Quake prediction 'like a horoscope'

TANIA BUTTERFIELD
Last updated 12:00 18/02/2011

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A man who says he can predict earthquakes by the Moon believes Marlborough could suffer a shake-up next month, but a seismologist says the risk is no greater than at any other time.

Lunar scientist Ken Ring is predicting movement along an east-west fault line in New Zealand at noon on March 20. The only east-west fault lines in New Zealand were thought previously to be in Marlborough and North Canterbury, although new ones had become apparent in Canterbury since the magnitude-7.1 quake on September 4, he said.

GNS Science seismologist Lara Bland said Mr Ring's prediction was like a horoscope and the risk of quakes along the Alpine Fault was well known. "The Alpine Fault has been very seismically active and will continue to do so through March and beyond."

Mr Ring, who reportedly predicted a big earthquake in the South Island in a radio interview the week before the Canterbury earthquake, uses the movement of the Moon to predict weather and earthquakes.

He said on his website in September last year that there was a risk of another big earthquake in the South Island on March 20.

He predicted an east-west fault line was likely to be affected.

Mr Ring said he based his prediction on a number of factors to do with the the lunar cycle, which he said created a greater gravitational force on the Earth.

"It could be one for the history books," he said on his website.

He also believed that a large number of sun spots on the Sun indicated an increased risk of earthquake activity within the next few days, he said. "If there's an earthquake in the next few days in the South Island, there could very well be another one in March, as it is the same monthly cycle. "

Ms Bland said Mr Ring was correct that there was a risk of an earthquake along the Alpine Fault in March, but it had nothing to do with the Moon. "From a science point of view, the whole of New Zealand is a large area at risk to earthquakes and the South Island has got a whole lot of it."

If any unusual quakes happened during this period, it was because of the continuing effects of the Canterbury quake, she said.

Mr Ring's broad 500km prediction covered most of New Zealand and if something did happen, his prediction would be correct, but not because it was accurate, Ms Bland said. "It's like a horoscope."

 

BE QUAKE SAFE

Whether Mr Ring is right or wrong, it pays to be quake safe:Secure hot-water cylinders and header tanks. Check that your house is secured to its foundations. Secure your chimney with galvanised metal bands. Secure tall furniture to the wall studs. Secure woodburners to the floor. Store heavy objects low down. Use non-slip mats under smaller appliances and objects. Use plastic putty (Blu Tack) to secure ornaments. Push picture and mirror hooks closed. Have flexible gas and plumbing fittings installed. Develop a personal and family emergency plan for your household. Assemble and maintain your emergency survival items for your home and workplace, as well as a portable getaway kit. Practice drop, cover and hold. For more information, see getthru.govt.nz and eqc.govt.nz

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- The Marlborough Express

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