The ancients may have been more familiar with earthquakes than modern man:
... The earth shook and trembled... the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken... Then the channels of the waters were seen... and the foundations of the world were discovered.,. The mountains skipped like rams... [The divine power] removes the mountains... overturns them... shakes the earth out of her place.
In these and many more lines, the Hebrew Psalmists commemorated times of catastrophe. World myth contains thousands of such songs and stories. Some can be located in time; most cannot. But, little by little, the science of myth will move to help the science of the Earth; and geology will move to interpret mythology. Then the ages of quantavolution will assume a clearer shape.
The deep valleys, rifts, and canyons of the globe will soon here be assigned to the greatest of movements. The Earth cleaved; the continents broke up and were rafted into place. At the same time and on later occasions, many places on Earth sank into the depths. These might all be called earthquakes, although they are global events.
A great but conventional earthquake would be described as in the following testimony of a resident about the New Madrid, Mo., earthquakes:
The first shock came at 2. a. m., December 16, 1811, and was so severe that big houses and chimneys were shaken down, and at half-hour intervals light shocks were felt until 7 a. m., when a rumbling like distant thunder was heard, and in about an instant the earth began to totter and shake so that persons could neither stand nor walk. The earth was observed to roll in waves a few feet high, with visible depressions between. By and by these swells burst, throwing up large volumes of water, sand, and coal. Some was partly coated with what seemed to be sulphur. When the swells burst, fissures were left running in a northern and southern direction, and parallel for miles. Some were 5 miles long, 4 1/ 2 feet deep, and 10 feet wide. The rumbling appeared to come from the west and travel east. Similar shocks were heard at intervals until January 7, 1812, when another shock came as severe as the first. Then all except two families left, leaving behind them all their property, which proved to be a total loss, as adventurers came and carried off their goods in flat boats to Natchez and New Orleans, as well as their stock which they could not slaughter. On February 17, there occurred another severe shock, having the same effect as the others, and forming fissures and lakes. As the fissures varied in size, the water, coal, and sand were thrown out to different heights of from 5 to 10 feet. Besides long and narrow fissures, there were others of an oval or circular form, making long and deep basins some 100 yards wide, and deep enough to retain water in dry seasons. The damaged and uptorn country embraced an area of 150 miles in circumference  .
Earthquakes are most simply thought of as movements of large bodies of rock, whether of a few tons or of the whole Earth. The rocks flow, flex or fracture. There may be two sets of rocks that split and separated in times past, or which do so now: one moves up and another down; or one slips alongside the other. Or one or both sets move apart or one or both press together. Or one crawls over the other. Earthquakes may combine these movements, so that one, or two, or all may happen at once.
The duration of the movement may be of seconds, or minutes. There may be a single shaking or a series going on for days, and again repeated months later. (The ancients cried to heaven over interminable tremblings, as when the Egyptians suffered them during the days of the Hebrew Exodus.)
Electrical fields gather and play about the scene, beforehand, during, and afterwards. The world may seem to be glowing with fire in the distance. The ground sends up thunder and groans. It screams. It makes rattles like volleys of gunfire. Winds spring up and blow hard. Waters are agitated; tidal waves sweep over the land; wellwaters sink; rivers stop flowing or change their channels.
Animals often sense an earthquake in advance and show distress. Birds fly far, mammals run off, lizards crawl out and away. People are of course terrified by the trembling, they pray, they condemn their sins and those of other, they swear to reform, and curse their government; they help each other or stand stupefied or behave like zombies  . When the rocks move, man's world shakes and shatters.
Any force that disturbs the rocks causes the earth to quake. Pumping radioactive wastes deep below ground caused earthquake tremors in Colorado a few years ago. A dynamite explosion or a small meteoroid impact will cause one. Frequently earthquakes are associated with volcanos. A map of the earthquake belts of the Earth is practically a map of the areas of volcanism. The same forces must cause both. The primary force could be an old one, unsettled, that is still working upon the rocks. Or it could be a new force. But perhaps the old and the new force are identical: the new occurs now for the first time; the old is what occurred some time ago. Is not the earth very old? Should it not have settled down? Should not the rocks be stable? If so, then force from nowhere is impossible.
Most of what is known empirically of the globe comes from earthquakes -earthquake shock waves to be more precise. Hence, it is difficult to talk about how the interior of the globe causes earthquakes, if indeed it does. Seismic waves can be made to register their occurrence and intensity on seismographs set up to record and calibrate them. Many thousands of earthquakes, mostly non-damaging, are thus registered around the world each year. They shake the housing of a heavy pendulum which, itself unmoved, marks the shaking on a graph; a reading of the graph indicates the magnitude of intensity on the Richter scale.
The patterns of seismism around the world in recent history are easily described now. One simply follows the Tethyan world belt, the world-girdling fracture (noting a greater intensity where it passes beneath the land), and the island arcs off of East Asia.
Cases such as the New Madrid phenomenon mentioned above are less effected, although a Mississippi Valley "earthquake region" has recently been described. Applying the quantavolutionary ideas, one may point to recent "Ice Age" shifts of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, which certainly denote earthquakes, and to the great load of detritus that the lower Mississippi basin must be bearing: "Atlas Shrugs." For, in a brief period, a large part of the North American continent surface rushed toward the Gulf of Mexico in a slurry of ice, water, stone, vegetation, and soil. If enough freshwater entered the gulf to freshen it, as Emiliani found, enough debris would accompany the flood to burden the region and deform and fracture its rocks.
In a second indicative, a severe earthquake struck north of the Adriatic Sea in the Friuli region of Italy. Shocks were felt simultaneously in the Upper Rhine Valley just northwest of the Alps. We conjecture that a branch of the African rift crosses the Mediterranean, runs up the Adriatic Sea, and emerges from beneath the Alps (which have overrun it) as the Rhine River Valley, emptying its waters into the North Sea. All of this is quite recent. The Rhine canyon cuts far out into the bottom of the North Sea, revealing its very late sub-aerial existence. Dutch geologist Doeko Goosen claims that the Netherlands suffered earthquakes more frequently in earlier times [2A]. The Fourteenth Century saw the erasure of many areas and villages. The Alps, of course, make up a heavy load upon the underlying rifted area of the crust.
The greatest known earthquake was registered variously between 8.25 and 8.9, in Chile on May 22, 1960. On the Richter scale, each higher unit stands for a ten-fold increase in wave amplitude, and this represents a .32-fold leap in radiated seismic energy. The numbers move arithmetically from 0 to 8.9 but the magnitude increases exponentially; for example, an earthquake of 8.0 is 10,000 times greater than an earthquake of 4.0 and the energy release much greater.
The 1906 San Francisco earthquake might have reached 8.3 on the Richter seismograph scale, which registers the intensity of vibrations alone. Its equivalent in the more descriptive Mercalli scale would be 11 (out of a possible 12). The present top of the Mercalli scale reads: "Damage total. Waves seen on ground surfaces. Lines of sight and level distorted. Objects thrown upward in the air."
In the Assam earthquakes of 1950 "rivers were dammed; major floods drowned the countryside; mountains and hills split open and square miles of their surface covering were stripped off; rain came down as mud owing to the dust-choked air; and the geography of the region was permanently changed."  . It was recorded at 8.6; it is obvious that the measuring scale is a crude indicator of real events.
There may very well have been in recent times earthquakes of great force that do not register beyond the recorded limits of the seismographs, as conjectured by Chinnery and North  . Actually what is today meant by earthquakes is an earth movement defined by modern experience and measured by instruments calibrated to this experience. Because of the rareness with which earthquakes of magnitude over 8.0 on the Richter scale have occurred in the brief 75-year record of various measurements, "many investigators have concluded from this result that earthquakes... greater than 8.6 or so do not occur..." However, as it is likely that earthquakes of this intensity occur on the average once a decade, it is also probable that ones of greater intensity (with a seismic moment of 10 31 dyne-cm or more as compared with the Chile 1960 earthquake of 2.5 X 10 30 dyne-cm) can occur and may even be expected over a fifty or hundred-year period. If larger earthquakes occur they might cause destruction far greater than hitherto experienced and "may cause a considerable excitation of the Chandler wobble," a veritable, if slight, shaking of the axis of the Earth.
Most earthquakes have a localized shallow focus and originate within the crust, at or above the Moho discontinuity which may be regarded in quantavolutionary theory as the boundary of the Earth's shell and as the line of catastrophic slippage of the crust on several past occasions; but the Moho boundary itself was born of quantavolution, we maintain. It is both conventional finding, and quantavolutionary theory, "that some overall global factor, rather than conditions localized in the hypocenters themselves, is responsible for. generating terrestrial seismicity." 
The source of an earthquake varies. The seismograph stations of the world draw a fix upon a certain point that appears to be the focus of the earthquake, its epicenter within the Earth. The mantle of the Earth is a hot dense liquid. It does not lend itself to earthquake manufacture by simple mechanical thrusts and fractures. Are there substances in the mantle that are escaping and causing disturbances in the overhanging rock or crust of the continental and oceanic bottoms?
"Yes," says the up-to-date scientist. Chemical elements are decaying in the mantle and crust. They escape upwards and set up convection currents. These currents actually amount to so much force that, like the rising heat of a boiling soup, they can move the surface of the soup off to the side and down. But the forces of convection required to move ocean bottoms and continents is tremendous and many persons, including this author, believe that they cannot be assembled  . Earthquakes and earth movements are basically mechanical, and do not result from chemical or nuclear forces, as Cook has shown.
Still, the theory is fetching. For if one examines again the map of the rifts, earthquake zones, and volcanic regions of the world, one can see that there is an order or pattern to them all. They cut up the globe, and the pieces can be called plates. Some of the plates can be measured as moving very slightly; and it can be seen that lands that are now far apart fit together as if they once were of one piece. Since no other force can be imagined by our up-to-date scientist, the convection current force, upwelling and moving out laterally beneath the rocks, must account for rifts, seismism, and volcanos. But this accepted theory, it develops, may be incorrect, and we shall return to the issue of convection currents in a later chapter on continental drift.
An ominous kind of movement has always been the "conjunction," when two or more celestial bodies line up, especially the Sun and planets with the Earth. Earlier we mentioned the Gribbin-Plagemann phrase, the "Jupiter Effect."  . They chose to plot their scenario along the 600 mile-long San Andreas fault, part of the East Pacific Ridge system actually. Hence, the San Francisco Bay Area and many other thickly settled communities found themselves wondering when the "Jupiter Effect" will occur. "1982" or thereabouts, said the writers. At this time, which is passing as this book goes to press, Jupiter and Saturn were to line up with the Sun, Moon, and Earth and exert an electrical gravitational tidal force upon the Earth sufficient to upset the delicate juxtaposition of rock surfaces along the San Andreas fault. The Moon is small, and 239,000 miles away on the average. Yet it affects the waters of the world with its tidal pull, daily and twice a month or every 14.8 days.
The same writers go a certain distance into history, where a few records are to be found, and are able to discover devastation by earthquake close to the time of past conjunctions, specifically in 1800-03. The timing is a bit off, the disaster by no means a catastrophe, but the evidence points to the "Jupiter Effect" as the culprit. In a close encounter with a large celestial body, the earthquakes would be immeasurably worse.
Before Gribbin and Plagemann, Charles Davison examined the same celestial motions to relate them to earthquakes. He found increases in seismism at full moon, 14.8 days, and 19 years and also found a sunspot period every eleven years: when the spots were particularly active, rains and earthquakes increased.
Davison's periodicities may thus be added to the planetary "Jupiter Effect." They show how sensitive are the shell and rock layers of the earth, in their fractured condition, to impulses from the outside. They are clearly tidal, i. e. cyclical.
Davison also discovered that atmospheric pressure could be correlated with earthquakes. Here there were two cycles: a daily one and an annual cycle. Midwinter midnight and midsummer noontime were seismic favorites. Perhaps the atmospheric phenomenon may be connected with the vast diffuse sky lights that occur before earthquakes, arising probably out of a discharge of electricity.
If changes of atmospheric pressure trigger quakes because they represent a "true dead weight" of the atmosphere above a certain shifting point of focus, then this too is a tidal effect. If it is itself produced by electrical changes, then the direct cause must be assigned to whatever assembles atmospheric potentials.
Sunspots have been increasingly blamed for climate and earthquakes. Recently a 70-year gap in the sunspot record between 1645 and 1715 A. D. was rediscovered and called the "Maunder minimum."  It was a time when the Northern Lights hardly appeared; when the Sun's corona was relaxed and clear of disturbances; when C14 was increased because solar particles were not blocking in their usual way the cosmic particles that cause the C14 in the atmosphere; when tree rings became irregular and thin; and when the climate was called a "Little Ice Age." John Eddy, in announcing some of these findings, declared, "We've finally broken a block that held us back - uniformitarianism. It was an assumption we took as fact." And "We've shattered the Principle of Uniformitarianism for the sun." As yet a negative correlation with earthquakes has not been plotted; earthquakes should have declined in number and intensity.
The possibility also arises that some earthquakes are responses to increases in the amount of ice contained in the polar caps. This may be true today and also of any prehistoric ice-caps. Cook and A. Brown develop this line of thought  . Cook points to a correspondence between total annual seismic energy and a seeming accumulated energy in the growing ice of the caps. The huge vertical and radial pressures exerted on the earth's rocks by the caps may be taken up by the elasticity of the shell, or, on the other hand, and at least occasionally, the pressures may be alleviated by a shearing or refracturing of rocks even quite far away from the perimeter of the ice. We stated above that seismic origins are in global overall forces rather than in local areas of earthquakes themselves.
However, quantavolutionary theory leads us to suspect that, not the present ice caps, but rather the effects of the great catastrophic periods are still felt. Earthquakes are seismic memorials to ancient disorders. The rocks of the Earth will not rest in place until their very gradual tailing-off consequences end.
The major source of present-day earthquakes is to be sought along the lines of the global fracture. The fractures will be discussed later on; here they must be mentioned because of their connection with earthquakes. Taking up first the north-south Atlantic rift and following it from the Arctic to the Antarctic, one observes intense seismism throughout its length but largely in the middle of the Atlantic and little on both sides of the Atlantic Basin. The fracture, like an almost healed wound, throbs, festers and drips a little, pushing the continents left and right almost unnoticeably. Perhaps the rocks of the Atlantic Basin are lagging or stretching behind the Pacific rocks, which are being pushed into the basin of the lunar genesis. No theory is yet adequate to explain the difference in intensity and frequency between the Atlantic and Pacific seismism.
Wherever the fracture moves -into the Indian Ocean, across Asia, and laterally across the Southern Pacific and up the East Pacific, it bears with it seismic strains that develop as earthquakes of shallow focus. Quakes of deeper focus take place along a belt that circles the Pacific area of erupted crust, from New Zealand north and east up to Siberia, across the north Pacific and down the west coast of the Americas all the way to Antarctica. It is famous as "the Ring of Fire."
A second belt of shallow and deep focus earthquakes pursues a route along the old Tethyan equatorial region. It begins in mid-Atlantic, pushes through the Mediterranean and the Near and Middle East, shifts to follow the Himalayans where these break upon the Asian heartland, and swings down and across the south Asian seas. Here, where it overlaps the "Ring of Fire," it is intensively active.
But the Tethyan belt does not appear to cross the Pacific basin. It would, of course, have been erased if the Moon had erupted from the region. There thousands of seamounts stretch up from the ocean bottom, and long transverse faults occur. Rather, it resumes off of Central America where, indeed, there is a meeting of all four great earthquake belts -the globe-girdling rift, the Pacific "Ring of Fire," the westwardly moved Americas, and the old Tethyan belt.
Afterwards it proceeds into the Caribbean which may have been once coupled with the Mediterranean. It ends with the outlying islands some hundreds of miles south of its connecting link, from which I began here to trace its around-the-world movement. Geographers have matched Spain with the West Caribbean region; it is to be expected therefore that the Tethyan fracture of the south would tie into a transverse fracture to the north, thus circumnavigating the globe.
Earthquakes are seismic memorials, it was said. Today there are precipitators, but not important new causes, of seismism. The old causes that regularly occur are themselves significant reminders of a time when the heavenly bodies were much more active. Just as most religious holidays around the world celebrate or re-enact the terror of primeval catastrophe and the relief of survival, the rocks of the world move from time to time in reenactment of their ancient catastrophic motions, prodded by the ancient forces when these are stimulated by recurrent anniversaries.
But some still say that earthquakes go back in time without an increase in frequency or intensity. N. N. Ambraseys, a seismological engineer of the London Imperial College, concluded, after prolonged study of Near East documents, that the 3000 large and small earthquakes of which he found evidence in the period 1 to 1900 A. D. did not in this period show a decline of frequency and intensity .
His evidence is piecemeal, localized, undefined in regard to intensity, and barely usable. Only if there were enormously worse earthquakes early or late in the period could a conclusion be drawn.
By the first century A. D. the world was already seven hundred years past the last general catastrophe, as described elsewhere  , and the skies had been tranquillized. Still, in the several hundred years before Christ, many accounts of severe seismism were handed down. The Spartans, most doughty of warriors, were so deadly afraid of earthquakes that if the land shook in the middle of a war, they would quit and retreat home; this kind of terror suggests a legendary experience recent to their times  . Ellen Churchill Semple, writing of ancient Mediterranean geography, admits the profuse claims of risings, sinkings, chasms, and upheavals both in legends and in the scientific accounts of such illustrious reporters as Aristotle and Strabo. Not to mention Seneca, who declared that "Tyre is as regularly shaken by earthquakes as it is washed by the waves..." But she simply puts them down as exaggerations and furthermore "they erred as to the time element in the problem," for they did not employ the million or so years that she gave to the geological order of the Mediterranean. (We see, though, that her Mediterranean is only Quaternary!) Yet who can deny Pliny, the natural historian, when he claims 57 earthquakes to have occurred in a single year at Rome in 217 B. C.  ?
As we move back in time, the earthquakes increase in severity. Velikovsky points out that in the eighth and seventh centuries earthquakes were so numerous that when they occurred they were mentioned in a bare line of the astrological tablets of Ninevah and Babylon  . Nevertheless, "reports concerning earthquakes in Mesopotamia in the eighth and seventh centuries are very numerous, and they are dated. Nothing comparable is known in modern times." He quotes from a tablet of Babylonia, "The earth shook; a collapsing catastrophe was all over the country; Nergal [Mars] strangles the country." Further, "references to breaches in houses, large palaces, and small dwellings are very numerous in the [Hebrew] prophets of the eighth century." Neglecting such sources, a historian could claim that "the earthquake held a place in the religious conception of the Israelites quite out of proportion to its slight and relatively rare occurrence in Palestine." Obviously, some literalness has to be restored to the language of the Bible, as well as to many ancient voices, if a better natural history is to be written.
A destroyed city may leave no records of its destruction; a sunken land leaves only an outsider's report and a myth. A lifetime (19371975) of work was dedicated by S. Marinatos before the archaeological and geological world came to realize, perhaps too enthusiastically, what earthquakes and explosions befell the island of Thera in the Aegean Sea some 3100 years ago  .
Velikovsky's research is especially thorough on the "tenth plague" of the Exodus, which he places at about 1450 B. C.  "At midnight, there was not one house where there was not one dead" in Egypt, says Exodus. All the houses were destroyed. It was the unlucky 13th day of the month. "The thirteenth day of the month Thout (is) a very bad day. Thou shalt not do anything on this day," according to an Egyptian myth. Why should a single event be frozen into all behavior unless it was far more frightful than other earthquakes, no matter how severe? "The children of princes are dashed against the walls" and "cast out in the streets," wrote Ipuwer, an Egyptian scribe of those days; "the prison is ruined;" again, "the residence is overturned in a minute."
It would seem that in those days the Earth shuddered and cities collapsed across the world from Mesoamerica through the Mediterranean, the Near East, Middle East, India and China  . The greatest modern earthquake becomes insignificant by comparison with the disasters of the Exodus period. Even so, that is not the earliest period of catastrophic earthquake known to archaeology.
Claude Schaeffer systematically combed the files of all excavations in the Near and Middle East that were connected with the period from some 3000 to 5000 years ago. His conclusions are sharp: all known sites suffered multiple destruction; most of the time the destruction was by earthquake, often with fire, sometimes by unknown causes. In the city that he himself excavated in part, Ras Shamra-Ugarit, at least eight heavy disastrous discontinuities were discovered in the period 2400 to 1000 B. C., by his dating.
At five points in time a general destruction of the whole Near East occurred. Small earthquakes, that must have been very common, are of course not considered. They are hardly detectable in excavations. After practically all of these disasters, many years passed before a culture could renew itself or be resettled by survivors from other areas.
Schaeffer plotted the destroyed settlements on a modern seismic map that shows areas where earthquakes of intensities 6, 7, and 9 of the Mercalli scale are typically found. A number of the repeatedly destroyed settlements were located in regions of lower magnitude earthquakes. As noted earlier, this is true of Rome and Palestine, too. They are no longer so prone to earthquakes as they were then.
The destruction was so total in many of the cases which Schaeffer studied, and had such peculiar features -heavy combustion, for instance, and in the case of Troy II, "the Burnt city," which I too studied, both deep calcination and yet enough time for the population to escape -that the investigator is led to consider even exoterrestrial hypotheses. Invading troops, volcanos known to exist, and hurricanes acting by themselves are inadequate hypotheses. Deep ash falls might apply in some cases; unfortunately archaeologists before World War II paid little attention to levels of destruction; anyhow, where would the ash come from? Once again, the lack of data frustrates theoretical reconstruction; moreover, the less severe modern experience of earthquakes had led to simplistic and negligent judgements even on the part of groups which spent years on site.
Were the quantavolutionary hypothesis to be increasingly applied, the contrast between the past and present would become more marked. Systematic review of the field work of the past two hundred years is needed, as is also a thoroughly objective analysis of ancient legends and records. Too, technical awareness and application of new paleo-chemical techniques are needed in further field investigations.
We can conclude that earthquakes were greater in early history and pre-history than they are today. Further, the seismic experience of the past century is not adequate to assure us that earthquakes a thousand times worse in their effects are no longer possible. They then approach a new level of destruction wherein fire, flood, fall-out, avalanches, diastrophism and other effects assume major roles. Under such conditions the seismism itself tends to become a relatively minor feature and even to lose its name to much greater movements of the land, sea and air. The earthquake is supremely prominent today because the rocks replay more of the history of catastrophe than the atmosphere, the hydrosphere and the biosphere. No people has recalled total cultural destruction by shaking but perhaps all recollect its destruction by fire, winds and water.
There are parts of the world where the rocks, seeming so firm to the naive eye and touch, are criss-crossed by what must have been an interminable succession of surges and shakes. Cores of the earth under Athens were drilled lately in the planning of a new subway; most of them pulled up cylinders of the so-called "Athens schist," a rock formation that is a mass of small chaotic fractures. It is conceivable that millions of years of erosion caused the cracking; it is perhaps more readily conceivable that the schist was macerated in a period of continual trembling. Plato reports that Athens suffered severe earthquakes in its earlier history; springs on the acropolis were stopped and cliffs were toppled. According to Plato, the Attica of old was practically unrecognizable by his own time, which seismically is our own time, the flattened end of the seismic curve. 
Back to Contents
Notes (Chapter Sixteen: Earthquakes)
1. The account of one Godfrey Le Sieur, in E. M. Shepperd, 13 J. Geol. (Feb. 1905), 46-7.
2. U. S. Government Printing office, The Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964 (1970).
2A. "A New Model for Level Areas," Vitgeverij Waltman: Delft, 1974.
3. Lane, op. cit., 211.
4. "The frequency of Very Large Earthquakes," 190 Science (19 Dec. 1975), 1197-8.
5. Cook, op. cit., citing Benioff (1955).
6. See Chapter 24 below.
7. See Chapter 6, fn. 13.
8. John A. Eddy, "The Maunder Minimum," 192 Science (18 June 1976), 1189-1202.
9. Hugh A. Brown, Cataclysms of the Earth (NY: Twayne, 1967).
10. P. Jordan, op. cit.
11. As is argued by Velikovsky in Worlds in Collision, Chapter 8.
12. Nature (16 Aug. 1971), 375-9.
13. In Chaos and Creation (1981) and Worlds in Collision (1950).
14. E. C. Semple, The Geography of the Mediterranean Region: Its Relation to Ancient History (NY: Holt, 1931), Chapter 3
15. II Natural History 86.
16. Worlds in Collision, 274-8.
17. Chaos and Creation, 233-4.
18. Ages in Chaos (NY: Doubleday, 1952) and Worlds in Collision, op. cit.
19. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, and Schaeffer, op. cit. 20. ph. Negris, Plissements et Dislocations de l'Ecorce Terrestre en Grèce, leurs Rapports avec les Phénomènes Glaciaires et les Effondrements dans l'Ocean Atlantique (Athens, 1901).