately explain the  phenomenon. Nonetheless, the Chinese have employed such sightings for  hundreds of years as an important part of a nationally-orchestrated  earthquake warning systems, with some success.

Perhaps most significantly, on February 4, 1975 the Chinese successfully evacuated the city of Haicheng several hours before a 7.3 magnitude  earthquake--based primarily on observations of unusual animal behavior.  90% of the city's structures were destroyed in the quake, but the entire city had been evacuated before it struck. Nearly 90,000 lives were  saved. Since then China has been hit by a number of major quakes that  they were not as prepared for, and they have also had some false alarms, so their system is certainly not fool-proof. But never-the-less, they  have made a remarkable achievement by demonstrating that earthquakes do  not always strike without warning.

Helmut TrIbutsch's classic work on the subject of earthquakes and  unusual animal behavior--When the Snakes Awake--details numerous  consistent accounts of the phenomenon from all over the world. Although  these behavior patterns are well-documented, most geologists that I have spoken with at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) don't take it  very seriously. The official word from the USGS is that there aren't any earthquake prediction techniques--unusual animal behavior observations  included--which perform any better than chance.

This is ironic and unfortunate, because the USGS itself funded a  Stanford Research Institute (SRI) study for several years, back in the  early eighties, which showed promising results. inspired by China's  success. In 1975 William Kautz (Click here to read an interview with  Kautz) and Leon Otis created "Project Earthquake Watch". They recruited  hundreds of volunteers from all over California to observe their animals for any unusual behavior, and call a toll-free hotline number to record  their observations. Kautz and Otis got significant results--that is,  before some earthquakes more people reported unusual animal  behavior--but the USGS stopped funding the study for reasons that no on  that I've spoken to so far seems to know. Even harder to understand is  why today the official word from the USGS, and the National Earthquake  Prediction Evaluation Council, is that no form of earthquake prediction  performs better than chance.

In fact, the notion that odd animal behavior can help people predict  earthquakes is perceived by most traditional geologists in the West as  folklore, or an old wives tale, and is often cast into the same boat as  sightings of poltergeists, Elvis, and the Loch Ness Monster. The ancient Greeks, on the other hand, considered an understanding of the  relationship between unusual animal behavior and earthquakes to be an  esoteric form of Secret Knowledge. In ancient Persia (what is now Iran)  there were wise men who predicted earthquakes using a forecasting  process that included digging wells, looking at the moon/stars, and  observing animal behavior. That such strong support for the application  of this knowledge still exists in the East--in long-lived civilizations  like China and Japan--is testimony to the reality of the phenomenon, as  they have witnessed many more earthquakes in their long histories than  has a comparatively young country like the United States.

But not all Western geologists are close-minded with regard to the  phenomenon. James Berkland--a retired USGS geologist from Santa Clara  County, California--claims to be able to predict earthquakes with  greater than 75% accuracy rate simply by counting the number of lost pet ads in the daily newspaper classifieds, and correlating this  relationship to lunar-tide cycles. This maverick geologist has been  meticulously saving and counting lost pet ads for many years. Berkland  says that the number of missing dogs and cats goes up significantly for  as long as two weeks prior to an earthquake. I Interviewed Berkland  (Click here to read the interview with Berkland), and spent many hours  in the local library, rolling through microfilm collections of the San  Jose Mercury News, counting lost pet ads in an attempt to check out  Berkland's claims. (Click here to read the scientific paper on this  topic, written by Rupert Sheldrake and myself.)

Gravitational variations due to the lunar cycles, he says, create  "seismic windows" of greater earthquake probability. When the number of  missing pets also suddenly rises, then--bingo--a quake is likely to  happen. Berkland said he thinks the USGS won't accept unusual animal  data because it doesn't jive with their current scientific paradigm and  hypotheses. (Researchers who attempt earthquake prediction are often  lumped into the same category as fortune tellers and scam artists by  traditional geologists.) It is not surprising then to hear that Berkland was suspended from his position as Santa Clara county geologist for  claiming to predict earthquakes--such as the 1989 Loma Prieta quake in  Northern California, which was preceded by numerous reports of odd  animal behavior.

Unusual behavior is difficult to define, and determining if there is a  characteristic behavior is not a simple, clear-cut process, although  there are some distinct patterns which have emerged. For example, an  intense fear that appears to make some animals cry and bark for hours,  and others flee in panic has been reported often. Equally characteristic is the apparent opposite effect of wild animals appearing confused,  disoriented, and losing their usual fear of people. Some other common  observations are that animals appear agitated, excited, nervous, overly  aggressive, or seem to be trying to burrow or hide.

For example, after a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the Pacific  North-West in 2001, a woman from Washington state wrote me saying that  her goats were "running around frantically in circles. One goat was  simply running in a tight circle, as tightly as he could...which I have  never seen a goat do before. Then our indoor dog began barreling up and  down the stairs and barking wildly. As I stood to go out and see what  was going on, the earthquake hit."

In 1996 I conducted a telephone survey of Santa Cruz County households  to find out how many people have observed unusual animal behavior prior  to earthquakes. Out of the 200 people randomly selected from the phone  book, 15% told me they had observed an animal acting oddly before an  earthquake. When I conducted a telephone survey of Los Angeles County  the following year I found precisely the same figure, 15% out of 200.  Some common observations were animals appearing frightened, agitated,  panic-stricken, excited, or confused.

A number of people found their ordinarily mellow cats suddenly darted  off and hid, or paced around crying for a few minutes before the quake.  I was told of goats and horses leaping around wildly, noisy birds  suddenly becoming silent, or a whole flock of seagulls taking off all at once just before an earthquake. A few people told me that they noticed  the number of roadkill increasing for several days before a quake. A lot of people mentioned dogs vanishing or barking uncontrollably.

One Santa Cruz woman told me their neighbor's dog jumped a fence just  before the 1989 Loma Prieta quake in Northern California, then the dog  sat on her daughter through the quake, as though trying to protect her.  Other stories are just plain bizarre. One woman said that her cat did a  back-flip off her balcony. Another woman reported that her cat leaped  out of a two-story window shortly before a quake.

Although the majority of accounts pertain to dogs and cats, there are  also many stories about other types of animals In the wild, on farms,  and in zoos; including horses, cows, deer, goats, possums, rats,  chickens, and other birds. The behavior has been reported in many other  animal species as well, including fish, jellyfish, reptiles, and even  Insects. Deep sea fish, for example, have been caught close to the  surface of the ocean on numerous occasions around Japan prior to  earthquakes. (Tributsch, 1982)

Some fish--catfish in particular--are reputed to become agitated before  earthquakes, and at times have been reported to actually leap out of the water onto dry land. Snakes have been known to leave their underground  places of hibernation In the middle of the winter prior to quakes, only  to be found frozen on the surface of the snow. Mice are commonly  reported to appear dazed before quakes, and allow themselves to easily  be captured by hand. Homing pigeons are said to take much longer to  navigate to their destination prior to earthquakes.

Hens have been reported laying fewer eggs, or no eggs at all, and pigs  have been observed aggressively trying to bite one another before  earthquakes (Tributsch, 1982). Someone in Northern Iran, close to the  epicenter of a 6.2 magnitude earthquake that occurred on May 28, 2004,  wrote me to report that, "The Hens started to become extremely noisy  about a week before the earthquake and stayed extremely quiet on the day of the earthquake. They also laid no eggs that day."

Bees have been seen evacuating their hive in a panic, minutes before an  earthquake, and then not returning until fifteen minutes after the quake ended. Even creatures such as millipedes, leeches, squid, and ants have  been reported to exhibit abnormal behavior prior to earthquakes (Miller, 1996).

These strange behaviors generally occur anywhere from moments to weeks  in advance of a quake. Most of the people I have spoken with who have  witnessed this phenomenon, observed the strange behavior within  twenty-four hours of a quake, although some observations occurred more  than a week before the quake struck. Berkland has suggested that there  are possibly two primary precursory earthquake signals--one several  weeks before, and the other one just moments before the quake. A lot of  reports appear to confirm this.

A number of theories have been proposed to explain why animals sometimes act in peculiar ways prior to earthquakes, and what the precursory  signals that the animals are picking up on might be. One of the earliest ideas on the subject comes from an ancient Japanese legend. During the  Middle Ages it was believed that earthquakes were caused by the rustling of giant catfish that lived underground. This mythological idea, which  has found artistic expression in numerous Japanese wood-print blocks,  probably arose from observations of catfish behaving in strange ways  prior to earthquakes.

Catfish normally lead a rather sluggish life. They live In muddy river  and lake bottoms, and usually don't move around all that much. However,  catfish have been observed becoming so wildly excited and agitated prior to earthquakes, that they will sometimes actually leap out of the water  onto dry land. Numerous reports suggest that fish seem to be  particularly sensitive to whatever the precursory earthquake signals  might be.

The scientific theories that have been proposed to explain this  phenomenon generally fall into six major categories--ultrasound  vibrations, magnetic field fluctuations, electric field variations,  piezoelectric airborne Ions, brain changes, and precognition--which I  discuss in detail below.

Ultrasound Theory:

Because many animals possess auditory capacities beyond the human range,

it has been suggested that some animals may be reacting to ultrasound  emitted as microseisms from fracturing rock, or other subtle sounds,  vibrations, or movements of the earth. (Armstrong, 1969) Humans hear  within a frequency range between 16 and 20,000 Hz, while dogs and cats  can hear at least up to 60,000 Hz. However, one of the primary problems  with the ultrasound theory is that some of the animals that respond in  advance to earthquakes have hearing that is no more sensitive than our  own. For example, pigeons and songbirds hear less well than humans, or,  at best, only as well, so their unusual behavior prior to earthquakes  can not be traced to ultrasound vibrations.

Another problem arises from the fact that small earth tremors and minor  earthquakes are common in seismically active areas. For example, In  California there are generally hundreds of small earthquakes (magnitude  3 or less) every year. If animals were so sensitive to weak vibrations  then they would frequently give false alarms in these areas. Most  importantly, if so many species of animals can pick up characteristic  vibrations before major earthquakes, then seismologists should be able  to identify them with their sensitive instruments, yet they have failed  to do so, despite years of intensive research.

Earth-Leaking Gas Theory:

Some researchers have suggested that animals may be responding to radon  or other gases released by the earth prior to an earthquake. It Is  well-known that in the rhythm of lunar tides, and under certain  geological conditions, the above-ground concentration of swamp gases,  such as methane, can change slightly. The gases are also sometimes  released from the ground during earth tremors. Since almost all animals  (apes and most birds excluded) have a keener sense of smell than humans  do, it seems reasonable to suggest than some animals may be reacting to  the smell of unpleasant gases released from the bowels of the earth  prior to earthquakes. Animals have also been reported to act frightened  before volcanic eruptions, which provides further evidence for this notion.

We know that the nose of a dog Is about a million times more sensitive  than that of a human, and some insects (such as the silk moth) have  extraordinary sensing abilities. For example, at mating time the female  silk moth produces less than a millionth of a gram of sex attractant,  which Is distributed by the wind. A male, with its hypersensitive  antenna, can receive the mating signal from as far as seven miles away.  A single attractant molecule is enough to arouse his attention. A few  sexy molecules are all it takes to move the insect into purposeful  action, and-off he goes In hot pursuit of the female.

However, although some species are far more sensitive to olfactory  stimuli than we are, others, like songbirds, are less sensitive, and  there doesn't seem to be a correlation between an animals' sense of  smell and their sensitivity to earthquakes. There also isn't any  evidence that earthquakes are generally preceded by the leaking of gases out of the earth. Even If such gases are released through tiny,  newly-created cracks in the earth's surface before earthquakes, then why do animals not respond with fear when when they burrow through the  ground? Likewise, why don't animals panic when people dig holes, or  stumble upon gas-filled cavities? Why do songbirds--who are otherwise so indifferent to odors--sometimes become so excited prior to an  earthquake? And how could dogs possibly tolerate the air pollution of  cities without panicking as they often do before earthquakes?

It seems unlikely that the smell of unpleasant gases Is a primary factor In what causes the unusual pre-earthquake behaviors. However, since some organisms respond to changes in the polarity and concentration of  atmospheric ions, it has been suggested that this sensitivity enables  certain animals to detect the air-Ionizing effects of radon released  from the ground in advance of certain earthquakes. The effects of radon  gas on the level of air ionization can also be expected to change the  electric field gradient, and dozens of animals (including humans) have  been shown to be sensitive to changes In the electric field gradient of  the atmosphere. (Chalmers, 1967) This Is discussed in more detail In the upcoming section on electric fields.

Magnetic Field Theory Another candidate for the underlying cause of unusual animal behavior  prior to earthquakes is fluctuations In the earth's magnetic field.  Because some animals have a sensitivity to variations In the earth's  magnetic field (usually as a means of orientation), and since variations in the magnetic field occur near the epicenters of earthquakes (Chapman  and Bartels, 1940), it has been suggested that this is what the animals  are picking up on. Reactions to weak magnetic fields have been shown to  exist in bacteria, termites, beetles, and fish (Barnothy, 1969), so the  possibility can not be dismissed that some animals may occasionally  recognize the magnetic-field changes of 1-100 gamma that sometimes  appear before earthquakes.

However, it is unlikely that magnetic fields alone are the sole cause of unusual pre-earthquake behavior, as experiments have shown that magnetic field disturbances cause confusion in animals at worst, not the fear and panic that has been witnessed prior to earthquakes. Also, magnetic field changes usually appear much too early before an earthquake (sometimes  months before), and the magnetic field variations to which animals would normally be exposed to-because of day-to-night variations and frequent  magnetic storms in the ionosphere--are at least as great as those  variations associated with earthquakes. But magnetic field variations  may be part of what animals are responding to, as electromagnetic  signals are strongly associated with earthquakes. Extending the field of study beyond just magnetism into electromagnetism--which covers a wider  sphere of Influence--may be key to understanding what Is occurring with  these animals.

Marsha Adams, at the Time Research Institute in San Francisco, developed sensors that measure low-frequency electromagnetic signals, which, she  says, allow her to predict earthquakes with over 90% accuracy. Adams set up a network of electromagnetic sensors along some of the major  faultlines in California, and from the input she receives--which Is  analyzed by specialized computer software--she issues weekly earthquake  forecasts. Adams suspects that low-frequency electromagnetic  signals-created by the fracturing of crystalline rock deep In the earth  along fault lines can have biological consequences, and that her  Instruments are picking up the same signals that sensitive animals do.

As a result of this technology--which is supported by private  subscription, not public funds--Adams says that her system makes unusual animal behavior observations obsolete. However, since It has not been  clearly determined what it Is that the animals are picking up on,  complete confidence in the electromagnetic sensors may be premature, and Adams' 90% accuracy claim hasn't been confirmed by an Independent study.

As part of my research with Dr. Sheldrake we subscribed to Adams'  earthquake prediction service for four months. Since there weren't any  earthquakes during this period we can't confirm her accuracy rating.  However, she didn't make any false predictions. Adams' work deserves  more serious attention, and further support for her belief Is provided  in the section below on electrical field theory.

Electrical Field Theory:

As we discussed at the beginning of this section, fish are known to have a high degree of sensitivity to variations in electric fields, and this  appears to be an important clue for understanding how animals react to  pre-earthquake signals. The surface of the earth has a constant  electrical field, and because telluric current variations (natural  electric currents flowing near the earth's surface) have also been noted before some earthquakes, It has been suggested that this may be what the fish are reacting to. (Ulomov and Malashev, 1971) To test this  hypothesis, Motoll Ikeya and his colleagues at Osaka University in  Japan, have done numerous studies where they exposed a variety of  animals--including minnows, catfish, eels, and earthworms--to a weak  electrical field.

Ikeya's laboratory experiments were conducted to see if exposure to a  weak electrical field could elicit the pre-earthquake animal  behaviors-what the Japanese call Seismic Animal Anomalous Behavior  (SAAB). Ikeya's experiments produced interesting results. Fish showed  panic reactions (Ikeya et al, 1996), and earthworms moved out of the  soil and swarmed when the current was applied. (Ikeya et al, 1998)  Unlike their American counterparts, some Japanese researchers take SAAB  research quite seriously. A group of Japanese researchers have even gone so far as to do genetic experiments, to see If they can find specific  genes that encode for a sensitivity to pre-earthquake signals, which  would make some animal breeds more sensitive than others. (However,  these studies by Individual Japanese scientists do not necessarily  reflect the general attitude of most contemporary seismologists In  Japan. When I Interviewed Professor Junzo Kasahara--a prominent  geophysicist at the Earthquake Prediction Research Institute at the  University of Tokyo--he told me that most seismologists in Japan don't  take the SAAB research that seriously.)

Tributsch, the author of When the Snakes Awake, has suggested that a  piezoelectric effect may be responsible for triggering the  pre-earthquake behaviors in animals, and this explanation seems  significantly more plausible than the ultrasound and gas-leaking  theories described above. This theory makes sense because of the  following facts. When certain crystals-such as quartz-are arranged in a  way that pressure is applied along particular portions of the crystal's  axes, the distribution of positive and negative ions can shift slightly.

In this way pressure changes to produce electrical charging of the  crystal's surfaces. On the average, the earth's crust consists of 15%  quartz, and in certain areas it can be as high as 55%.

According to Tributsch, the piezoelectric effect of the quartz Is  capable of generating enough electrical energy to account for the  creation of airborne ions before and during an earthquake. This  electrostatic charging of aerosol particles may be what the animals are  reacting to. Since some animals have also been observed acting  frightened prior to thunderstorms, and are known to flee areas, or show  signs of distress before a storm arrives, it may be that they have  evolved a sensitivity to electrical changes In their environment.

The Nervous System and Electric Fields:

Some people say that they feel an uncomfortable pressure in their head,  or a persistent headache that lasts for weeks, which suddenly vanishes  moments before an earthquake strikes. Because magnetite has been found  in some animal brains, Berkland thinks that it is possible that animals  may be reacting to their own headaches caused by changes in the earth's  electromagnetic field. He said that a dog was observed chewing on willow bark--the plant from which aspirin In derived--prior to an earthquake,  and he believes that this was an attempt by the dog to self-medicate  himself for the headache.

Berkland also told me that some people with Multiple Sclerosis--a  disease caused by Improper insulation around the electrically-conductive fibers of the nervous system--experience an increase in symptoms weeks  before an earthquake. Since the nervous system is an electrochemical  system, it doesn't seem surprising that geologically-based electrical  field changes would disrupt it's functioning.

Besides unusual animal behavior, other mysterious phenomena are often  connected with earthquakes. The regular eruptions of geysers have been  interrupted. Well levels have been reported to change, or the water In  them has been known to become cloudy. Magnets have been said to  temporarily lose their power. Many people report that there is suddenly  an unexplainable stillness In the air, and that all around them  everything becomes completely silent. Strange lights are often seen  glowing from the earth, and unusual fogs have been reported. (Several  years ago my girlfriend and I once witnessed a spectacular display of  "earth lights" for around a half hour one evening in the Santa Cruz  mountains of California, which are riddled with fault lines. Click here  to read an account of this experience.)

These phenomena are all consistent with the notion that the odd animal  behavior may result from changes In the earth's electromagnetic field,  or the release of electrically-charged particles due to Intense pressure on crystalline rock. It's interesting that a number of people claim to  have sighted UFO's hovering around earthquake sites. Even more puzzling  to explain are the reports of unusual animal behavior prior to so-called

"alien abduction" experiences, which Karen Wesolowski--Executive  Director of PEER (Program for Extraordinary Experience Research)--told  me about. (PEER Is an organization that was founded by Harvard  psychiatrist John Mack to study people who claim to have been abducted  by alien beings.)

The UFO sightings are probably due to a phenomenon called  "selsmoatmospheric luminescence", where the release of  electrically-charged particles from the earth causes auras and lights to be seen. This, and other electrical anomalies, like interference in  radio and television broadcasts, seem best explained by the electrical  changes that occur prior to earthquakes.

Disruptions in The Mind Field:

A possible explanation for the psychological effects underlying the  strange animal behavior arises from the fact that electrically-charged  ionic particles have been shown to change neurotransmitter (chemical  messenger) ratios in animal brains. More specifically,  electrically-charged ionic particles have been shown to alter serotonin  (a neurotransmitter responsible for neural inhibition) levels In animal  brains. Since charged ions may be released prior to some earthquakes, It has been suggested that this may explain the two seemingly contradictory behavior patterns discussed earlier, where normally-calm pets seem to  become frightened, and wild animals often appear to lose their sense of  fear.

Serotonin levels In the brain help to mediate an animal's fear response. This Is why serotonin re-uptake antidepressants like Prozac are  prescribed for people with social anxiety. By increasing serotonin  availability the brain, the emotion of fear is reduced. Pre-earthquake  electrical field changes may effect neurotransmitter levels In different species of animals' brains In different ways, and this may account for  the difference In reactions between wild and domesticated animals.  However, it does appear that serotonin is, at least, one of the primary  neurochemical variables that's being altered prior to earthquakes. There could be others.

These neurotransmitter changes could possibly help to explain another  related phenomenon. I've noticed that earthquakes (like solar eclipses)  sometimes trigger an intense consciousness-altering experience in  people. People often feel energized, emotionally open, and acutely  sensitive following earthquakes. Powerful bonding experiences often  occur between people In the aftermath of a quake. It's Interesting that  people almost seem like they're under the Influence of MDMA (Ecstasy,  the controversial "rave" drug which floods the brain with serotonin)  after earthquakes. Earthquake victims often walk around after the quake  In a euphoric daze, hugging one another and expressing feelings of love.

Although this is likely to be true for any natural disaster that people  share, there may be more going on. Subjectively, earthquake experiences  often take on dreamlike qualities, or have a sense of unreality about  them. Perhaps this is because our most cherished notion of what is safe  and solid in the world--the very ground upon which we rest--becomes  wobbly and unstable. Our whole sense of reality is shaken with the  earth, as one is suddenly lifted up out of the mundane, and thrust into  the center of what seems to be an immensely important drama. This  experience can be quite intense, so it's not inconceivable to suppose  that geologically-generated electrical signals stimulate our nervous  systems in ways that heighten this experience by altering our  neurotransmitter levels.

Extrasensory Perception and Precognition Theories:

Other possible explanations for unusual pre-earthquake behavior come  from the realm of parapsychology. It could be that what the animals are  actually experiencing is a form of precognition, or they could be  perceiving and responding to stimuli that currently science has no way  to measure. Support for the notion of precognition is increased when one compares the reports of unusual animal behavior with the even more  puzzling reports of strange animal behavior reported in England during  World War II (which Dr. Sheldrake--who has built up a database of such  accounts--told me about). Animals were said to act with fear and  agitation prior to aerial bomb raids, long before they could have  possibly heard or felt the vibrations from the approaching aircrafts.  More recent evidence comes from a woman I visited In Israel (Savyon  Liebrecht, a popular writer), who told me that during the 1991 Persian  Gulf War her dog always ran into the bomb shelter before the air raid  siren sounded.

There Is actually considerable scientific support for psi or psychic  phenomena such as telepathy and precognition, although much of the  public, and even many scientists, are unaware of this. Some of the most  convincing evidence for these types of phenomena were uncovered by Dean  Radin, a renown psi researcher and author of The Conscious Universe.  (Click here to read an interview with Radin.) Through a series of  cleverly designed experiments, Radin and his colleagues have  demonstrated that some people can receive information about the future  in ways that conventional science is currently unable to explain. For example, in one of Radin's experiments subjects became  physiologically aroused a few seconds before they were presented with an

emotionally-stimulating image. (Radin, 1997) A galvanic skin response  (GSR) monitor measured the electrical conductivity of the subjects' skin while they sat before a video screen that displayed a random series of  Images. Most of the images were of pleasant natural landscapes or  cheerful people, which generated a calming physiological response.  However, every so often, a disturbing or emotionally-arousing image (an  autopsy photo or an erotic photo, for example) would pop up on the  screen, which would generate a measurable response of increased  electrodermal activity. Although the computer was programmed to wait  five seconds before displaying the image (after it was randomly chosen), the subjects' GSR changes began several seconds before the image was  actually displayed.

One way of interpreting this sort of phenomenon is to suppose that there are time-reversed information flows. Perhaps information can travel  backwards through time. However, this possibility brings with it all the notorious time-travel paradoxes that are well-known in science fiction,  and there may be a simpler explanation. An alternative is to reexamine  our normal concept of what we call the "present moment". Perhaps this is too limited. What we call "now" is a moment that has a certain  "thickness" in the space-time continuum, some fraction of a second. But  what we consciously experience as "now" may be much shorter than what  unconscious parts of ourselves--or other animals--experience as "now".

It may be that some animals experience a "thicker" awareness of the  present moment than we do, one that expands farther into the past and  future than we are normally capable of. By this same notion other  animals may experience a "thinner" slice of the present "moment" than we do. How "thick" the present moment is objectively may be difficult to  determine, especially since physicists often view the entire space-time  continuum-past, present, and future-as a single "block". Physicists are  at a loss to explain why we experience time flowing in a single  direction only--from past to future--and quantum physics tells us that  events only exist in a determined fashion if they are observed or  measured. So there Is plenty of room for speculation in this area.


Whatever the explanation for this mysterious phenomenon is, if you live  in an earthquake-prone region of the world, then paying attention to the animals around you may not be a bad idea. California and Japanese  residents, like other people living along major fault zones on this  planet, don't need to be reminded of the devastation that an earthquake  can bring, and currently Western science doesn't have any reliable means of forecasting these earthshaking events. Tens of thousands of lives are lost globally, and billions of dollars in property damage occur on  average every year as a result of earthquakes. Any clues that may be  used to help us predict when and where the next earthquake is coming  should be approached with an open mind.

References and Further Reading:

Barnothy MF. Biological Effects of Magnetic Fields, Plenum Press, 1969.

Buskirk, R.E.; Frohlich, C. and Latham, G.V.. "Unusual Animal Behavior  Before Earthquakes: A Review of Possible Sensory Mechanisms",  http://deprem.cs.itu.edu.tr/Animal_Behavior.htm

Chalmers JA. Atmospheric Electricity. Pergamon Press, New York, 1967.

Chapman S, Bartels J. Geomagnetism, Vol. 1. Carendon Press, Oxford,  1940, 194ff.

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Evernden, J.F. (ed.) Abnormal Animal Behavior Prior to Earthquakes. U.S.

Dept. of Interior Geological Survey, Conference I. Convened under the  auspices of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, USGS,  Menlo Park, CA, 23-24, September 1976.

Hatai, S. and Abe, N. "The Responses of the Catfish, Parasilurus  ascotus, to Earthquakes." Proc. Imperial Acad. Japan, 8, 1932, pp. 374-378.

Ikeya, M., Earthquakes and Animals: From Folk Legends to Science, World  scientific, Singapore, 2004.

Ikeya, M., Komatsu, T., et al. "Pulsed electric field before Kobe and  Izu earthquakes from Seismically-induced Anomalous Animal Behavior  (SAAB), Episodes, vol 20, no. 4, Dec., 1997.

Ikeya M, Matsuda T, Yamanaka Y. "Reproduction of mimosa and clock  anomalies before earthquakes." Proceedings of the Japanese Academy,  1998, 74S, 60-64.

Ikeya, M. and Matsumoto, H. "Reproduced Earthquake Precursor Legends  Using a Van de Graaff Electrostatic Generator: Candle Flame and Dropped  Nails", Naturwissenschaften, 84, 539-541, 1997.

Ikeya M, Takaki S, Takashimizu T. Electric shocks resulting In seismic  animal anomalous behavior. Journal of the Physical Society of Japan,  1996, 65, 710-12.

Miller, Ted, Earthquake Prediction Handbook, Info-Pub, 1996.

Otis, L. and Kautz, W. Biological Premonitors of Earthquakes: A  Validation Study. Final Report, USGS, Menlo Park, CA, August, 1985.

Radin D. The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic  Phenomena. Harper, San Francisco, 1997, pp 118-24.

Sheldrake, R., Seven Experiments that Could Change the World, Riverhead  Books, 1995.

Sheldrake, R., Dogs That Know When Their Owners are Coming Home and  Other Unexplained Powers of Animals, Crown, 1999, pp. 245-265.

Sheldrake, R., The Sense of Being Stared At and Other Unexplained Powers

of the Human Mind, Crown, 2003, pp. 225-230.

Suyehiro, Y. "Unusual Behavior of Fishes to Earthquakes." In Scientific  Report, Keikyu Aburatsubo Marine Park Aquarium, Vol. 1, 1968, pp. 4-11.

Suyehiro, Y. "Unusual Behavior of Fish to Earthquakes, II." In  Scientific Report, Keikyu Aburatsubo Marine Park Aquarium, Vol. 4, 1972,

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Tributsch, H., When the Snakes Awake, Massachusetts Institute of  Technology Press, 1982. (Unfortunately this book is currently out of  print. However, it can be found in most university science libraries.)

Ulomov, V.I. and Malashev, B.Z. "The Tashkent Earthquake of 26 April,  1966." Acad. Nauk. Uzbek, FAN, Tashkent, 1971.

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