Solar Activity

solarflare20111104medIs there any correlation between solar activity (primarily flares that produce coronal mass ejections and/or geomagnetic storms) and earthquake activity on Earth? Well, the answer may be yes.

FACT1: An X2 class solar flare erupted on November 3rd of 2011 from sunspot AR1339, one of the biggest sunspots detected in recent years. According to the Spaceweather 11/04/2016 article: “The flare created waves of ionization in Earth’s upper atmosphere, altering the normal propagation of radio waves over Europe and the Americas.”

FACT2: On the evening of November 5th of 2011 at 10:53 PM (CST local time; Saturday) a magnitude 5.6 shallow depth (barely 3-miles deep) intra-plate earthquake struck a few miles northwest of Prague, Oklahoma. It was felt in all neighboring states and as far away as Tennessee and Wisconsin. The quake followed a powerful magnitude 4.8 foreshock that occurred in the same place near the surface (less than 1-mile deep) just past 2:12 AM local time that morning. According to the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS), the earthquake occurred along the Wilzetta Fault (also known as the Seminole Uplift), which is a 55-mile long slip-fault occurring where two adjacent crustal blocks slide horizontally past each other.

Since the large events in Oklahoma on November 5th of 2011, swarms of earthquakes have hopscotched through central and northwestern Oklahoma. Do they correlate with solar activity? In almost all cases, the largest events do.

Could sunspot activity have anything to do with worldwide earthquake patterns? Well, it certainly looks like that may be the case.

sunspotnumber20160411Through April 11th, there have been ZERO days in 2016 without sunspots, or “spotless” days as recorded by Spaceweather.com. For the last seven years, the numbers are very interesting. In 2009 there were 260 days without sunspots. In 2010 there were 51 spotless days. In 2011 there were only two spotless days. In 2012 and 2013 there were zero days without sunspots. In 2014 there was only one spotless day. And in 2015 there were zero spotless days. In 2016 so far, through this posting on April 8th, there have been no days without recorded sunspots. None!

I have not yet been able to find the sunspot numbers for the years 2000-2008, which would be needed to determine any correlation to the 26 December 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake of 9.1-9.3 magnitude that killed an estimated 230,000 people. But there is a dramatic shift between 2009 (with 260 spotless days) to 2010 (with only 51 spotless days), and then 2011 with only two spotless days. On 27 February 2010 an 8.8-magnitude quake hit the west coast of Chile, shortening the length of the day and altering the Earth’s rotational axis. Then on 11 March 2011 a 9.0-magnitude quake hit Japan, moving the big island Honshu eight feet to the east. That’s a whole island shifted eight feet!

Since I’m in central Oklahoma, naturally I correlate these facts with the 5 November 2011 Prague (OK) shallow depth earthquake of 5.6-magnitude. I’m still looking for historical sunspot data. If I can find it, I would very much like to see a chart comparison between sunspot activity and earthquake activity. Any bets on what I will find?


Find historical data in the Spaceweather.com archives. Just select the MONTH, DAY, and YEAR and then click the VIEW button. Go to: http://www.spaceweather. com

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