Interview with James Berkland
James Berkland is a geologist who worked for the United States Geological
Survey (U.S.G.S.) from 1973 to 1994. He is well-known for his
controversial earthquake prediction methods that include calculating the
number of missing pets ads in the newspapers of earthquake-prone areas.
Berkland’s interest in geology began as a child, as he says his dad was a
“rock-hound”. After earning his BA in Geology at U.C. Berkeley in 1958 he
went directly to work for six years with the U.S. Geological Survey,
involving laboratory and fieldwork throughout the western United States,
including Alaska. Then, after earning his Masters degree in Geology at San
Jose State University in 1964 he accepted the position of Engineering
Geologist with the U.S. Bureau or Reclamation, based in Sacramento, and
for the next five years worked on engineering projects involving the
storage and moving of water at a number of dam sites, tunnels and canals
in California and Oregon.
Berkland worked on his Ph.D. in geology at the University of California at
Davis until 1972, and although he passed his Ph.D. orals, he didn’t
complete his dissertation within the required seven years. However he
published more than 50 scientific papers, many of which utilized his Ph.D.
studies, including a paper delivered at the International Geological
Congress at Montreal in 1972.
Berkland was Assistant Professor of Geology at Appalachian State
University in Boone, North Carolina until 1973, where he shared in the
discovery of evidence for Pleistocene glaciation in the Southern
Appalachians. Berkland then moved backed to California and worked for the
U.S.G.S. for over twenty years. He was the first County Geologist for the
most populous county in northern California, Santa Clara County. Besides
helping to establish geologic ordinances widely held as models in the
field, Berkland served on many committees and advisory boards. He also
held a position for two years as an adjunct professor at San Jose State
University, and he received distinguished member awards from the Santa
Clara County Engineers and Architects Association and the SABER Society at
San Jose State University.
Berkland claims that he can predict earthquakes with over 75% accuracy by
calculating the number of lost pet ads in the newspaper, and observing the
lunar-tide cycles. He has been meticulously saving and counting lost pet
ads for many years, and he says that the number of missing dogs and cats
goes up significantly for as long as two weeks prior to an earthquake.
Berkland also noted that many earthquakes occurred at the time of maximum
tidal forces associated with the twice-monthly alignments of the Sun and
Moon. In the 70s he began to make informal predictions, scoring six out of
eight during 1974, including the 5.2M Thanksgiving Day Quake of November
27th. This one hit the day after he had predicted it at a meeting of
U.S.G.S. geologists, and it synchronistically shook him and his daughter
while they were attending the movie Earthquake.
Despite Berkland’s successes in earthquake prediction he found it almost
impossible to publish on the subject in scientific journals. His career
began to suffer although his credentials included fellowship in the
Geological Society of America and membership in the Association of
Engineering Geologists, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute,
American Association for the Advancement of Science, Sigma Xi Science
Honor Society, Peninsula Geological Society, Seismological Society of
America, and others.
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 a quake is likely to happen. Berkland said
he thinks the U.S.G.S. won’t accept unusual animal behavior data because
it doesn’t fit with their current scientific paradigm. (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.
When I did the research for Dr. Rupert Sheldrake’s book Dogs That Know
When Their Owner’s Are Coming Home, I set out to replicate Berkland’s
findings, and I sat in the Santa Cruz Public Library for several weeks
counting the Lost Pet ads in the San Jose Mercury News microfilm
collection. I confirmed that Berkland’s calculations were indeed correct;
there was a significant rise in the number of missing dog and cat ads in
the weeks prior to the 1989 quake. The trouble was that when I checked the
number of missing pet ads for the year before, during the same time
period, there was also a rise--yet an earthquake didn’t follow the rise
that year. So more counting needs to be done to determine whether seasonal
effects might influence this phenomenon or not, but it does appear that
Berkland is on to something significant with his method.
Berkland has made many media appearances. He was interviewed on the Art
Bell radio show, and has appeared on Frontline, Sightings, Strange
Universe, Northwest Afternoon, Town Meeting, Bill Cosby Show, The Other
Side, Two at Noon, Evening Matinee, Jeff Rense show, George Putnam Show,
Mitch Battros Show, Laura Lee Show, and many other broadcasts. In 1991 he
was featured in the Farmer s Almanac, and his annual predictions are now
published in the Dot Tide Tables.
Berkland also publishes his predictions in a newsletter called Syzygy, and
he maintains Quakeline, a 900-line telephone information service that was
originally nationwide, but is now restricted to the San Francisco Bay
Area. To find out more about Berkland’s work visit his web site:
I interviewed Jim at his home on November 1, 1996, when he was living in
San Jose, California. Jim is a very friendly guy, and he gets very
enthusiastic when he talks about geology and earthquakes. We spoke about
his career in geology, his methods of earthquake prediction, and what he
thinks the animals are picking up on that is causing them to disappear
prior to earthquakes.
David: How did you get involved in earthquake prediction?
James: As a county geologist I came out here in September of 1973,
directly from Appalachian State University, where I was a Assistant
Professor for a year. But I'm a native Californian, raised in the Bay
Area. I was born down in Glendale, but we moved to Somoma Valley when I
was six years old.
David: How did you first become interested in geology? Why don't we start
James: Well, my dad was a rock hound, and I was brought up in the country,
with animals and hikes, hunting and fishing all around there. I'd see
different terrain, and pick up rocks, different pretty rocks, stick them
in the pocket. My dad was interested in lots of things, and was frustrated
in a number of ways. He was an electrician, a store-keeper, and never had
gone to colleges. He almost started in medicine, but didn't.
I went directly from high school to a local Santa Rosa Junior College.
Then I was going to work for six months and earn money to go to Berkeley
in forestry, but it turned into almost six years. I worked at the biggest
industry in Sonoma County, which is Sonoma State Hospital for the mentally
retarded. I almost didn't get out of there. It was handy, only a mile a
way from where I lived, and I had kind of a pleasing job. It was like
having Boy Scout troop. I would take the kids up in the hills for hikes
Of course, my colleagues there were tickled, because suddenly instead of
120 kids on the ward, there would have maybe 75 or less. It was a lot
easier to handle while I was away for four or five hours. I would pack the
kids lunches, and go up and fish up at the creeks. We'd look at the
wildlife, and turn over rocks to see what's underneath. So I finally I
decided there's got to be a little more. I'm trained for more than this.
It was easy, but it wasn't challenging, and there was so "many things that
I was interested in, but couldn't seem to follow up on. So I went down to
become a forester.
When I got to Berkeley in the middle of Spring semester it turned out that
I'd already received all of the prerequisites for upper division, and
there were no more courses available to me, without taking the forestry
field camp, involved in measuring logs, timber country, and working in a
logging mill. So I said, well, what does that pay,?
Well, no, they said, you pay us. It costs you $200. 1 said, no, next
summer I've got to work again. Well, sorry you can't take any upper
division classes until you've had this summer field camp. Well, my buddy
was taking geology at Berkeley, and he said, we don't have to have our
geology field camp until the end of our senior year. So because all of the
prerequisites were identical I just shifted right into geology, and never
looked back. After two years at Berkeley I went directly to the U.S.G.S.,
were I worked as a non-professional for almost six years, maybe a little
over, during 1958 to 1964.
David: Had you earned your Ph.D.?
James: No, I just had a bachelors. I thought, well, I'll just work at the
U.S.G.S., work my way up, show them what I can do, gradually become a
geologist, and go from there. Well, it turned out, it didn't work that
way. To get with the U.S.G.S. you pretty much had to have a Ph.D., except
under times of national emergency or something, when they hired a few
people with bachelors during the uranium boom because they needed feet to
go out there and walk around.
But there was no way that I could advance. I could have worked as a
technician for my whole life there. So I went back to school, got my
master's at San Jose State, and then just after I'd completed that
suddenly the offers began coming. I could be going to the State Water
department, or Bureau of Reclamation. Then the U.S.G.S. wanted me possibly
to go up on an ice island by myself for six months, just to make bottom
measurements on arctic ice flow, check their radioactivity, and
atmosphere-- just read instruments all by myself, until the ice got cold
enough in August or September to freeze up and they could land the plane.
Well, anyway all these things came down, but I had made a decision and
signed up with the US Bureau of Reclamation as a professional engineer and
geologist. I worked with them for over five years, in dams, tunnels, and
canals in Oregon and California mainly. At this time came the revolution
in Earth Sciences-- the plate tech tectonic in evolution. But from all of
my courses through Santa Rosa Junior College, Cal Berkeley, and San Jose
State, plate tectonics was just a figment of the imagination. It was just
coincidental-- that word I hear all the time-- that it looks like you
could fit South America and Africa together. There's no mechanism. It's
just some wild idea from this German geographer, who is not even a
geologist. So what's he know about this continental drift?
So it was laughter that was associated with the theory. My professor would
always talk about it, show the map, and ha ha. You know, there's this idea
some geographer believed, but it really doesn't make any sense. We'd have
to change our whole understanding geology developed over the last 200
years if we were to accept this. Well, so be it. But they didn't accept it
until the late 60's after notable conference at Monterey, where they
brought geologists from all around the world. They now had space-age data,
bottom -of - the-sea data, new fossil data, and it all began to jive. They
realized that we're not all little islands; everything in it connects at
some point. The unified theory of geology developed at that meeting in
Well, it was too much for me to avoid anymore. I'd been getting little
glimpses of this from talking to people, and seeing things in the paper,
or the Geological Society Bulletin. But when I last left the U.S.G.S. in
1964 they didn't buy it at all. There was no such thing as continental
drift. Movement of the magnetic pool might explain things, not the
movement of continents- So that also added fuel to my understanding, with
light to my understanding about seismic windows.
David: How did you get interested-involved in earthquake prediction)
James: I came out from deciding I wasn't going to spend the rest of my
life back on the east coast, when all of my previous life was here. I told
my wife don't bother to come back with the little daughter, because I'm
coming back to California. So I came, without a job. We'd taken a tour
around the country, and after we'd got back to my mother's place up in
Sonoma County, there was a little postcard from San Jose's County. Mr.
Berkland, if you're still interested in this job you might come for an
I had flown out to take the orals in February of 73, by then in June my
appointment was over back there, and they wanted me to come back. I said,
no, I'm going back to California. We had a couple of possibilities, but
they dwindled. And I hadn't heard from the county. So here's this
postcard-- if you're really interested, call us by August 31st, and this
is like September 2nd. So not to leave any stone unturned I called up the
county engineer, and I said, well, I just back from the east coast, and
I'm available now if that position is still open. Yeah, c'mon down. I'll
So next day I come down and talk to him, and three days later I'm County
Geologist, the first one for Santa Clara County, the first one in Northern
California ever. They had most of the major counties in Southern
California, and they have their own staff of County Geologists. But not
here, and there was a crying need for one, because of the geologic
hazards, the landslides and earthquake problems, and subsidence developing
under the Santa Clara Valley. So for the first few months I was
interested- through the earthquakes I felt, and several others that had
been reported to me in the Bay Area-- but not until January 8th. 1974.
after I'd been there for six months, did it all begin to jive.
I saw an article in the newspaper that we might expect local flooding
around the San Francisco Bay due to an unusual astronomical alignment. I
got out my almanacs. (I've always been an almanac buff.) Say, what is
this? First full moon of the year on January 8th was on the same day as
the closest perigee in about eight years. And the two events were only an
hour and a half apart. Very unusual for them. What I call "synchronaity",
that close together; between the syzygy-- the lining up-- and the perigee-
closest approach. That was causing extreme tides. Also, it was just a week
after the closest approach of the earth and the sun, the perihelia, that
happens once a year, in through January.
So that combination was close to the conditions of January 4th, 1912, when
we had the maximum force in 600 years. This was the maximum force in
several years. And I thought, huh, if the ocean waters are being pulled up
and down by the gravity, and the earth is sort of rotating underneath the
bulge of water and high tide. Then six hours later it's over here where
there's a deficiency of water, and then six hours later it's down under
here, another bulge. So that's why you have two high and two low tides a
I didn't understand all that, really. I didn't have the geometry that
clear. In fact, I wasn't really sure what the difference between a new
moon and full moon was. All I knew was they were lined up. The clearest
analogy is that if the moon is rising just as the sun is setting, that's
when you have the full face of the moon lit up. like the sun's a big
flashlight. So you see the full moon, but if the moon is up here at the
zenith, when the sun is rising or setting, it's obvious you don't see the
whole face of the moon. You can only see the part that's near the moon.
So that's full moon. When the moon rises and the sun's setting, that's
best you can do. And you might even get an eclipse, and that's a perfect
syzygy. I love the solar eclipse. I've seen three, and I expect to see
another one in February of 98. 1 went down to the Galapagos Islands, and
up into the Caribbean. It'll be a beautiful total eclipse, lasting over
four minutes. We saw the ones in Mexico in 91, and I flew down to Peru in
94 and saw the one there. The first one I saw with my daughter back in 79,
with the last one to hit the United States, 48 states. There won't be
another one here until 2017. 1 hope I'm still here.
David: How did you notice that the association between this and
James: Okay, so I said, hey if that's causing the ocean tides to go up,
maybe the solid earth has a tide in it. Indeed it does, about three feet.
I didn't know about it at the time. Well, if the earth is bulging up and
down, maybe that's limbering up the fault lines. And if they're
meta-stable-ready to fail-- this little extra stress of the movement of
the earth, the undulation, underneath this gravitational stress, might
trigger the fault into action. So I said, hmm, we've had six quakes here--
the day of the full moon, two days after the full moon, on the day of
perigee, six days after the new moon and perigee.
All six quakes that hit the Bay Area from my arrival there in September
until January 8th confirmed this wild idea. So I thought, well, if it
continues like this, we should have a quake within the next week. I told
the folks around the office that there was likely to be a quake around
here in the next few days. They said, how big? Well, these others were
mainly 3's and low 4's, and since this is even a higher tidal force,
probably a 4 to a 5. Two days later 4.4 hit down in Buellor, and I said to
myself, boy, this is simple. What's so tough about predicting quakes? Why
isn't everyone using this method? I still don't know why everybody isn't
When I went to Peru in November of 74, 94, our Peruvian of Inca descent
said after the eclipse, I am so happy you were able to see our eclipse. We
in Peru have a tradition we watch the eclipse, and then we wait for the
earthquake. I said, would you say that again for my video camera, please?
Totally caught me by surprise- my idea, maintained by the Incas. So I had
an interview with her for like ten minutes with the video camera. No
doubt, they could see the relationship. She said, what's unusual is that
we already had the quake. Koosco shook with a 4 magnitude quake, three
hours after the moment of totality, she said. Usually it takes a day or
so, and it's possibly bigger.
The next day a 6.2 hit Peru, and there was no quakes as strong for the
first half of November. The strongest quake in the world occurred the day
after the total eclipse, which lasted about four and a half minutes. The
one in Mexico lasted six minutes, and there was no announced Mexican
quake. But there was a Peruvian quake on that same day, even though there
only saw a partial eclipse.
David: So this gave you some additional confirmation that you were onto
James: Yeah, time and again. I mean, if you go into the computer and ask
for all the literature showing earthquakes and tides, over three hundred
titles come up. So when a reporter goes from me to the U.S.G.S. or to
Berkeley, and they say, oh no, we don't support what Berkland's doing.
There's no evidence, no correlation- it just shows they are blindly
ignorant of the world literature. They're just ignorant of it, and so I no
longer consider it my problem. I think it's their problem. They're not
looking at the evidence, and I see it time and again. There's John Mack,
Galileo, whatever. If your idea doesn't match the ruling theory, the
mainstream opinion, there's something wrong with you. So we have to have
legislation, and off with his head.
David: According to Thomas Kuhn novel approaches tend to appeal to younger
scientists, people in graduate school, whereas the older establishment,
which has more invested in the past, is less open to new ideas.
James: Yes, so I've had a lot of good advice. My old mentor with U.S.G.S.
said, Jim, you know you probably will never convince your severest
critics. Your goal should be to outlive them, or have your ideas outlive
them. And I've been so pleased because I have been doing this since 74
with. My first couple years I kept it under wraps because I valued my
scientific reputation. I didn't want to be iconoclast really. I want to do
my work, try to increase public safety on geological matters, and try to
resolve differences between property owners in area or between different
scientific branches, and try to bring the Santa Clara County up to speed.
So with my work in the U.S.G.S., my friends there, a lot of friends with
the California division of Mines and Geology and the Bureau of
Reclamation, I really felt needed. And for the first fifteen years with
the county I had hit my ultimate niche. Everyday I was was excited to get
up, and was ready to go, thinking, what's today going to bring?
David: You'd been predicting earthquakes since 1974, but this was
primarily with tides and the moon. You hadn't gotten interested in animals
or the lost pet ads yet?
James: No, not until 79, after five years. A lot of things happened in 79.
One thing I learned of was a U.S.G.S. study that lasted four years, taking
predictions from numerologists, astrologers, psychics, dreamers, whatever
the source, and filing their predictions. This is because they were being
troubled by having to answer all these wild ideas that people come up and
say, okay, there's going to be a quake that's going to destroy Los
Angeles. California is going to slide into the sea. The last days of the
great state of California. That was called "The Book". Then for several
years it really disturbed the U.S.G.S., because they had to answer all
these people that read the book and loved it as gospel truth.
So, they decided, let's establish a track record, which is the way to go.
Take all of these people, and say they're predicting. Okay, what did you
say last time? How come you missed that one? Why should we believe you
know? Good approach, that's great. So I heard about this, and I sent my
predictions into them, with the newspaper articles and everything. And
they were trying to get me, while I was out in the field a number of days,
and they finally got through to me, and they said, Jim, Jim, the computer
spit out your name, you've got the 99th percentile level, which means
there's only one chance in a hundred that what you're doing is accidental.
But we think you've been lucky you know. Keep on predicting and you fall
back in the grass with the rest of them. I said, well, gee that's good
news. Well, so fine, but if you tell some media person I told you this
I'll deny it. And that didn't bother me too much either, because you know
this is kind of informal, and okay at least I'm achieving something that
caught his attention, and I'm sure they're going to do something with
When they closed the program about a year later I read in the summary that
no one had achieved the 99th percentile level, and no scientist had even
bothered to submit a prediction. I quickly called him. I said Roger Hunter
at the U.S.G.S. in Golden, Colorado. Roger, how could you say that nobody
hit the 99th percentile? I know you told me not to tell the media, but I
hit it. And how could you say no scientist even bothered to submit a
prediction? I'm a fellow in the Geological Society, and I'm a scientist. I
published over 55 papers, and had responsible positions.
Well, yeah, that was a little wrong, he said. I meant to say that an
insufficient number of scientists submitted predictions to make it
statistically meaningful. Well, that is certainly is far different from
saying none had done it, or none had hit 99th percentile. He said, well,
we'll probably correct that in the final version or something. He never
The same thing happened when I joined Earthquake Watch at SRI under
contract with the U.S.G.S. to see if they could reproduce what the Chinese
had done. Before the Haichang earthquake they had a system there, of maybe
a hundred thousand peasants measuring water levels, checking radon with
it's film exposure, measuring little tilt-meters, doing simple things. So
they just day after day said, oh little tilt in the ground here. Or they
would see where the patterns of earthquakes were. And animals especially--
farm animals, wild animals, pets. And because of the accumulation of data
just before March 3, 1975 they evacuated the city of Haichang of about
100,000 people. They had lectures on communism, and had tents and blankets
and things up on the hill.
David: They evacuated everybody on the basis of what?
James: Mainly animals.
David: What did they notice?
James: There was water-level changes. There was radon gas sudden increase.
There was a pattern of small earthquakes in an area where they hadn't had
big earthquakes before, and suddenly they stopped. Meanwhile the zoo
animals were pacing back and forth. The birds were crying. Turtles made
noises, like they were shrieking. Fish were jumping out of the aquarium.
I've got the complete listing. I have probably a dozen or two different
things. The pheasants were crying at night, and would not sleep on the
ground like they normally would do. The common thread, what I actually
have never seen anyone else even mention, but it's quite clear in all
these reports-- is that animals try to leave their normal places of
security prior to an earthquake, on first awareness of an earthquake,
which sounds weird.
Why don't they go into security? Well, some do, but those are not
considered anomalous. If a cat jumps on your lap and wants to be petted,
that's not as interesting as if he jumps up on top of the shelves, leaps
to the TV, knocks things down, and just runs around the house like he's
crazy. If he runs off, and gets hit by a car or something, people say
that's unusual. There are many aspects of it.
So you say why do they run away? Why don't they head for some kind of
security? Well, look what people do. When the ground begins to shake, if
we suddenly get rocked here, really like a repeat of Loma Prieta, we're
not going to want to stay in here and take a chance that it's going to
topple over on us. We're really going to be startled. Books are going to
start bouncing. The refrigerator may hop across the floor. Things are
falling. Noise all over the place. You hear the swimming pool out here,
which we filled in, because it lost about four feet of water out of that.
Some people lost more than that, so you want to get outside, away from
what is normally your place of security, your office, your home. The
tendency is to get me out of here, so we rely on instinct instead of
natural thought processes.
David: What do you think it is the animals are picking up on?
James: I am very confident that the major phenomena that they are
detecting is a change in the magnetic field. I didn't know by what means
they were detecting it.
David: Why do you think that?
James: When Antonio Nefaradi first called me, interrupting my dinner, I
said, how long you been doing this? And he says since April, and now this
is September. Well, how long in advance? A week to ten days in advance
they seem to run away, and then show up in the Lost and Found column. And
when he said that, suddenly the light flashed on. A lot of my skepticism
began to recede, because six days before the 5.9 quake at Coyote Lake on
August 6, 1979, six days before on my birthday, July 31st, our cat Rocky
disappeared. We'd had him for about two years. He never had never run away
before, but he was gone. I thought, gee he's been hit by car or something.
I didn't even think about putting an item in the paper. I didn't even
bother putting a poster up. I asked a few of the neighbors if they'd seen
Rocky. No, nobody had. And the quake happened, six days later- the
strongest quake in the Bay Area since 1911.
And I didn't associate it with the earthquake until a month later when
Antonio called me, and suddenly I could just picture the light bulb over
my head. Well, Rocky followed this outlandish hypothesis, that the animals
ran away, and Rocky never appeared as a Lost and Found item. But twelve
other cats showed up in the paper's Lost and Found. The normal was two or
three at that time, and suddenly it was twelve- the most he'd ever seen in
watching this for six months. So that made me think that a lot of other
cats didn't show up in the paper either, and maybe there was something to
For the few months I would look at the Lost and Found column much as you
would look at the horoscope. You know, I don't believe stuff, I just want
to see what it says, and there were no significant quakes. Then on the
20th of January, 1980, following the 79 quake, I got a call early in the
morning from my daughter who was just about to head for high school.
Daddy, Rocky's home. Six months he'd been gone. I picture this poor
emaciated scrawny cat crawling in out of the woods or something. He was
sleek and fat,. Somebody had taken excellent care of him. But he'd fled
that veritable paradise four days before the next five magnitude quake in
the Bay Area.
It didn't matter which home he was living in, he fled it prior to the two
biggest quakes since 1911. And when I came home Rocky was there. He stayed
around home for one month, and then disappeared on the 20th of February,
two days before the strongest February shake in the Bay Area. So we
haven't seem him since. Not likely to, but he fit the pattern. And from
that point on I became a believer, and daily, the first thing I turned to
in the paper, was the Lost and Found Column.
And I was startled this morning to see 21 missing cats, the most in one
year. That probably means a significant quake within three weeks.
David: When you make a prediction, what are all the different factors that
you take into account?
James: Basically, I look at the tides. So I have this tide calendar. I
have the almanacs, and I get the calendars that show the daily
fluctuations of the tides in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. Of
course, they're mostly peaked at the same day, although the amplitude of
the tide varies tremendously as you go north. Here the normal tide is
between four and four and a half feet, between high and low for a single
day, the same as Los Angeles. But up in Seattle the normal tide's about
eight or nine feet, and the peak tide's around sixteen or seventeen feet.
Here the peak tides are eight or night feet, and in Alaska the high tide
is thirty feet, instead of the normal fifteen or twenty. And, of course,
in the Bay of Fundy, where my wife was born, 55 foot tide.
So back in 1962, I'd just been at this like three years with the animals.
I noticed we were going to have a 8.9 foot tide on the ninth of January,
the highest I've ever seen. Year after year, the highest would be 8.4,
8.5, next year it's going to 8.3, so 8.9 is a tremendous tide. I expected
we'd have a quake around here during that seismic window, and we didn't.
But back in New Brunswick on the next Bay of Fundy they had a 5.9, the
strongest in 126 years. And that previous one was a time of extremely high
tide. In fact, it was covered in the world literature on tides.
So that summer we went back to visit my wife's folks, and I stopped off at
the university. We were in a window there, and I was noticing the
seismograph in the university hall suddenly began to bang and bang. It was
a 7.0 magnitude quake in Panama, and I predicted that the world would see
a 7 during that period. Normally you get one 7 a month. So if you have an
8 day period, you have a one in four chance of being right that hit the
So I called the Geology Department, and the geologist came down to talk
me. I said, how do you do? I'm a geologist from California, and I have an
idea about timing of earthquakes in general, and yours in particular. And,
he said, well, it was on the day of this 55 foot tide in the Bay of Fundy,
the day of an eclipse of the moon, and these extra stresses from the tide
forces we think triggered a weak place in the fault. I said, well,
congratulations, that's my same idea. I'd wish you'd come to California
and talk to some of my colleagues.
David: So that's what you think is happening. That there's a weak point
along the faults that's just waiting to happen, and then when the extra
gravitational pull comes, it gives it that extra nudge to just push it
James: Yes. My clearer picture involves three factors. One is the pure
fluction of this island earth up and down about three feet under the full
moon. We're pulled up about three feet higher. The earth is about. three
feet greater in diameter. Maybe it's six feet, on either side. But anyway
on one side of the earth it's about three feet higher than it was at low
tide when the moon's rising or setting. So just that fluction may cause a
change. Also the ocean tide is coming in and out. Every foot of water adds
a load to the earth's crust of about one million tons per square mile.
So if you've got six hundred square miles of it the San Francisco Bay in
the delta, and every six hours it comes in, six hundred times. Say it's an
eight foot tide, between high and low, a change of 8 X 600 X one million
tons-- tremendous shift of load. And boat-lines are parallel to the coast,
and a tide comes on. And it's on this block, and then it's on the block in
back there. It's a relatively fast period. It's like taking a wire between
your fingers, especially copper, and you wiggle and wiggle it, until
somewhere around wiggle ten and twenty, you get a quick friction, and you
get the metal taking a pop.
David: How do you see the relationship between that and what you think the
animals are picking up-- which you think is a change in the magnetic
field-- as being related?
James: Almost any rock on earth is going to have some magnetite in
it--spirel magnetic metal, the most highly magnetic natural substance on
earth. If you are panning for gold, most of the black sand is magnetite--
it could be chromite, franklinite or some of the spinels, which are the
most magnetic materials. But they're also dense, and very resistant. So
that's why they end up in the dregs at the bottom along with gold. The
gold is quite a bit heavier, but the sand-- after you wash away most the
quartz and the felsbar, the micas and these layer things, you got these
real dense ferrel-magnetic minerals in the bottom.
So you could run a magnet in gold pan and it'll pull away all this
magnetic material. And if you're lucky you have a little ring of gold
underneath that's not magnetic. So if you have a rock, and you put it in a
compressor in the laboratory, and you have a magnet nearby, it will change
its magnetic properties under stress. And if you heat or cool it, the same
thing. If you heat minerals too much they lose there magnetic force over
the curri point of around 570 degrees centigrade. So that's why you may
have heard that when lava comes out of a volcano, you reverse the magnetic
field, and they freeze that magnetic field within the lava.
The first work I did with the Survey was paleo-magnetic studies in
Montana, Idaho, and Oregon. These lava flows are stacked up nearly flat,
so obviously the ones on top are younger than the ones down below, unless
you've had a huge unusual fault. So you go deep down in these big canyons,
which may be eight thousand feet deep you know, Snake River Canyon or
something. You go down deeper and deeper, and you get these older and
older lava flows.
By getting samples of these rocks, and orienting them just as they are in
the field when you get back to the laboratory, you can see where the
magnetic field was when the lava cooled. So a recent flow of crater lakes,
crater moons, or Mt. St. Helens, and you will get today's magnetic field,
but when when you get down deeper and deeper, about 700,000 years ago, all
of the of the magnets were seeking south. There was definitely a shift,
very rapidly. It happens within a thousand or four thousand years. So when
the magnetic field goes through the null point, zero point, no ionosphere,
we get an area with a tremendous amount of radiation. It causes a lot of
genetic changes, and a lot of mass extinctions. New forms are created.
So there genetic changes at the time of a magnetic shift-over. Now it's
not like some people think, that whole crust shifts abruptly and brings
Greenland down to the equator or something. I mean, those people are
really not scientists, and they read this stuff and they think they hear
about this pole shift or something, and they think the whole crust shifts.
It moves slowly through plate tectonics, but it doesn't shift thousands of
miles in a week, or whatever they may think. So but then it shifts back,
the deeper you go, the further back in time. The pole has shifted
It's not that weird when you realize that on the sun, the magnetic poles
shift every two sun spot cycles, about every 22 years. So it just takes
longer for the earth, but it's not nearly as accurate. But it's a real
phenomena. And then in-between the pole is slowly moving around, so you
have to adjust your compass. Here, I guess was around 18 degrees, which 23
years ago was only about 17 and a half degrees, I think a declamation
between true north and magnetic north. If you go to Egypt, magnetic and
true north are the same, so you don't have to make any adjustment, which
explains partly why they could build the pyramids exactly north-south and
east-west. The Sphinx is facing due east at the rising sun on the first
day of summer.
So the magnetic field is a very important aspect. Now, I have an old
compass-- this is a compass here from Frigit, the Japanese Navy. See this
compass. North is right there, and it hasn't shifted from the north. Well,
I expect that it can, because I was getting calls from some kind of a
furniture factory or something, a fellow up in Aptos. He had a big
captain's compass in his study, set it exactly north, and he'd notice it'd
be off a half a degree or up to a degree and a half.
He reported that to the U.S.G.S., and they finally said, don't bother us
with that, there's absolutely nothing to it. The reverse magnetic field
does not change that much. They told him that he must have bumped his
compass. He said, I'm the only one who lives there, I don't bump it. But I
saw the change, and it would go back to normal after the quake. So he
started calling me, and he hit about four out of five. So I know there's a
local change in the magnetic field prior to quakes, and it can be read.
Now I also have an item that was sent to me Christmas time of 1974 called
a "Magnetic Stress Indicator". It was done by a fellow who just died early
this year, back in Missouri. If we line this up with the seven, so we know
we're looking at it, we can see it's about a 7.3, around in there. Okay,
it was originally at 6 when I first set it up, and it sat here for two or
three weeks, did nothing. I said, bad place. Or it just doesn't work, as
it looked like just kind of a phony-looking contraption anyway. All of a
sudden it went from 6 to 6.4, and the next day up to 6.6, and the next day
it dropped back to 6.5. That night we had a earthquake of about 3.8, about
four miles from here.
David: And you think this is what the animals are picking up on?
James: Yes. See, I could say I'm awful close to knowing that's what the
animals are picking up on, but there may be other things too. But I'm
convinced that that's one of the more important things. Another aspect is
homing pigeons. They've known for fifteen years or so that homing pigeons
have the mineral magnetite behind their eyeballs. Now this used to be
almost unacceptable that animals create minerals in their bodies. If they
get into streams, with all the various rocks which have magnetite in them,
but don't tell me animals can make it. Well, yes, you can tell me that
I used to raise homing pigeons. When I was in high school I would take a
couple in my nap sack with me. The little sweaty critters were kind of
disheveled, and I would pet them. Okay, you know there's my home? And they
wouldn't fly straight home. What would they do? As you've seen birds,
these pigeons at the Olympics and so forth. Instead of flying in a V-line,
what do they do?
They can have a flock of a thousand birds, like they do sometimes in
pigeon races. All the cages are released immediately-- pah, pah, pah,
pah-- and they finally begin to form in a big flock. And they begin to
circle-- three, four times-- and then they start to head for their various
Why are they circling? If you have magnetic material, and you move it
around in a magnetic field, you're generating electric current. So their
little pea-brain picks up on this sensitive magnetite moving around in a
magnetic field around the earth. Then they say, aha, north is that way,
and this is the way we fly home. But if we've just had a big solar flare,
pigeon racers will cancel all races. Pigeon racers pay close attention to
what they hear about the sun. Pigeons get lost in big solar flares, and
these birds are $1500 or more.
David: Have you heard that homing pigeons can find their way back home,
even if the home is moved?
David: During World War 11 there were these traveling caravans that the
homing pigeons lived on in conjunction with the military. Even though they
kept moving the bases, the pigeons were able to find their way back the
moving caravan. There's a whole chapter in Rupert Sheldrake's new book
just about this. Also near-blind homing pigeons are pretty accurate in
finding their way back too.
James: Oh, no problem. But if they put a magnet around their neck then
David: Oh really?
James: Yeah, a full-time magnet, unless they're old experienced birds, and
able to use the sun. But if they're at night, or in in fog, they're
helpless. Now, I'd imagine if they'd moved-- the birds aren't restricted
to one point, and they use their eyeballs, so if they recognize what the
caravan or the truck or whatever that that they live in looks like,
they'll go back to where they're supposed to. And if you're not there,
then they'll probably spiral out and look for you.
But time and again birds get lost after solar flares; sometimes just
during a great windstorm, or thunder and lightening, that same sort of
thing. They just sit down and wait it out. But the mysterious thing was
back about ten years ago I saw an article about this homing pigeon fancier
in Morgan Hill. I'd already had inklings about earthquakes and homing
pigeons, so I called him, and we're still in contact. I wrote an article
for his homing pigeon thing, because he's president of the international,
or national group, and then secretary for the local homing pigeon fanciers
for 30 years or more.
So I said, have you had any smashed races lately?-- which is one of these
times when half the birds don't get back, or they're very late. He says,
well, yeah we had one-- and he gave me a couple of dates. This was back in
1980, and they were racing in from in Nevada, and he said, gee, they
normally come in about four and a half hours. This time the winner took
six and a half hours, and some haven't gotten back yet. Well, they were
flying right over Mammoth Lake, just before the 92 quake, so the faults
there were under stress. Changes in the magnetic field, and they got lost.
So he said, but we're not the only place that gets these smash races. They
had a bad one last year in Los Angeles. So this must be about 82. 1 said,
what was the date? He said, oh, let's see, it was November 24. And I said,
my gosh, the day after Thanksgiving, and it was the day of this 5.8 quake
up at Mammoth and Bishop, that was felt in the Bay Area. I hear this pause
at the other end of the line. He said, Bishop? That's where the race
began. It was Bishop to Los Angeles. So that was the clincher for m e.
He said but we really had the worst smash race in our history a long time
ago. I'd have look it up. We got around 10% of our birds back. And I said,
what was the date? A week later he said, well, you still interested in
that date? I had to do a lot of checking. I went to his house, and he's
got volume after volume of the race records, the ancestry, and the wind,
and the humidity, and all this stuff on all these races. He said the worst
race we ever race we ever had was March 24, 1964. Boy the trembles went up
and down my back-- when you get one of these Ultimate Truth kind of
things. Yeah, that was three days before the strongest quake we ever
measured in North America, the Good Friday earthquake on March 27, which
was on the day of the full moon. So it all ties in.
David: Why do you think it is that traditional geologists fail to
acknowledge, or brush aside your work in earthquake prediction?
James: Well, I used to think it's just ignorance. They hadn't heard. They
thought I was just making this up. In each of these little aspects I've
gone to into with rather a skeptical attitude, because I'm a scientist,
and it's like-- show me. But when these little things begin to click, and
it begins to tie in. And if it gets positive results, how can you ignore
When we started to charge $1.49 a minute for quake prediction information
somebody wanted to sue us for being charlatans. So the sheriff's
department, and the D.A.'s office said prove it, because I said these are
the best earthquake predictions that I was aware of in the state. I'm the
number one earthquake forecaster in the state.
So I had to show where I'd predicted all 21 of the 5 magnitude quakes that
we've had around here. The last one didn't quite hit 5. 1 predicted we'd
have a 5 this summer. The newsletter that predicted it was down at the
printers the day this house shook. We had a 4.8 about five miles from
here. My newsletter was predicting we were going to have it, and it
happened. So I don't call that a buy, but that's a pretty close
prediction, and we haven't had one anywhere near that close nor big here
On January 15, 1994 there was a 5.8 down here in Tiger Lake, and it was on
the last day of my seismic window. That day out here was a windy day. I
was being interviewed by this new TV network- the Science Fiction Network.
They hadn't started up yet, but I was going to be on their show. So they
were interviewing me for a couple of hours or so, and they left around
4:00 in the afternoon. And they said, you still think that quake's going
to happen before your window ends at midnight tonight?
I said, yeah, sure. The conditions looked right. We had a lot of missing
cats and dogs, and the tides were high So that night at 10:40, just an
hour and twenty minutes before my window was over, we got this 5.5. It
came rolling through. They were still in a motel, as they hadn't gone back
to LA yet, and it scared the heck out of them. So when I got a copy of the
show, at the end it said, "while in Northern California Berkland's
predicted quake happened while we were on location." So that was pretty
I had another one that hit with the strongest quake-- there was an
aftershock over 6.2-- in 1984, the first 6 in the Bay Area since 1911. 1
had said it would happen in 1984, following the highest record rainfall
we'd ever had here in 1983-- seven inches over the all-time record of
1889. So that happened 1890. The following year on April 24 we got a 6
magnitude quake, so we broke that 1889 record in 1983. 1 said, boy, looks
we're due for the first 6 around here since 1911. 1 talked about that to
Seek Technology, and to the Campbell Chamber of Commerce. They've all
written that, yes, I predicted that it happened.
A couple of them pressed me-- okay, when? Just next year. But when? Can
you pin it down better? And I said, it will probably happen in March,
April, or October, which are the big earthquake months around here. Well,
what day? I said, well, I think I may know by the animal action just
before, and there are some other indicators, such as water level, and a
pattern of small earthquakes. There are about forty different phenomena
that tell you its getting close.
Well, we were in Hawaii, the whole family in April of 84. When I came back
I had stack of newspapers nobody gone through. I was backing through the
Lost and Found, and you can see where in 1984 1 got 41 missing dogs. The
next day a 6.2 hit. It was April 24th, the same day as the 1890 quake, the
earlier record rainfall here. So this one was April 24th, following the
new record. So I got all this print, and people saying congratulations.
David: Have insurance companies ever taken an interest in your work?
James: Yeah, they've given me calls. I'll tell you one of the happiest
things was when I made this prediction of the World Series earthquake in
89. Apparently it made a big difference to Lockheed Corporation. Last year
I got a call from someone who was working with Lockheed. He said, you know
Mr. Berkland, I've been wanting to call you for sometime, you saved
Lockheed hundreds of thousands of dollars. I said, tell me about it. He
said, well, you know when you made that prediction before the World Series
Earthquake? I went to my boss, and I said what about this guy? And they
said, oh forget it, we went to the U.S.G.S., and they said he doesn't know
what he's talking about.
But I thought it made sense, and I took it upon myself to batten down the
hatches on the solar panel where it was about to be shot-- the final
inspection to shoot this rocket out with a solar panel. It was all laid
out in a very vulnerable condition, he strapped things down, and moved
things apart, so when the quake hit, it was safe. Otherwise this
multimillion dollar array would have been badly damaged, I feel sure. I
think you saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars. I said, that's good
to hear. I wish I'd heard about it a little sooner, like when the county
was trying to fire me.
I was quoted in USA Today after the earthquake. After the earthquake a
reporter came out and says, well, what good does it do to predict
earthquakes? And I said, well, there's lots of people that want to know.
Maybe strap up their hot water heater, or stir up water. Make sure the
generator's good, or whatever. I said well, there's this lady in Campbell
who called me before the quake and said, do you think I should do anything
with my china and crystal. And I said, if you've ever seriously considered
doing it, now is the time. So she went to her china cabinet, took
everything out, wrapped it up, and put it in cardboard boxes. The whole
china cabinet toppled on the day of October 17th. So USA Today reported to
her, and she said, yes that happened. She said, I don't care if he reads
chicken entrails, he's been accurate too often for me to ignore. Six
thousand dollars worth.
David: But no insurance company has ever approached you more seriously?
James: There's not any reason for them to do it. It would cost them money,
and they get their information for free, by calling me on the phone,
asking me, what do you think? I've always had the remote hope that I would
be like a weather forecaster, and be on the evening news, just like the
If I get a little paper from Sonoma Valley, where I was raised and planned
to return to, the Valley of the Moon, Jack Lennon's home. Longrange
dry-day forecast October- November 1996. The risky days are the black
days. That's the thing that I think. Notice it says, neither weather
services nor the publisher guarantees the accuracy of these forecasts and
no liability should be devolve upon either. So they're saying these are
higher risks than normal, and this extreme here, this would be up around
October-November, so that's Thanksgiving time. The Thanksgiving day
earthquake of the year 1974 was the culmination of that year for me. I had
six out of eight in 1974, my first year.
The night before Thanksgiving day, The day before Thanksgiving I was at
the U.S.G.S. library. and I saw posted there that we're having a meeting
at the Pick and Hammer Club that night in Mountain View. I'd been a member
for six years of the Pick and Hammer Club, and participated in their
yearly frolics, their parody-satire of plays and things They have monthly
meetings were a lot of ideas come out, and occasionally turn into
meaningful papers. But it's a beer-drinking time, and everybody has a good
time. They hear a couple of papers, and see the slides, and so forth.
So I saw that that night, on November 27th of 1974, there was a meeting of
Pick and Hammer Club with the subject: Earthquake Prediction: A State of
the Art. Three methods: magnetic field, tilt of the ground, a pattern of
small quakes down south of Hollaster were suggesting that maybe a quake
was due down there. So I went to this meeting, But before I went I quickly
made a table of the several quakes I'd predicted that year, and showed the
only large earthquakes of the year, and where they fit with the windows,
even if I hadn't predicted them. I made a projection that these high
tides, with the eclipse of the moon on the 28th of February, just hours
after that Thanksgiving day is going to produce a high stress, and
probably a quake of four and half, give or take one.
So I asked the speaker if I could talk to the group when the three
scheduled speakers were done. He said, oh sure Jim. Bob Christianson is a
former head of the department over at U.C. Santa Cruz. So the meeting was
supposed to be over at ten, and it was still going on at 10:30. He came by
and said, Jim I have to catch you next month. I said, this is really hot.
Just give me five minutes. No, I'm sorry, it's really too late. So I
handed out xerox copies of my prediction, and what had been happening to
about ten people.
I'd driven up there with my former master's thesis adviser at San Jose
State, Bob Rose. All the way up we talked about my new ideas, and the
prediction. On the way back he said, well, too bad that at a meeting on
earthquake prediction nobody actually made one. And I said, yeah, I knew I
was in the lion's den. I thought at first about raising my hand, and
asking a question. then it turning it into my theory. But I chickened out.
So the next day my wife was fixing Thanksgiving day turkey, and to get out
of all the action. I took my young daughter, then about six over to watch
the movies at Century 21. While we were at the movies the predicted quake
hit. 5.2. It came rolling through the valley, the strongest around here in
about three years. It was nine hours early, but we didn't recognize the
quake, because we were in the movie watching the first run of the movie
David: With "sensoround". (laughter)
James: That's right, exactly. We thought it was part of the special
effects. So we see the movie, come out., and I turn on the car radio. It
said, yeah the quake was felt from Santa Rosa to Monterey and Madesto. I
said, wait a minute, we just saw Los Angeles destroyed. who's this Orson
Wells? No the real quake. Oh darn. it's only 3:00. It was supposed happen
after midnight. So I was nine hours off. In those days I would never open
up my window before the new or full moon. figuring we had a static
situation. We got to have the maximum stress from the maximum gravity, but
even the day before you could have the stress that the world hasn't seen
for six months or so.
So the fault doesn't know that tomorrow is going to be even stronger. This
may be enough to put you over the top tonight. So then I began adjust,
because also the Coyote Lake quake in 79 was a day early. I'd said the 7th
to 14th, and it was on the 6th. So learning from those two quakes, I now
open up the window up to three days before the new or full moon, and it
will close three days early. But it's depending on the tidal action. So my
seismic window always includes syzygy, the highest tides of the month, and
usually includes perigee. But sometimes perigee is right between the new
and full moon. That's eight days here, and seven
days there, and can't fit within the window. I want to include ocean
David: So you look at the tides first, and then the Lost and Found?
James: Yeah, a year in advance. I've already even been asked by the tide
table people, Top's Tide Table to issue next year's windows.
David: The tide tables allow you to do long-range prediction, and the
animals help you to narrow it down, to pinpoint more precisely when it
James: Yes. Also for past earthquakes I could go back and look. Like the
biggest quake in Europe that ever hit was in Lisbon in 1755 on November
1st. Just like today-- All Saint's Day. That's what Halloween is-- Hallow
evening before All Saint's Day. So all the people were in the cathedrals
when the 8.9 destroyed Lisbon, with all of its art and fine treasures
gathered from around the world. The people that survived the failing
buildings went to shore to get away from it, and this sixty foot wall of
water came from the big tsunami. Some forty, fifty thousand people were
killed there at least, and caused tremendous changes in Europe. It caused
lakes in Switzerland to slosh back and forth several times, and up in
Scandinavia, hundreds of miles away. Kant wrote. "don't talk about
earthquakes, you'll only encourage them." (laughter)
In some part of Germany, there was jeweler, working with fine magnet to
pick up little pieces of things. It stopped working the day before the
earthquake. The same thing happened in Tokyo in 1855. He had a big magnet
hanging in the window to attract people's attention. because he had
slivers of metal hanging on it. He's working on his jewelry. and all of a
David: Oh. it all came down at once.
James: Yeah, it all just fell. And he thought, what's going on? This
magnet's lost its power. Oh darn. The next days its got its power back. I
had a call after the Whittier earthquake from a little old lady in
Pasadena (laughter). Really. She said, I called Coltish. and they said
they weren't interested, but you might be. She lives in Southern Pasadena,
maybe five miles from the epicenter. Before the Whittier quake, she said,
the refrigerator magnets dropped off. She said, I've never heard that
I said, well, there are a couple of mentions of this in the book When the
Snakes Awake, and this Helmut Tributsch from Germany, from the Max Plank
Institute. He ran into the same problems about the same time I did. He had
relatives in Northern Italy, in a little German colony up there. He was
born there. And he's working down in the Andes, and heard about this
terrible earthquake that's killed about a thousand people. He went dashing
back up there. Luckily his family were still alive, but he lost some
And he got these strange stories from people. They said, a whole herd of
deer came down and clustered around the village the day before the quake,
much like they would do before a big storm. They'd come down off the
mountains. They didn't seem to have any fear of people. There were three
reports of mother cats taking kittens out of their homes, and depositing
them out in the shrubbery before the quake. One farmer was amazed to rats
and mice running in broad daylight just hours before the quake. He looked
for his five cats, and they were no where to be seen. They came back two
days after the quake.
So. he came to this country, gathered up information from around the
world. He showed how the catfish would jump out of aquarium. Deep sea fish
come into shallow water. Water wells would change. And he tried to
publish, but no publisher would handle it because the U.S.G.S. says its
nonsense. This is old wives' tales. It's worthless. We need these
multimillion dollar instruments. That's where absolute truth comes from.
He tried to publish in England. Same thing. So he gave up, went back to
Germany, and published in German.
When the Snakes Awake turned out to be such an excellent work that the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology translated it into english, and
published it on their press. It's so clearly written. Especially read
those first couple of chapters where he shows the persecution he received.
He said, I value-- just like I do-- I value my scientific reputation, and
I heard that this was considered foolish, and one should just keep quiet
about this. But, he said, when you hear incidents from your friends and
family who have no reason to try to deceive, and you realize the
implications this has for lives and property protection. then not to
divulge this arises serious questions conscience. So he took the only
Same as I did, my career had been really going, I was in many committees.
officers in all these clubs. But after earthquake prediction came in,
suddenly I was persona non grata, object of ridicule sometimes. I would
say, okay, I don't need any condescension from you. I mean, there's people
ahead of you to talk to. You still looking up cats? Yeah, I'll say I am.
David: Did you see in Science about two weeks ago there was an article
about slow frequency waves that are produced prior to some earthquakes?
James: Sure. Well, it's not really slow waves. It's slow movement. The
slow wave idea was twenty years ago-- that the p wave would slow down
relative to the s wave. It was fashionable, but it turned out not to work,
and time after time you see these rages come out. This slow wave idea is
just nothing but watching the creep. We already know about fault creep,
where the fault slips, often without earthquakes. You may not feel a
thing. Or you may get a small quake or two. But that's happening south of
San Juan Batisto on the San Andreas. But north of that, it's been, it's
locked, from 1906 to Loma Prieta. And in Loma Prieta the mountains moved
up about five feet, and sideways about three feet. Mountains are about
five feet higher now. Well. because of the slope, maybe three feet higher
than before the quake. So a lot of the growth of the mountain continues.
The activation is periodical. with abrupt movements, some of it is very
very slow, up and down, or sideways.
David: You don't think that's what the animals could be picking up on?
James: No, because we know the mechanism behind how they do it. We see
with the pigeons. And we saw, the last time that Humphrey [the whale] came
in the bay. Go back to the newspapers. It was 1980. On the computer you
can go back to all the local papers. In 1980 in October, the 23rd I
believe. Humphrey came in the bay after not having been here for five
years or so. And I said, oh boy. when whales get disoriented it often
means a quake is due. He was here for three days.
He got stuck in the mud at Candlestick Park, and people went out at night
and covered him with blankets, and kept him wet him and everything. All
the people tried to preserve Humphrey, and they did. They hauled him off
the mud bank, and the next day he cruised out the Gold Gate Bridge. So a
lot of people took pictures of Humphrey. and he waved his giant flukes
goodbye to San Francisco. This picture was in the paper right next to a
column that read 5.8 Quake Shakes Bay Area. Coincidence, coincidence. all
David: Have you found that there are some animals that are more sensitive
James: The Chinese think the pheasants are the about the best. The
Japanese like catfish, because in their myths a catfish is supposed to be
what's holding up the earth, and it becomes disturbed underneath. When it
gets disturbed that's when the earth shakes. Nobody knows exactly what the
barbells-- the whiskers on a catfish-- do. They're probably sensitive to
the electromagnetic field. Sharks pick up changes in the magnetic field,
so they can pick up prey in pure darkness. We all have a field around us,
the so-called aura.
I had a very good friend come here, and unbeknownst to him we had a
surprise party for his fortieth birthday. It was on the Saturday before
the Loma Prieta quake, and it would supposedly we were just going to
surprise him. His wife had been preparing this for two months. A year or
so earlier she had been identified as having multiple sclerosis, and had
been improving after going to Germany, getting some shots, and doing some
special medication which isn't allowed in this country. She had thrown
away her crutches and her cane, and was doing quite well. She came that
night, and was in terrible pain. She had to hold onto the chair in order
to stand up. She tried to participate in the festivities, but was having a
great problem. Then the quake happened, and she went back to her former
David: So there are some people who are also sensitive to this?
James: Yes, and that was emphasized about a week later. I didn't put that
together at the time. A week later I got a call from a Doctor Eon, an
osteopath in Hollaster and Aptos, both cases right on the San Andreas
fault. He said, Mr. Berkland I've heard you're dealing with animals, and
so forth. I think we ought to set up a medical hot line. And I said, why?
He said, all ten of my multiple sclerosis patients deteriorated rapidly
before the earthquake, and they returned to their former level back after
the quake. So why did this happen? It became instantly clear. Multiple
sclerosis is something like AIDS, where the body's antibodies attack the
nervous system, the little myelin sheathing around the nerves. So you have
all these little gaps in the insulation.
David: And there's poor electrical conductivity between the nerves without
James: Yes, and you're definitely susceptible to stray electronic
interference. So your brain sends a signal, and all gets zapped out,
especially if you're in a field that's changing abruptly.
Then another even clearer picture emerged after that quake in New
Brunswick, Canada on the day of the extreme tides. The tides were so high
that the ferry boat was way above the slip. He had to wait for the tides
to go down. He had to wait for an hour or so for the tide to come down so
the ferry could fit into the slip, and drop the people and the cars off.
So that's one heck of a tide. A week after that quake I got a call. That
quake was on a Saturday, and on a Monday afternoon I got a call. Stan
Friedman, a UFOlogist, and his wife live in Madensa. Canada. where she was
born, like my wife. They both went to the university there, and he had a
science program. So he told some people at the radio station that that
quake fit my theory, and I got a call on Monday afternoon after the
Ah, Mr. Berkland did you predict our quake? I understand it fits your
theory. I said, well, I didn't predict the place. I said any
seismically-active area was more likely to get a quake at this time then
during any other eight day period just randomly chosen, but I didn't have
any local information. She said, what do you mean? I said, like the tilt
of the ground, water level changes, radon gas releasing, electromagnetic
field changes, and weird animal behavior. She said, oh that sounds
interesting, do you mind if I roll a tape? I said, no, go ahead. And all
of a sudden I hear, oh my god, oh, oh, oh.
For about fifteen seconds she's out of it. Then she says, that was really
unsettling. Now, where was I? Oh darn, I wish I'd caught my own reaction.
She hadn't quite started. Anyway she went on, and I told her animals
stories. The show was that night back in New Brunswick, which is four
hours later than we are. Meanwhile Stan was taping his own show, or doing
it live, down in the basement of that radio station, and the quake hit.
That looks like we'll get an aftershock, and the other guy was all
unsettled. So I just took it all in stride.
Ten days later I got a letter from a lady back there who had heard me on
me on that radio station. Ah, Mr. Berkland, I hope you have an explanation
for what happened to me. Otherwise, I fear I'm losing my mind. I'm native
to New Brunswick. I'M 48 years old, and I've never felt an earthquake
before. And I have never had any kind of sinus problems before. But four
days before that Saturday quake hit my head stuffed up, my eyes watered,
and I got a terrible headache centered in the middle of my forehead,
between the eyebrows. On Thursday I was seated with some teacher friends
at lunch, and I couldn't stay. I was just up and down, up and down. On
Friday I couldn't go to work, but I felt compelled to clean my house from
top to bottom. I'm normally quite content to leave the books on the dust
balls, and the dishes in the sink, and go to my studio and paint, she
But she was like pregnant woman about to give birth, got to get the nest
all ready for something. That night she was so nauseous she went to bed
without supper. The next morning she tried to get up, and she had the same
problem. She lay back on the bed, and she says, suddenly it was like
passing over a mountain peek. Why the pressure disappeared. The pain
disappeared. Then the first tremors hit. And I've heard similar things
like this, but I never had followed it. So I called to try get in touch
with her, and tell her she's not losing her mind, that some animals seem
to detect this. I heard of some people, and it might be useful. She should
check into the university back there. She has a gift.
Well, he did get in touch with her, and I didn't hear anything for three
months. On March the 31st she phoned me directly at the office. Mr.
Berkland, excuse me for troubling you at work, but yesterday all the
symptoms came back, and this morning we had a 5 magnitude quake, the
strongest in three months. She got fine for three months, then got another
5 magnitude quake. I don't believe I can take this anymore, she said. I
believe I'm going to put my home up for sale. Now hang on there, I said,
if you don't like quakes you'll find New Brunswick's a great place to be,
and the magnitude and the intensities is going to decrease with time. The
aftershocks almost show that pattern. Well, I don't know, she said. Beside
we're coming back to visit my wife's folks this summer, I said, and I'd
like to talk to you. Well, we'll see.
So, when I was in New Brunswick I got a rental car, left my wife her mom,
and went out to the ferry boat to see this woman-- Simmie Cuttyback. I
stopped at the grocery store and asked, can you tell me where the
Cuttyback's live? Oh yeah, you go over here, and then over a railroad
track, and then... So I pull in, and a guy's unloading the trunk of car.
And I said, good afternoon. Have I found the Cuttyback residence? Well, it
was until two weeks ago. They moved to Virginia. She did what the animals
do, She left her normal place of security because she couldn't handle what
was going on.
So that was kind of a unique instance, until five years later I got a call
from a lady in San Jose. And I wish I'd written her name down. It was kind
of busy afternoon when she called. She said, I've heard you're looking at
the animals and predicting quakes. She said, you know, I've been able to
predict earthquakes around here since I was in high school. I said, how do
you do it? She said, well, I get this terrible headache about three or
four days ahead of the quake. I said. oh, is there a particular place it
seems to be centered? Yeah, kind of in the middle of my forehead, kind of
low down. And I said, does anything unusual happen just before the quake?
Yeah, the pain disappears, and that's how I know the quake is really
eminent. I'm ready for it before get hits. It really tells me. I said, I
had this exact call five years ago, four thousand miles away.
In between those calls. in December of 1984. 1 attended the annual meeting
of the American Geophysical Society in San Francisco. That year they met,
and somebody read a paper announcing for the first time the discovery of
the mineral magnetite in the human body. Guess where it is? Right over the
pineal gland, where the mystical third eye is supposed to be, where the
Indian ladies paint the red spot.
David: So if some human beings are more sensitive to pre-earthquake
disturbances than others, than it probably varies among individual animals
of a particular species as well, I would imagine. I've heard stories from
people in dog kennels who were there before and during an earthquake, and
the dogs didn't appear to act unusual prior to the quake. I've heard a
number of stories like that.
James: Yeah, sure. Absolutely. Well, it depends exactly where they are
relative to the fault line. The second quake at Livermore was supposed to
be stronger than the first, and we barely felt it. But up in Napa it
caused the draw bridge to fail, and up in our house in Sonoma Valley the
well broke. We've had that well since 1943. It was serving two properties.
Suddenly they stopped from that 5.5 magnitude quake down in Livermore,
fifty or sixty miles away.
We claimed that as a casualty loss, and the IRS officer said, oh come on
now. Maybe if some geologist will sign a statement along that line. I
said, well, I don't think that will be too difficult. So I gave him a
research paper, and I found what happened before the 1906 earthquake,
before the Bakersfield earthquake, and before the Coyote Lake quake. Wells
and geysers definitely stop flowing or increase their flow, They
definitely change prior to the quake, and then reflect it after. So they
accepted it. Instead of having to pro-rate the loss, it was instant
casualty loss during the earthquake deductible. That really came in handy.
I think it was the first time I ever won over the IRS.
David: Do you have a theory to explain what people have referred to as
earthquake lights? What do you think they are?
James: Same thing-- electromagnetics. If you have a piece of quartz...
Here's a big piece of quartz crystal. Now, if you have another little
piece of quartz, and you rub this at night, this whole thing glows. It's
called piezoelectric, and this was not known until thirty years ago. I
went out on cross-coast ranges field trip with H. G. Anellan, who was 92
at the time. He's a famous old geologist from Nevada, who's written lots
about earthquakes. He told me two great things on that trip that I
One was-- Son, he said. when I was a young sprout, this old timer told me
don't take bay leaves and rub in your hand and breath them like that. He
says if you do that you'll get the worst headache you've ever got. And he
said, I didn't believe it, so I had to try it. He says, believe me it's
true. So I have never tried it. You know, sometimes you get under a
pungent bay tree and you really sense it. It doesn't feel smell too good,
so I believe it.
He also said, when I come down the quartz-site mountains there in Nevada
after sunset, I'd notice this light under my feet. It wasn't sparks. It
was the grinding of the rocks, and it was glowing. So I came home, and
I've got quartz from various places, like Brazil and Alaska. It doesn't
matter where it came from it, if you rub it they all do the same thing.
Tribal luminescence is the term for this. The piezoelectric is the giving
off of radio signals like quartz crystals do. But they also are tribal
luminescent, a feature that's supposed to be only from unusual crystal
like tremaline, banitarite, a few rare oddballs. Quartz is the most common
mineral in the world.
How could this phenomenon never have been reported before? In fact, Vince
said, he had gone back to a geological meeting ten years earlier or so,
and met with Rogers, one of the leading mineralogist in the world at
Princeton. As he was in there getting ready to go, he said, you know
quartz is tribal luminescent? And Roger looked at him and says, what are
you talking about? I'm a mineralogist, this can't be. Yeah, yeah, it
happens with any kind. He said, well, let's go look. So they go into the
darkroom. Well I'll be damned says Rogers. And suddenly it gets into the
textbooks. But at the time that I talked with him back in about 1971 it
was not in any textbook. Live and learn. So old wives' tales are more
often true than not, and to just put it down because you're not used to
it, you haven't seen it, is not scientific. A lot of weird things happen.
David. Skepticism is only one of the requirements for science. The other
James: Sure. Enthusiasm. Keeping the ears, eyes, and mind open. Otherwise
you're on what call high science. High science is a so-called scientist
that's got himself so high up on the ivory tower he has lost touch with
the roots, the earth. He's working from memory, like I was asked to do for
my last couple of years with the county. They started making it more and
more difficult. Got out field-time notebook, fieldwork, smaller quarters.
You know, hint, hint, hint. Get out of here. So I couldn't do my job the
way I should've done. You have to get into trenches, across faults. You
have to see what the landslide has done, instead relying totally on
somebody else's work. I'm supposed to be reviewing somebody else's work in
So I didn't rely on my previous experiences and photographs, and things
like that. Preposterous. No geologist in the state ever was put on those
conditions of my last couple of years with the county. For the first
fifteen-- utter euphoria, I was just walking on clouds here. I was getting
almost twice the salary of what I'd gotten as an assistant professor. I
was participating in important decisions, and working liaison between
cities and counties, and federal and state governments. I was on various
panels, and was deciding who's going to be employed over there. Then
suddenly because of earthquake prediction I became persona non grata.
David: If you were given all the funding and manpower that you considered
optimal to create a full-scale, worldwide earthquake prediction network.
how would you go about doing it?
James: Oh I'd have a half a dozen staff, a couple of professionals, and
have an 800 line. Maybe more than one line, to take these calls from the
people with the weird animal reports and the headaches, and the lights in
the sky, and the rumbles underground. Around five miles from the Loma
Prieta epicenter. one month after the quake, the people in that area had a
survivor's party. Someone said, boy, you know, I can hardly sleep because
of these booming noises down under the ground for about a month before the
quake, You heard those too? I wasn't going to say anything about them. Oh
you heard those? There were sounds being generated deep down in the
David: Somebody told me that they heard the earth growling for around a
month prior to the Loma Prieta quake.
James: There you go. It's absolutely accepted. But the U.S.G.S. geologists
hadn't heard that. They may have read it somewhere, but they just put it
down, or just skimmed over it. Accepting new data, or at least considering
new data with an objective frame of mind, and not just buy everybody's
story. because there's an awful lot of garbage out there.
One night here on KGO, a few days after Loma Prieta, a leading officer
from the U.S.G.S. was on describing what could happen as a result of the
earthquake. This one lady called and said, I was driving north on Bay
Shore, by San Carlos, and I looked in the rearview mirror, and I saw this
rolling wave coming at me up the pavement. It was a few inches high, and
it went under the car with a bump, and rapidly disappeared up the road.
And David Ocompimer said, well, ma'am, I'm afraid that was an optical
illusion, because the actual ground motion was only a fraction of an inch,
and you couldn't have seen it. He tells her, but she said it happened.
Now, I saw it happen in 1957 with the Daly City quake. I was sixty miles
away, and I hear a big boom! I was in the kitchen, putting away the
groceries., and I thought a big explosion hit downtown. I go to the door,
and all of a sudden the groundwaves come in-- the first was a p wave, that
was essentially a sound wave. Then the s wave, which comes more slowly. An
s wave has set speed slower than the p, just like lightening and thunder.
You count to five, and you know how many miles away it is. The p wave
arrives, and then you count to the s wave. If it's five seconds, it's
about 25 miles away.
David: I can always hear an earthquake before I feel it. I hear a rumbling
off in the distance that appears to be moving closer.
James: That's the p wave. It's a sound wave. It's push-pull, push-pull,
push-pull, not a snakey S wave. So one goes five miles a second, the other
about three mile. So if it takes five seconds between p and s, it's 25
miles away from the epicenter. Ten seconds. about fifty miles away. So it
was about ten seconds by the time I put my groceries down , and I head for
the door, and this mmmvvvaway, the wavy drama hits. I look out there and
here's ten acres undulating like a choppy ocean, maybe up and down a foot.
I was kind of naive at the time. I was waiting for the ground to open. Let
me see these big cracks open up you know. And, yeah., nothing.
So after about fifteen seconds it just stopped. It's like you feel when
the total eclipse is over-- darn, I wish it lasted longer. That was really
great. So living in the country. the nearest person was about a hundred
yards away, talking over the fence with some visitor. Nobody was home so I
go up there and see these people and say, whoa, that was some earthquake
wasn't it? First one I ever saw. I was 27 years old. As a native
Californian, I had really felt left out. I had finally experienced a
pretty good jolt. So one of the ladies-- the visitor, who was apparently
from Eureka-- said, it was nothing we like we had in Eureka two weeks ago.
They'd had a 6.5. And so I realized then there was earthquake snobbery out
David: A married couple told me that during an earthquake back in 1979,
they both saw the glass in the door, waving like water.
James: Yes, no question. In fact, I saw the wave preserved in the frame of
a glass door in an unfinished house. It had fallen out, and it had a bulge
in it, a wave about at least an inch, clearly. It seemed to be waiting for
maybe the sun to shine on it. It was just going to pop with a little more
David: Why didn't it shatter?
James: It's the length of time you have. It's like Silly Putty. If you
pull it. it's like taffy. If you jerk it, it breaks. If you if you hit it
with a hammer, it shatters like glass. So it's the length of time you act
David: I remember being told as a kid that glass is actually a liquid.
That's why if you look at old houses the windows are sometimes thicker on
James: Yes, exactly. It's non-crystalline. Opal is a non-crystalline form
of silica. Quartz is a crystalline form. Then there's intermediate forms.
You can see if you run an x-ray, you get a beautiful high crystalline peak
on quartz. With the opal you just get a broad mound; the peak is going to
show later on. In between you get into estrobolite, high grade calcite,
which is partly crystallized.
So yeah, glass will eventually crystalize and shatter too. That's why it
doesn't survive very long in nature. if you see obsidian that's glass. If
you take a chunk of granite and cook it up to about 600 degrees centigrade
it would melt. If you take that granite melt and throw it on the ground,
and if you gave it maybe a week to cool down, it would be like a lava
flow, like ireilite, with maybe tiny little crystals begin to show. Maybe
give it a million years to cool under pressure you get vanities. So the
same chemistry, but it depends on the physical conditions that it went
through as to what kind of rock you're going to get.
David: What do you think you can do to improve your earthquake predicting
James: As I say, the more information the better. Now computers are
helping. I have been desperate for a long time to get a good graphics
David: What kind of graphic modeling is a computer helpful with?
James: Well, with all this data here. It's hard to see what's happening in
four cities at once, with dogs plus cats and lost plus found. As I say,
you start to see a lost animal showing up in the papers maybe three to
five days after it's gone. Here's how clear it is, and I did do graphics.
If you can see the visuals, here's the most missing dogs in the history of
the Bay Area from normal things other than quakes. Here's July 8th, 85,
that's 72. Then there's 85 missing dogs. Look it was only 36, 30 there,
and then it rapidly increases to 85. What's going on? The highest is 1980,
July see there 45 lost and 43 found, that's 88, and it's on the 9th of
July. So these are the two highest, the 88 and the 85. The third highest
was 81 missing on the 27th of October. Now if you go to the month of July
every year you'll see a very high number right around this period, and
often no quakes to explain it. And it happens in every city. Why? Because
of what happens here.
David: Oh, because of the Fourth of July celebration fireworks.
James: Yeah, it drives the dogs batty. We had a big Samilee out here that
ripped out our screen door about this time. After the centennial they
eased off on restrictions on fireworks, and now its gradually quieting
down a bit, so we don't see these kinds of numbers. Usually it's in the
fifties or sixties. But every year on the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, you hit the
peaks. Then it kind of wedges down, because some people put an ad for one
day, or three days, or two weeks. So I don't pay attention to the number
of new ads, but the total ads. Otherwise I'd be spending all my time doing
But I do notice that when you suddenly see an abrupt change it's usually
on the found side first. This is because the person immediately recognizes
this dog or cat on their doorstep is not their's. Also, in the last
fifteen years or so many papers have allowed you to put a found ad in for
free, a two maybe three day found ad. You can call then up right away and
say, we got this dog here in our garage, and it doesn't have a collar. So
you put it in free, that attracts other people to look at the Lost and
Found ads, and then you can put your ads in. It works well.
Before they did that you have almost no found ads, because most people are
not going to spend those kind of bucks for somebody else's dog. So you see
the founds pick up instantly because people recognize it. But the lost
side will wait a few days as people look around the neighborhood. and
finally after judging they might put an ad in. So every year-- and I've
back to July's in the sixties and so forth-- Fourth of July produces this
tremendous reaction of missing dogs. This is not so much for the cats, as
they're not as ear oriented.
David: Have you ever seen the Fourth of July numbers coincide with
preearthquake missing dog numbers?
James: Quake at the same type? Yes, and usually you get a double-peak.
They had a big one in Oceanside at the same time as they had one in Palm
Springs. So the LA missing dogs responded at about 86. So here, 44, 49.
See, it'd been down here 13, 14, 23, 20, 18-- wham-- up to 49! 1 didn't
get the numbers there, it may have been even higher, but here's the ocean
tide quake of 5.6. So we had 44, 49, 44, 28, oh the double peak doesn't
show there. Oh well. But Oceanside here, and Palm Springs right here. The
6.5 in Palm springs caused quite a bit of damage down there. A lot of
roads blocked by landslides and things.
The 4th of July is here. Now, meantime here's 64 missing on the 9th of
July. See, that's usually the date-- the 9th. It gives you enough time
after the 4th for an average to build up. Now, here it goes down. Now, see
when goes down-- this is what I'm saying, 64, 48, 48, and then back up to
62. That usually indicates there was secondary signal. I don't know that
we had anything that significant around here. San Palukay is right over
here with 2.9, but that's not good enough. It doesn't show up. But it
could have been this, because look at that one-- 6.4, 5.6 and 6.4 up in
Now, this was hot one. This was the Dog Days. I predicted a quake a here
in the newspapers. The San Jose Mercury News carried my prediction. And on
the day of this 5.6 that shook the Bay Area they said, "Berkland wrong.
We're lucky." Now, sure it wasn't centered here, but we had quake because
the ground shook. That's an earthquake- ground shakes. I said it would
happen within 70 miles, and it happened 160 miles away. But that's a
pretty good quake-- the strongest in Northern California for many months--
and to say, Berkland totally missed is bad reporting. I wouldn't call it a
miss, even though it certainly wasn't a total hit.
David: Do they generally carry your predictions in The Mercury News?
James: Not anymore. No they definitely ruled against it. The Morgan Hill
paper and the Gilroy paper. She was very good. and almost every year
they'd call me. Okay, how did you do last year? I'd give them a summary of
the data, and I give them a new window. One guy had gone to his professor
who in just a random way set up an eight day window based on the birthdays
of his students. In fact, he never reported his results. But that's fair.
You know, give it a test.
David. What's the most common criticism that you receive, and how do you
respond to it?
James: That earthquakes happen every day, and it's easy to predict them.
And I say, it depends on the magnitude you're talking about. Here's the
statistical data I have-- all the quakes between 1963 and 1977 from the
year 1979 by the U.S.G.S.. I did a hand count, and saw one 3.5 every 35
days, and one 3.0 every 18 days. Most of those quakes are really
aftershocks following a main event, so its hard to pick the timing of a
quake if you don't have something consistent. And the something consistent
is the periodicity of the tides.
I found the same phenomena in a book called The Earth by Ellis A.
Leacluot, which I discovered in an old second hand bookstore. It has some
beautiful etchings, and they showed the Ring of Fire. It was just a thing
of interest in 1872. There actually was a French edition in the 1860's.
Finally, when I got this idea about quakes, I suddenly saw this book up
there, and I said, I wonder what he thought about earthquakes? Well, the
study of the earthquakes, even those small earthquakes only detectable
through the delicate instruments of USA de Bailey, seem to occur at the
time of the syzygies, especially when the moon is close to the earth,
that's perigee. My idea-- 100 years before I had it. And he also talked
about continental drift, the Ring of Fire, and the relationship between
earthquakes and volcanoes.
He spoke of the age of the earth in terms of billions of years, and said
that the drift and debris found around the poles in the northern or
southern hemisphere was not the result of a universal flood. It was the
result of radiation. He supposedly had about five 20th Century
developments that he had developed in the 1860's and 70's, and was almost
totally ignored. His books were burned by the French mainly. He hated
Napoleon III so much that he took arms on the side of Russia against
Napoleon III, and was captured in the first battle. His books were burned.
Luckily I found one. But they didn't even have a copy of it in the
U.S.G.S.. So I wrote a paper about him, and the tremendous contributions
he had made. But Ellis A. Reclue's name has been reclusive. In fact,
Alfred Regner is given credit for talking about continental drift in 1912
or so. Then he pursued it until he died on a Greenland ice cap the year I
was born-- 1930.
Bregner never mentioned Ellis A. Reclue fifty years earlier. Could it be
because he was French versus German? Could it be that he was just totally
ignorant? But how could it be? Ellis A. Reclue was called the French
Darwin, and was considered to be the most prolific writer in the history
of mathematical physical science. But because of his persona non grata
status he doesn't get any credit. So in this paper that I wrote I
mentioned all these things he had done and how.
Just as the earth changes through a charming drapery of foliage over the
years, so the earth herself has her seasons. Through the slow lapse of the
ages, the continents and the cities change their positions on the surface
of the earth. He had it all down. So I write about it in Geology magazine.
Three or four months later somebody else talks about the creators of
continental drift, and he doesn't even mention his name. His book should
be reprinted. I've got my copy around here. So his ideas outlived him,
without correcting most of his critics. But they still never named him for
his achievements, and that's a real shame.
David: Have you heard people say that moments right before an earthquake
in a forest all the animals- birds and insects- get completely silent, and
everything gets really quiet and still.
James: Sure. Oh yeah, that's very common. I hear that all the time prior
to Loma Prieta. They said there was a deathly silence. That people just
suddenly say, what's happening? And it's nothing. (laughter)
David: What do you think is causing that?
James: I think there's a confirmatory signal. The first signal ends up a
week or two in advance for a moderate quake, but three weeks in advance
for a biggie. You were familiar the Stanford professor that set up
instruments near Aptos to detect natural ground signals, in order for us
to communicate with his nuclear submarine fleet 200 feet below the
surface. Once you go about ten feet below the surface of the water normal
radio waves are hopeless. So by extremely high powered, very low frequency
waves, you can get through the oceans and communicate with their nuclear
So in order to find when the maximum interference periods would be because
of radar or whatever, they went to a remote area of the Santa Cruz
mountains, coincidentally about five miles away from the epicenter. They
installed these instruments, and had current coming in there to record
continuously. And about two months before Loma Prieta this background full
rose up to a secondary plateau, and when the quake happened it knocked off
the power. So he went rushing up to what his instrument was like, and he
was amazed to see that about three hours before the jolt it went off
scale. It got nothing for a couple of days. He turned it back on it, just
as the aftershocks and settling down occurred.
So it's the first solid evidence of these extremely low-frequency waves
associated with quakes. But Tony Fraser-Smith at Stanford has been very
resistant to take a strong position on this. He's like, well, it's
probably coincidental, but we'll continue to study this. I'm sure, deep
down inside he feels this is very real.
David: These are low-frequency waves. That's what I saw in that Science
paper two weeks ago.
James: ELS, Extremely Low-Frequency waves. Oh, this was known for years
before by Marsha Adams.
David: She's on my list of people to interview.
James: Yeah, okay, you'll have a problem with her. She used to be very
open, and I used to communicate all the time with her. Our predictions
would match time after time. She would get extremely low frequency
signals, and I'd get my animal changes. And if I get high tide coming then
I'll make my prediction. Then about six or eight years ago she got some
private funding, and everything has become proprietary. You can't get the
time of day really anymore. I can't. It's very unfortunate, because who
benefits? Science is not benefiting. The populace is not benefiting.
They keep this secret just like those deaths in 1906. 1 could see it. If I
had been the county geologist in San Francisco county, and the president
or Governor Pardy or Mayor Schmitts comes to me and said, Jim, this is a
terrible terrible accident and a tragedy, do you think it'll happen again
in ten years? No. Fifty years? Maybe. A hundred years? Probably. Well,
it's a long time away. We have to look to the living, and to encourage
people to invest and to rebuild. It's a very important part of the
country, and there's just a remote chance of it reoccurring this soon.
It's not going to help anybody. So let's put this in time capsule, and
open it up in 25 years, so future people can know about what really
happened, not that nothing happened in terms of deaths or very little.
In fact, it was emphasized by William Randolph Hearst back in New York
American had about the quake. It's three hours later there. So he called
his staff in and said, they had this terrible quake in San Francisco, but
don't overplay it. They get quakes there all the time. Besides, it was the
fire that did most of the damage, and a fire can happen to the best run
city. So they showed a picture of the Baltimore fire of 1902 on the front
page. (laughter) Yeah, so they downplayed it.
What put me on to that was reading several things in the 1907 Whitiker's
Almanac in England- April 18, San Francisco was visited by a frightful
earthquake that caused more than sixty million pounds damage, five bucks a
pound, pretty close to four or five hundred million dollars. But more
monumental was the loss of several thousand lives, and I read that in this
old almanac and I felt potentially outraged. What do they think we are,
some kind of a banana republic? I know the facts. I've had ten years of
college, and I know that only a few hundred died there. What are are those
English telling us that we lost thousands- hah.
And then I ran into a great international disaster book, that said that in
Iran in 1968 they had a 7 magnitude quake, and it said at least six
thousand people were killed. There were some reports that 18,000 or more
were killed, which may be true, but we'll never know due the reluctance of
the Iranian government to admit to shoddy construction. Now, I said, I
don't have a problem with that, it sounds perfectly logical. But when they
tell us we lost that many, well, I wonder what the truth is. So I went to
library, and I said, have you got a microfilm of 1906?
Oh, earthquake time huh? And I said, yeah, I think there was a coverup of
the deaths. Oh. So I get there, and start cranking through. There's April
24th, and there's this article in The New York Times by one of the
reporters, James Randall of Buffalo, New York. In the first column,
interviewed in Kansas, Topeka, he said, any talk of mere hundreds being
killed is ridiculous. As anyone would tell you that was there, he said, I
saw several hotels and apartment houses, each with several hundred in
them, totally collapse, and only one or scattering of people got out, and
everything burned up right away.
So nobody could prove what happened. The military had it all under
Marshall Law. They moved out 220,000 people, about half the population,
anybody left that was idle there was put work hauling rubble and bodies.
The temperatures had hit 2700 degrees fahrenheit, and totally burned up
anything there. It melted cast iron, nails fused together. So there was
nothing left, and it became very easy to ignore all of those thousands
that died. The thing that gripes me is that they continue to this date.
I was asked to give a talk to Mensa down in Monterey, the same place where
the big plate tectonic revolution developed. I talked about the
earthquakes, and a little bit of all this for about an hour an a half.
Also Edward Teller was down there, and he got a lot applause. He must have
been 85 or so. He gave a nice talk. I was one of the first ones that asked
a question. I said, given all of your experience with the U.S. government
and secrecy, would you say it's possible that the U.S. government could
have kept secret a UFO crash in Rosswell, New Mexico in 1947?
He says, yes it's possible. So, I said, thank you, and I sat down. And he
says, one chance in a trillion. Everybody laughed, they thought well, he
really put me down. So, I wrote in my newsletter, I said, given that
overreaction to my question, two things are obvious. Either the eminent
Dr. Teller knows nothing at all about statistics, or he's part of the
David: In terms of the animals acting unusual, what's the time frame that
they usually start to act strange in?
James: A week to ten days. You can tell for sure from the fireworks, see?
They don't know what's coming before the fireworks. They know what the
fireworks did to their senses.
David: And we see there's a five day lag basically with the firework
James: Three to five days, yeah, when it starts to show. But it peaks out
about-- well, 4th to the 9th-- yeah, about five days for the peak. With
the earthquakes I'm sure there's a signal a week to ten days in advance.
And now I'm becoming sure there also may be a three week advance warning
for a larger quake. Then there seems to be a confirmatory signal about
twenty minutes before. Time and again this seems to come. About twenty
minutes before, suddenly all the horses and cows try to get out of the
barn, or the dogs begin to howl.
David: What else do they do?
James: For a couple of weeks before the earthquake egg production goes
down in chickens, and milk production goes down in cows.
David: What about human beings, or any other mammal that produces milk?
James: It hasn't been measured. But often married couples get on each
other's nerves very much. They get very edgy. Marsha Adams is the one that
told me about that. She and her husband would start yapping at each other,
and they'd say, uh oh, I guess we're in for one.
David: They'd get agitated?
James: Yeah, uncomfortable, disoriented. Well, not so much. I've had a
couple people tell me about losing their way in the city. They normally
just follow their nose, and this time they just really got disoriented.
Were you in Santa Cruz during the Loma Prieta quake?
David: I was living in Santa Cruz up into until the end of August of 89,
and I moved down to LA two months prior.
James: Good move.
David: Well, I was actually sorry that I missed it. I had been living
right in downtown Santa Cruz for years, and I moved away just two months
prior to the quake.
James: You wouldn't want to experience that. Knowing what I know now, I
wouldn't mind reexperiencing the Loma Prieta quake where I was-- in the
7th floor of the county building. Ironically, almost everybody had left,
and there were only about three people left on the floor. Most everybody
rushed out to watch the World series before 5:00. About three minutes
after 5:00 1 said, well, I guess I better head on off. It's going to take
a half hour to get home, and the game begins at 5:30. They had taken my
phone away from me at this point, so I didn't have a phone at the desk.
There was a phone at the public counter. I wondered if my quake had
happened, because I said it'd be a 3.5 to 6, and it could have been a 5
way off in the boonies and I wouldn't feel it. So before I left I just
dialed the Berkeley Seismographic Station. I got about two punches away
from the number selling what happened during the day, and the quake hit.
And for about a second and half I said, I got my quake! Ohhh...ahhh...I
mean, it was really crash, crash, crash. The bookcases, the rocks, and all
around the desks were crashing.
I could hardly stand up, and was swaying back and forth. Here I am trying
to hold myself up. Then the fear about what was happening at Candlestick
and every place else. I said, we've got a major quake here. This is a 7. 1
said, boy I hope it's closer to here than Candlestick.
And my goddamn coworker told me later that I had done a jubilant dance and
was shouting in glee during the disaster. He claimed that, even though he
went under his desk. If he was under his desk there's no way he could see
through this five foot screen that I was on he other side of. So how did
he know about the dance? I didn't do any dance.
David: Maybe just trying to maintain your balance and stay standing during
the quake looked like a dance. (laughter)
James: Yeah, maybe so. My excitation was less than two seconds. But this
was significant. That's one of the reasons I was suspended. It cost me
thousands of dollars, and I had an attorney. I thought, sure, I had a
great case against the county, because they said, well, his work is fine,
it's this prediction of an 8 magnitude quake that's supposed to follow
David: Maybe they thought you were causing the quakes? (laughter)
James: That's right. Well, I sometimes get that kind of reaction from
foreign born people. Oh, he predicts quakes? He does. Oh... Then they give
me a weird look.
David: Have you seen any evidence that tribal cultures or more indigenous
peoples are more tuned into earthquake warning signals?
James: Well, they have noticed this thing about earthquakes and eclipses.
David: The Incas down in South America.
James: Yeah. I looked at the history of the earthquakes in Egypt, and
about 40, 50 B.C. An army came up towards Thebes, after the capital of
Egypt, and a solar eclipse hit and a big earthquake hit. They said let's
get out here.
David: Are you writing a book?
James: I'm planning to do that, absolutely. We're supposed to move back up
to my home valley, in the Valley of the Moon. One thing, I've got 83
issues of Syzygy, each with a section on "Just for Fun", a section on past
earthquakes during that particular month, what happened during the
previous seismic window, what's expected to happen next window, and then I
have aftershocks. I'll talk other things that seem to be coming up, and
maybe have some additional quotes. I describe new books that are coming
out, or new agencies that have opened up. So each of these segments of the
Syzygy are amenable to collection- like the best of Syzygy. That's what
I've looking at.
I've had a lot of people come and say, oh I got to right your story. I've
had this happen six or eight times. They start looking into it, and I
predict some quakes for them, and they happen. Oh this great. Then they
will go up to the U.S.G.S.-- Berkland, don't mention that name around
here. And they'll go back to Denver, and they're very cooperative until my
name comes up. It's just one of those things.
You've heard about The Body Electric by Dr. Becker? He experienced the
same kind of thing- the deceit, the rivalries, and the animosities. It
seems to be fairly common, and it takes a long to accept that it can be
this severe. I mean, I was very naive, and for years I'd just spill my
brain and expect somebody else to reciprocate, and not hold back all this.
If you don't agree, fine. Let's hear about it. Let's discuss it. But not
to black flag them or deny that you told somebody something.
The worst was 1980, which was the total shock to me, because until then I
thought politics was largely out of science. I'd seen a lot of individual
disputes, like when U.S.G.S. denies somebody or keeps somebody out the
field for an assignment because they disputed on something. Little petty
things, but nothing that's important really to life and limb. So in 1980,
on November 7th, I looked in the Lost and Found Column and suddenly saw 14
missing cats, the most of the whole year. It didn't get higher for the
rest of November or December, so I didn't know it wouldn't get higher. But
I saw the most the whole year. It happened to be on the day of the new
moon, and the previous new moon had a disastrous quake to Algerians.
25,000 were killed.
Then there were no major quakes anywhere in the world for two weeks. When
they had the full moon, on that day there was the 300 killed in a 7
magnitude quake down in Mexico. Then there were no major quakes until the
next new moon. So I called Olga Colga at the Calistoga Geyser, because
this geyser normally erupts every 40 or 45 minutes. It;s a great tourist
attraction, right at the face of Mt. St. Helena. You got the mud packs,
the hot springs, the geyser water and all that. Here's this geyser
beautifully set up now, and it used to erupt about every 40 or 45 minutes.
They bought it in 72, and it acted very nicely until 1975.
Then on August 1st it shut off for two and a half hours. People couldn't
wait around, and they had to refund money. Where's your damn geyser? It
was very important to their livelihood. Then rolling in from Borville was
a 5.8 quake about sixty miles away, at least. Then the the geyser returned
to normal, and it acted normally for a few years. In 1978 it began acting
very weird again, and the Mercury News picked up on it. I had a window
open, so they said, look we want to fly you up there. And I said, great,
fly me to the geyser, and I'll talk to people there.
And here's a young student from Humboldt State, and she's monitoring the
eruptions. This was because the head of the geology department up there
had passed through the geyser a few weeks earlier, I guess, and it had
been erratic, and then they had a strong quake. So he said, hmm, maybe
there is something to this, and he sent her down record this. Within a
year he set up a infrared device that every time it would erupt it would
set off time signals in a strip joint to record it, so they didn't have
wait there and watch it all the time, which is great for the middle of the
night, vacations, and so forth.
So this two and a half hour gap on August the 1st was the longest they'd
ever seen. Then later on, when I was up there they had a two hour and
fifteen minute gap, and then they had a 5.8 quake up at Bishop. It seems
that their geyser is sensitive to quakes between the northern border and
about the 36th parallel, which is just about from Monterey up to Bishop,
and but not south of there. I am convinced that it was very active up
until the extreme rainfall of 1982-83, and then it seemed to flood it out,
eased its sensitivity, and I haven't any confidence in her since.
But anyway, by 1980 1 called her at noontime on the 7th of November, and I
said, Olga how's your geyser doing? We got the new moon, and the most
missing cats I've ever seen. And she said, Jim, I was about to call you.
This morning there was three hour and twelve minute gap, the longest we've
ever had by far. The previous record was two and a half hours. And I said,
uh oh, it looks like a big one for Northern California. And she said,
that's what we think. I said, I'm going to call the U.S.G.S. and predict
it. She said, if you don't, we're going to. So I hung up, and I told my
assistant to pick up the extension phone if you want to hear how you make
Up until then I was a member of Earthquake Watch, which was set up by the
U.S.G.S.. They had a contract with SRI to check missing or strange animal
behavior, to try to do what the Chinese did for four years. They had up to
eighteen hundred volunteer observers watching wild animals pets, and
domestic animals. And for the first time I used that 800 line to make a
prediction. I said, normally I would just say, oh, the dogs howled all
night, or we had twelve missing cats, or something like, and let them draw
their own conclusions. But this time three really separate things were
pointing in the same direction, with discreet kinds of information. So, I
said, based on these three factors, I believe there's going to be a 6.5 or
better in Northern California within a week. I recorded that on Friday at
The next morning, at about 2:30, a 7.2 hit Eureka, about 150 miles north
of the geyser, convinced me that this was really a sensitive phenomenon.
So on Monday I called the U.S.G.S., the SRI guys-- Dr. Otis and Dr. Kautz,
who were the two running it. And I said, hey, did you listen to that tape?
I'm on there. I predicted this quake, the first 7 magnitude quake I think
ever predicted in the country. Oh Jim, we're not in the earthquake
prediction business, we're in the animal observation business. And I said,
okay. They could file these away. Just advancing science, learning
So at the end of the year you normally got a print-up of your transcripts
on these taped phone conversations. The previous two years I'd gotten very
nice printouts. I talked about that, and sure enough this quake happened,
and that one happened. So I actually went and typed it
all up, and I sent in the results of my calls, which I hadn't to them
predicted quakes. But I had elsewhere, and it fit the theories. And in
this case I didn't get my transcripts.
So in July of 1981 1 call them. I said, did you mail out transcripts this
year? Oh Jim, we mailed them out in February or March. You should have had
them long ago. And I said, well, I didn't and that's why I'm calling. Oh,
I'll check into that. Nothing happened. So August I called again. Oh yeah,
I meant to check on that. I will Jim. So about two or three days later I
got a phone call. It looks it looks like the computer just overlooked you.
We'll send those along. And I said, fine. So a few days later I get nine
of my ten transcripts. The tenth one was the one in which I made the
prediction of this major quake.
So I call them and say, thank you for what you sent me, but what about
that critical one where I predicted the Eureka quake? Oh, I don't know.
We'll look into it Jim. So about a month later, almost a year after the
prediction, I called again. I wasn't really trying to harass anyone, but
every so often I'd think, hey, what did they do with it? So I called them,
and I got hold of a very carefully prepared secretary, I'm sure of it.
They stayed up nights. Oh, Mr. Berkland, I believe your call was on that
tape we lost in the mail. Oh, how many have you lost in the mail in your
four years of operation? Well, that's the only one, and I don't understand
it, because I remember wrapping it so carefully in Styrofoam.
What a memory-- after a year-- about a particular envelope. Where did he
mail it to? Menlo Park to Palo Alto. Well, such a long distance. You could
skid across the border you know. Oh, you could see how you could lose a
tape there. No way they lost that tape. They thought that the
documentation of the first prediction of a major quake in this country was
lost. They didn't know I had my assistant on the extension phone, who
heard the whole thing, and wrote a very nice supportive letter for me.
Plus the people at the geyser know that I was going to make that
So then I knew I was up against deceit. This is not science, and not
scientific, but I'm afraid it's marked an awful lot of past science, and
probably future science as well. Of all the bureaucratic bullshit, and
scientific censorship in this day and age, I can't believe this going on.
Maybe someday people will be more open. So that was my awakening. And I
said, I don't need this. I'll do it on my own.
David: I studied neuroscience in graduate school because of my curiosity
in the brain and consciousness. I went in with the assumption that the
universe was about 99% mysterious, and about 1% understood. I was amazed
to discover that most of my professors believed the reverse to be true,
and that we would have the final 1% figured out by the end of the year.
James: That was my attitude through high school and college until I got to
Berkeley. I always thought that all the answers were in the right book, or
in somebody's head. But when I got to submarine canyons, and started going
into that and seeing the motions involved in each theory, I said, hey,
there's things out there to find and discover. Really, that was the first
time I realized that there was all this science waiting to be developed,
and that really got interested. That's one of the reasons I was so glad I
got into geology, because there was so many aspects that effected daily
life, the future, and the past.
A children's hospital was looking at a case where a younger girl had lost
the tip of her finger, like when kids put their hands under a lawn mower.
Usually they would treat it, clean it, put gauze on it for two days, then
they would have the wound closed by microsurgery. Now somehow this little
girl got lost in the computer, or whatever they had there in the sixties,
and after like ten days they said, oh my God, we've forgotten her. She
came in saying, aren't you going to do anything with this? She still had
the original dressing on it. So they pull off the dressing, and the finger
bone and flesh are regrowing. They continue to observe it, and it regrew
with nail and all. There was not a sign that this had ever happened.
David: How far down was it?
James: To the first knuckle. It would never work below the first knuckle,
and you had to be no more than eleven years old for it to regrow. They've
done it hundreds of times since they picked it up. So finally New York
Children's Hospital there picked up on it, and they're so confident now
that if a kid comes in, and the finger's just dangling, they just snip it
off, and wait for it to regrow.
Probably the most intriguing thing about animals and quakes came to my
attention just before I had to address the Santa Clara County Surgical
Society. They had their Christmas dinner in 1989 after the quake. I was
still suspended at this time, so I was looking for any kind of income. So
they offered to give me $500 to come and talk to the surgeon's group, and
videotape the whole thing. Well, just before, in November, I was starting
to get calls from this lady near Watsonville, very close to the San
Andreas fault. She had a little toy poodle that was a fastidious extremely
intelligent animal, and he had a big Offish setter as a companion. He just
ordered this big dog around you know. It was, I guess, kind of comical.
But the little dog got to sleep on the bed every night.
About a week before Loma Prieta the little dog and the big dog
disappeared. They were gone, and had never disappeared all day before.
They came back before sunset, and the little dog was absolutely coated
with mud. He had this just forlorn expression in its eyes. The big dog was
fine. So she washes the dog, shampoos and dries him, and he's back on the
bed that night. Next day he's gone again, and comes back muddy. Okay, this
time you suffer. She spent all night in the garage whimpering. The next
day she took pity and washed him up again. A day or so later, gone again.
Comes back muddy. Then the quake happened. He seemed okay for a week or
so, and then before some of the larger aftershocks, he did the same
routine. She said what is going on with this dog? I said, I don't know.
You know sometimes dogs will immerse themselves in mud if they have to
draw wounds. It's a curing thing. But she just kept calling me, and she
had most of the larger earthquakes. It was very reliable. Then one day
just before I was leaving she called me and said, today he came back, and
I thought I was losing him. He was convulsing on the ground, chocking and
gasping, and he's muddy all over. Finally, I open up his mouth, and I pull
out a three or four inch long willow stick in his throat. What is going
on? And I said, well I'll have to think about that one.
So I was driving home, and I had just gotten to about the driveway, when
suddenly I'm click, click, click. I had botany in class in forestry, and I
recalled that willow is of the genus salics. And it just occurred to me--
is it possible that has anything to do with salicylic acid? So I look in
my books here, and found that willow bark contains salicylic acid, and
indians would chew it to alleviate pain. Have you ever heard of dog with a
headache? Is there any reason why they wouldn't? Is there any reason why
they wouldn't self-medicate. It fit 100%.
So I called my daughter, who was studying animal psychology at UCLA, and I
asked her to check with a couple of her professors to see if this idea
sounded reasonable. She said, oh Dad, I'd be embarrassed to even say
anything like that. I said, lay it on me, I can handle it. So about a half
an hour, maybe an hour before I had to go down and give this talk she
called me. You know Dad, she said, I can't believe it. They said it
sounded perfectly reasonable. I said great, and then went off to give my
talk. Well, I went on like I usually do for an hour and a half, but the
one thing that drew more table-talk, and caught their attention more than
anything else, was what I had to say about that incident. So I have no
doubt that some animals get headaches, in relation to earthquakes, just
like the nine people I know about now who have had it.
I was telling the first two stories I had after the Loma Prieta quake to a
Time-Life photographer, who had come down from Marin County to interview
me. He'd seen me on channel 2 the day after the quake, about the time I
was suspended, so I guess it was about a week after the quake. I was on
their noontime show, and he had seen me. He called me on the phone, and
said, I'd like come down and interview. I said fine. So he came around
four in the afternoon, left around midnight, and we had dinner and
everything. He said that he's always been interested in earthquakes, and
natural science stuff, so I was telling the story about the gal in New
Brunswick, followed by the gal in San Jose, and boy did he fix interest on
When I got those two stories out of the way, he said let me tell you Jim,
I had the worst headache of my life four days before Loma Prieta. I was
living Advil, and it was really horrible. I was driving along the
Richmond--San Raphael Bridge, and I had an important meeting down in
Oakland on the night of the 17th. I was going to the bridge, and I
suddenly noticed that the pain and pressure had gone away. And I said,
whoa, that's really a relief. There's this important meeting, and I'll
keep my thoughts straight. He went about fifteen more minutes, and the
quake hit. Had he been a little bit earlier, he would have been on the
So these are totally independent repetitions of this
center-of-the-forehead headache that can occur a few days before the
quake, and end just a half hour or so before. And that's the only male
I've had. There was another chiropractor, a lady who lived in the Santa
Cruz mountains, that this was so bad for, that she gave up her practice
here and moved to Hawaii.
I'll tell you another animal story, which should have been on "Unsolved
Mysteries", because they kept me up there all day. I brought in all these
people with dogs and pets that had done reactions before the quakes, and
all of us wound up on the cutting room floor, because they were only
interested in Irving Browning's prediction of a big quake to hit the
midwest in December of 1990, which I shot down. I said, I believe with
Irving Browning that tidal forces from the sun and the moon have a lot to
do with timing of earthquakes, but I don't believe that you can locate a
particular place in the world to have a big quake, a year in advance,
based on the tides. The tides are worldwide, and to pin down a particular
place you have to wait as you approach the statistical dates, and see what
the local effects are.
How can you pin down a particular place, where they haven't a big quake
there since 1895 when they had about about a 6. Then since 1811 or 1612,
the biggest ever to hit 48 states happened. It caused the Mississippi
River to flow backwards. There were some really great earthquakes of
around 8.5. So since I didn't go along with this frightening prediction,
they didn't want to hear about it. I said, I gave a it a less than one
half of one percent chance of that. I said, I wouldn't say that it's
totally impossible, but unlikely in a particular place.
Prior periods of the country have had similar situations to what we just
went through in the last two weeks, where its been amazingly quiet, which
may the quiet before the storm. I believe that within three weeks, we're
going to have a 5 plus, probably in the middle of November, but anytime
now-- because of the animal reactions, the magnetic stress indicators, and
the seismic quiescence. This is probably the quiet before the storm. It's
very frequent. It's one of the things the Chinese and Japanese talk about.
So up on top of the Santa Cruz mountains there's a stable, Sunset Ranch or
something like. They had a horse up there that was in 'the stable, in the
corral, and their neighbor had just driven up in a brand new Mercedes to
show it off. Suddenly, Andy, the horse, began to go berserk. He was
running around and neighing. He was leaping up, and his ears were back and
his eyes were wide. They said, he wasn't neighing, he was shrieking. Their
biggest problem was that it was the driest time of the year, and the dust
was going all over this new Mercedes. Suddenly the quake hit, and the
corral dropped down about two feet. Big cracks developed on either side.
Meanwhile, there were about six or eight other horses there which seemed
to be immune to this. It was only Andy that was acting up. Then finally
his fear was beginning to transmit to them just about the time the quake
hit. Andy had been very reluctant to walk along a certain path they would
take him for a couple weeks prior to the quake. He would get to certain
place on the trail, and then he would stop. They would have get off and
lead him over. After the earthquake, they went up along that trail, and it
had a big crack in it right where was he so reluctant to go.
I encouraged somebody to go out to draw this gag-shot thing, and put it in
the Syzygy about five six months ago. This other dog was a very big dog,
and he seemed to be sensitive to earthquakes. Before them he'd try to hide
in the bathtub. Then he would dig under things before earthquakes. That's
what he did before the big one, and before one of the aftershocks. The
night before, I think, he came in the middle of the night and got up on on
their bed. The husband (Dean) said to the dog, Duke, there better be an
earthquake coming, or Duke is history.
So in the cartoon you see the 3:00 a.m. alarm clock, and this guy. Here's
Duke going up. "There better be a earthquake, or Duke is history." But he
saved himself that time. Latter on he began to dig holes in the hardwood
floor. They put up looking at him for a couple of years after the quake.
Then they moved to Mt. Phoenix. Now, there's been a report, of course,
that Phoenix is going to be a seaport, after the whole of California
slides in the sea. I've had about a couple of lines on it. It suddenly
occurred to me, and I said in one of my newsletters, I've heard that
Phoenix is going to become a seaport. I think that's rather unlikely, but,
of course, I've always heard that the Phoenitions were very good sailors.
David: People have been saying for a long time that California is going to
slide into the ocean one day, but I've always thought just the opposite
could be possible-- that one day the rest of the continent could slide off
into the sea, and California will become an island.
James: That's the other thing I said. That's the first line that have
before I saw this one. Then I came up with another. You've been over El
Tamont Pass, or the San Bergonio Pass, one of these places where all these
wind generators are? So, I said, not to worry, because the minute we start
to slide, they're just going to turn on all those propellers.
David: Tell me about how you got suspended from the U.S.G.S..
James: I get in from this one day, and they say don't answer those calls,
go back and talk to the boss. I get back, and she said, Jim, I'm really
concerned about your recent announcements. Of what recent announcements?
That we're going to have an 8 magnitude quake next month. I said, I didn't
say that. I don't believe that. Where did you get that?
Well, the U.S.G.S. said that you said it. And I said, well I didn't. Maybe
you're confused with the false statement in the Mercury News that I was
predicting a 7 to follow this first 7. And I said, I already called them,
and they printed the retraction this morning. Here's a copy of the paper,
and I don't even know about that. So it was definitely a paper from the
U.S.G.S. that I claimed that I had predicted the World Series quake, and
now I was calling for another, an 8 to follow it. It's just preposterous
She tells me that I've got to explain this to the board of supervisors.
Meanwhile, she says, you better read this. It said: Because of stress
caused by recent announcements, so effective immediately you are
suspended, go home and do not speak to the media about earthquakes. I
don't know what happened to free speech. How long is this going to be for?
Oh, three or four days, until I explain to the board. It turned in to two
and half months.
So I immediately picked up the phone at 6:15 at night to call my wife.
Jim, you won't believe what happened here today. She said, I know all
about it. My friend just saw it on the evening news. She heard about it
before I had. You'd think that an attorney might see this as a ripe field
to make a name for himself, because these charges were totally false. I
could show that there was no evidence. So after about of month of hemming
and hawing they backed off the charges that I was predicting a larger
quake. Instead they said, he's been a problem for some time with these
predictions, he has messy desk, and he's behind in his work.
I was behind three days because I had taken vacation to the Banolian's
International Convention, and I'd taken a trip to the West Indies. I was
gone for almost a month, so naturally you get a little behind in your
work. I got back in in August, and so this was October, and I was three
days behind in my work, after being a month behind. So also a classic
charge- you're not available just when the county needed you most. They
sent me home. (laughter) Oh, and also you couldn't get along with your
colleagues and the public, but they later dropped that charge. We did
detect tenseness in your colleagues when we discussed your situation with
I wrote about a six page moment-by-moment explanation of this whole
theory, and my representative from the Engineers and Architects
Association said, oh no, we don't need that. And we lost the case. We
essentially lost the case, partly because, instead of going for a three
man board, we just went for one person. And the charges had dragged on,
and dragged on, and we had to go. We had our second one six months later,
and at that time, I was asked to start to testify. And my representative
somehow was on drugs or alcohol or something, I don't know. He just got
extremely nervous. He said, I don't believe I can handle this.
We hadn't had my side of it, so then they had to postpone it again for
another six months. So a year later, I'm already, I'd back to the county,
and tried to put up with all this crap. The gal, I guess, had forgotten a
lot of the evidence, and didn't have my written statement about what
When I started the 900 line in the early 1990 it was in The Wall Street
Journal. They interviewed me, and talked about it. Then they went to the
U.S.G.S., and a spokesman at the U.S.G.S. said we known this guy for his
entire career, and he's been nothing but a clown. So with that I went to
attorney, paid him $500 to write a letter. This was Pete McClaucy, who ran
for president a few years ago. He wrote them a letter and they realized
that these personal attacks aren't okay; you don't call somebody a clown.
I'm not a clown. I'm very serious scientist. I try to keep a sense of
humor about it. They used to say, Berkland's not a scientist, he's just an
enthusiast. So, I said, well I guess you've never heard of an enthusiastic
scientist. It was a little better than reading tea leaves, merely matching
two random series of events. I have never heard that celestial mechanics
was random, but they remarked that way. Okay.
David: Is there anything else that you think we should add?
James: We could go for about two, there days, there are so many exciting
Oh, I've got a copy of the latest Syzygy. I just brought it down to the
printers. This is 96, and I had told you I reported to the Geological
Society in the middle of December that the best window I'd seen in awhile
was about to open up between the 29th of December and January 4th of, at
about 7:30 in the morning. Bang-o it hit-- 4.6, the strongest quake of the
year. And 45 minutes earlier I had heard my recorded voice on the radio
station predicting this week. I'd said, there'd be an 8.3 foot tide. And
somebody's going to say I'm predicting a 8.3 magnitude quake.
So I wanted to get my tape recorder next to the radio, but before they
replayed the tape, the quake hit. And in that afternoon's paper, the
U.S.G.S. spokesman said, maybe the tides did have something to do with the
quake. The very next day he completely denied it. He said, well, no, after
all it's on a very active fault anyway. And the reporter said, well, what
do you think about that change, And I said, well, that comment is about
like saying the ten car smashup on the Bay Shore Freeway had nothing to do
with the cloud burst that hit at the same time, because it's a very active
highway. I mean, here you get a correlation, and you turn your back on it.
That does not silence. It's not proof, but it's evidence.
I hope you tune into the Art Bell show on Midnight, on Sunday he's on a
decent hour, 7-10:00. KSFO 56. Art Bell is one of the better interviewers
around, in that-- like you-- he'll let a guy just ramble, and insert
interesting little points. But he has gotten all the people in the UFO
business there, and earthquake predictions. I was on for five hours. One
night back on June 30th, early in the morning I had the ear plug in my
ear, and listened to Art Bell as I was going to sleep. Suddenly I hear, I
wish Jim Berkland would call me. So, whoa, I got up, and I put on the fax.
I had his fax number, and I faxed him a couple pages of my newsletter, and
I said, I'd be very happy anytime.
About nine in the morning I get a call-- hey Jim, finally got hold of you.
How would you like to be on my show tonight? I said, love it. Okay, you
better go take a nap before. So 11:00 he calls, and I'm on until four in
the morning. And I've got 1050 letters. I had said, if anyone wants a
sample copy of my newsletter send a self-addressed stamped envelope. So I
got 1050 letters in about the next two three weeks. But out of all those
people only about five subscribed.
In the case of the prediction regarding Washington last year, and this
year, the two strongest quakes in 31 years. More than half of my
subscribers came from there, because it hit them directly, right after on
radio and TV. We heard all the skeptics say, oh, it's impossible. Then
bang on they hit, and it's just so funny. But, you know it just keeps
happening. The Rebellious Geologist Insists Upon a Fair Shake, that's
going to be the title of my book-- A Fair Shake. Oh, and I've got my
epitaph-- Jim Berkland. Geologist. He searched for truth, but here he