Man's huge quake prediction is 'fearmongering' - GeoNet

  • 23/01/2018

A self-proclaimed earthquake forecaster is warning a large earthquake is about to hit - however Kiwi scientists dismiss his claims as based on shaky science.

It's a battle of the earthquake predictors. On one side is GeoNet, whose scientists have worked with a group of highly experienced international colleagues to calculate the likelihood of another earthquake.

On the other is Frank Hoogerbeets from the Netherlands, who predicts electromagnetic amplifications caused by planetary alignments will lead to a "significant seismic increase".

"There is the potential for a mega-thrust earthquake with magnitude 8 or even 9, most likely in the first week of March," he warns.

"Some of the planetary alignments are similar to those that occurred at the time of very large earthquakes, like the 1960 Chilean earthquake (M9.5), the 1964 Alaska earthquake (M9.2) and the 2004 Sumatra earthquake (M9.3)."

His video shows there will be several "very critical planetary configurations" with "no less than six planetary alignments".

While GeoNet says there is up to a 60 percent chance of a large earthquake hitting New Zealand within the next decade, it dismisses his forecasts as "fearmongering".

"There is always a threat to people in New Zealand. We are a seismically active country and need to always be vigilant. Planetary alignment or misalignment does not change this," duty seismologist Bill Fry told Newshub.

"Human kind cannot reliably predict earthquakes. There have been a few occasions where earthquakes have seemingly been predicted. However, these predictions have proven to be non-repeatable."

However Mr Hoogerbeets argues he has "quite a track record" and has successfully predicted major earthquakes.

"Perhaps we should take heed of Mr Hoogerbeets' latest warning after all," he states.

A major earthquake would affect all of New Zealand, and the risk has increased since the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake.

"Our beautiful country sits on top of a tectonic plate boundary. The forces involved in the collision of the two plates are huge and because of this we get a lot of earthquakes, some of them big," GeoNet says.

"A major event almost anywhere in the country would affect the whole society and economy because of the small size of the country and the interdependencies of infrastructure, logistics and business."

But it's unlikely GeoNet will take onboard Mr Hoogerbeets' advice.

"It is great for people to be creative and pursue interests," Mr Fry says.

"However, fear mongering is never good. It is not good if investigators try to convince the public that they can do something they cannot."