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Is California next?

California may be the next in line for a devastating earthquake, based on a recent history of massive geological activity and other naturally-occurring indicators.

Quakes in one part of the world help to trigger seismic events thousands of miles away, sometimes even months later. Hours after Japan was struck by a devastating 9.1 magnitude earthquake last Friday, a volcano in eastern Indonesia erupted, for example.

The Japanese quake is only the latest in a string of massive geological activity. Working backward, a line of large earthquakes taking place over the last 18 months can be drawn. On February 21, New Zealand suffered its worst natural disaster for 80 years when a 6.3 earthquake struck Christchurch, killing more than 200 people and causing much devastation. The same area was already weakened by a 7.0 quake that struck a few months before on September 3, 2010.

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Chile has recently been hit by massive quakes
Across the Pacific, Chile was stuck with a 6.8 earthquake on February 11, sending thousands into the streets but causing little damage. Almost exactly a year earlier on February 27, 2010, the country was hit with a massive 8.8 quake which lasted more than 3 minutes and ranked as the sixth largest quake ever recorded at the time. That earthquake triggered a tsunami, which destroyed several coastal towns in south-central Chile and damaged the port at Talcahuano.

Exactly a month before, Haiti was leveled by a 7.0 quake on January 27, 2010. Inadequate building design in the country killed an estimated 316,000 people, injured 300,000 and made 1,000,000 homeless.

All of these events occurred along the Ring of Fire, named by scientists for the large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions take place along this tectonic plate ridge in the Pacific Basin. Although Haiti does not sit on the Ring of Fire, the island nation is on a fault line directly connected to it.

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The Ring of Fire.
Two-thirds of the world's volcanoes are hidden under water and they are driving a lot of this activity.

So far, the west coast of the United States has not suffered a similar earthquake. But the erratic behavior of mass groups of animals, usually a good sign that one is about to strike, may show that the region's luck is about to run out.

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© AFP Photo / NZ Department of Conservation
A pod of whales stranded themselves hours before a massive earthquake hit New Zealand on February 21.
Thousands of sardines suddenly died on March 8 in King Harbor, California. While scientists cannot give a reason for the incident, some point to the mass stranding of 107 whales that occurred less than 48 hours before New Zealand was hit on February 21 as an indication that something big is about to happen off the coast of California.

These incidents are not without precedent. The UK Mirror points out another 170 whales stranded themselves in Australia and New Zealand prior to the devastating Christmas 2004 quake that struck in the Indian Ocean, resulting in a tsunami that killed more than 250,000 people across the region. At the time, Indian professor Dr. Arunachalam Kumar suspected a relationship between the two events:
Three weeks before the tsunami, he was alerted to the whales' deaths, and wrote: "It is my observation, confirmed over the years, that mass suicides of whales and dolphins that occur sporadically all over the world, are in some way related to change and disturbances in the electromagnetic field co-ordinates and possible realignments of geotectonic plates thereof.

"I would not be surprised if within a few days a massive quake hits some part of the globe."

Scientists are currently speculating that the cause of death of New Zealand's pilot whales is due to sound reverberations in shallow water.
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Jim Berkland
Some suspect an earthquake could hit the west coast of the United States within 3 weeks. Jim Berkland, who predicted the Los Angeles quake of 1989, has done work with the gravitational force of the moon and how that can trigger quakes.

Berkland notes that the Moon will make its closest approach to the earth in the last 18 years from between 16-26, climaxing at its closest point on March 19th. Many respected periodicals such as are quoting astrologists in their reporting of this "Supermoon" event, which gives the forecast less credibility, as astrology is not an exact science.

However, Berkland holds several degrees in the credible science of geology and has taught the subject in universities, as well as having working the field for decades, which makes his warning one to heed.

Under normal circumstances, the moon is close enough to Earth to make its weighty presence felt. It causes the ebb and flow of the ocean tides, for example. The moon's gravity can even cause small but measurable ebbs and flows in the continents, called "land tides" or "solid Earth tides," too. The tides are greatest during full and new moons, when the sun and moon are aligned either on the same or opposite sides of the Earth. University of Washington in Seattle seismologist John Vidale agrees that particularly dramatic land and ocean tides do trigger earthquakes.

"Both the moon and sun do stress the Earth a tiny bit, and when we look hard we can see a very small increase in tectonic activity when they're aligned," Vidale told Life's Little Mysteries.

At times of full and new moons, "you see a less-than-1-percent increase in earthquake activity, and a slightly higher response in volcanoes."

While scientists cannot predict exactly where an earthquake may happen, these indicators show that if one does not happen soon, it could still be triggered many months later.