Some quick statistical analysis of Moon Quakes #eqnz

Tonight Ken Ring was on Campbell Live talking about the “link” between the moon phases and earthquakes. Now a lot can be said for Ken Ring’s scientific (or lack thereof), and there is a good post on stuff.co.nz about how “the theory” is not at all scientifically based. But this is not the point of this post. Instead I have done some very quick and dirty statistical analysis of the phase of the moon and the number of earthquakes in Christchurch, Darfield and Lyttelton of the six month period from September 2010 to February 2011.

What I have tabled and plotted below is the date of the moon phases against the number of earthquakes that day. I got the earthquake data from the Geonet archives and the phases of the moon from the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand. The counts are for only the single day of the moon phase, however, if someone has time they could plot them for instance a day either side as well. However, this simple analysis shows one thing. There is no clear correlation between the extreme phase of the moon and the number of earthquakes.

1 Day Quakes
8 September New Moon 26
15 September First Quarter 10
23 September Full Moon 7
1 October Last Quarter 6
8 October New Moon 5
15 October First Quarter 2
23 October Full Moon 6
31 October Last Quarter 3
6 November New Moon 10
14 November First Quarter 10
22 November Full Moon 4
29 November Last Quarter 4
6 December New Moon 3
14 December First Quarter 2
21 December Full Moon 0
28 December Last Quarter 0
4 January New Moon 1
13 January First Quarter 0
20 January Full Moon 9
27 January Last Quarter 1
3 February New Moon 0
11 February First Quarter 1
18 February Full Moon 2
25 February Last Quarter 18

1 Day Quakes
8 September New Moon 26
15 September First Quarter 10
23 September Full Moon 7
1 October Last Quarter 6
8 October New Moon 5
15 October First Quarter 2
23 October Full Moon 6
31 October Last Quarter 3
6 November New Moon 10
14 November First Quarter 10
22 November Full Moon 4
29 November Last Quarter 4
6 December New Moon 3
14 December First Quarter 2
21 December Full Moon 0
28 December Last Quarter 0
4 January New Moon 1
13 January First Quarter 0
20 January Full Moon 9
27 January Last Quarter 1
3 February New Moon 0
11 February First Quarter 1
18 February Full Moon 2
25 February Last Quarter 18

Now the only interesting spin on the data I can get out of quick analysis is the table below. What I have done is totalled the number of earthquakes for each phase. I have then removed the September data from three of the phases, and the February data from the Last Quarter phase to stop it being polluted by many aftershocks after a big event.

Total Less September
New Moon 45 19
First Quarter 25 15
Full Moon 28 21
Last Quarter 32 14

So what does this show? Well nothing much. If you remove the immediate aftershock data it shows that there are more aftershocks on a New or Full Moon. However, this is an average of one extra per day per month. It is not for one second statistically significant.

If someone wants to do deeper statistical analysis go ahead. This took me about 30 minutes to construct when I got bored.

Thoughts and feelings on the Christchurch earthquake from Australia

On Tuesday afternoon the worst natural disaster to ever hit New Zealand struck in the form of an Earthquake almost directly under the city of Christchurch. My initial reaction was shock that something like this could hit Christchurch twice in six months, and then the realisation that this is much worse than before. It took an anxious 30 hours but I can report that all of my family and friends are safe, although some of them have had their houses destroyed.

The use of social media, in particular Twitter, has been really helpful in getting in touch and finding out about the status of people over the past few days. At the same time it has also meant that bad news and rumours have travelled incredibly quickly. Despite not coming from Christchurch at times it has felt like I have. New Zealand’s two degrees of separation means that everyone will know someone who is involved and collectively we are in mourning.

Unfortunately some people in Sydney (certainly not all) don’t understand this collective bond. I have had a really tough day at university where I have literally been told I shouldn’t care, worry, be upset, or shocked because my family is safe and that is all that matters. Or even better “you weren’t upset because of the Queensland floods, you shouldn’t be upset about Christchurch.” But I am upset, I am in shock, these are my friends, my family, and their community that has been torn apart and destroyed in this.

I am sick of people shooting off their mouths with comments like “NZ has poor building standards” or “whatever, these events happen” sort of comments. The reality is this: if you don’t know what is going on please don’t shoot your mouth off. It is hard being so far away, it is mentally tough, part of me wants to get on the next flight into New Zealand and put my hands to work.

Most people in Australia have never experienced an earthquake. I have only been in a few small ones – three I think. And look, New Zealand gets earthquakes, we are not called the shaky isles for nothing! From a young age we are trained in school to duck and cover in event of an earthquake, we have earthquake drills like you have fire drills. Ads regularly run on TV telling us to check on our emergency kits. And a few times a year an earthquake will occur that causes minor damage, it is a fact of life.

However, despite all this preparation, and all the warnings about that one day “the big one” will hit, when it does things still hurt. Sure the response both local, national and international has been swift and impressive, and many people have survived because of this. But this does not stop the pain of loss, it does not make it nothing to worry about, and it does not prepare us to be not upset – so if you don’t understand this please just keep quiet.

Kia Kaha, Christchurch.


Other peoples views and experience:

Photos: Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2 in Sydney

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This gallery contains 6 photos.

On Tuesday both the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2 super cruise ships were in Sydney. I went down to the harbour to get some photos after work. I have held off posting the photos for the last 24 hours as concern for people affected by the earthquake in Christchurch is far more important.

Both ships are absolutely huge. But what I was surprised by is that they were not as big as I was expecting. I think these days man’s quest for bigger, stronger, faster, further is almost complete so we are so used to seeing big things that they don’t take your breathe away as much as in the past. Having said that these ships dwarf everything else.

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