The Great American Eclipse did not disappoint. A spectacular show, happening dead on the predicted times to a fraction of a second. That, of course, is because the predictions were made by science.
So how did pseudo-science do? Abysmally, is the answer.
On April 13th the science dunce Robert Morningstar posted this prediction (edited):
"A TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN & MOON CROSSING OVER THE NEW MADRID FAULT ZONE COULD CAUSE EARTHQUAKES DURING & AFTER PASSAGE on August 21st, 2017.
This is in keeping with my theory that the growing strength of the gravitational forces of Sun and Moon at the moment of a total solar eclipse and their subsidence afterward can trigger earthquakes on both in the area of totality and on the other side of the Earth with [sic; presumably he means within] 36 hours of the event.
My main concern is that the pinnacle point of totality will occur as the Sun and Moon line up over the New Madrid Fault lines as it passes over Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky and points East as it they head toward the South Carolina coast, which is a massive coastal fault zone."Robert is an expert in frisbee. He's so totally inexpert in astronomy that he doesn't realize that the gravitational attractions of the Sun and Moon combine once every month, in an event known as New Moon. Do New Moons cause more earthquakes? Well, they certainly didn't this July and August. Here's the data:
10th July: Full Moon
24th July: New Moon
7th August: Full Moon
21st August: New Moon & solar eclipse
No statistically significant changes in the general seismic pattern are attrributable to the phase of the Moon. The strongest quakes were as follows:
10th July, Full Moon: 4.7 MMS, Mexico
24th July, New Moon: 4.0 MMS, Baja California
7th August, Full Moon: 4.7 MMS, Costa Rica
21st August, New Moon: 4.3 MMS, Costa Rica
On each of those days there was a smattering of quakes in the continental US of magnitude < 4, including the usual Magnitude ~2 array along the San Andreas fault in California. On the other side of the world, the Himalayas saw three quakes in the 4.5 MMS range. There's nothing whatsoever in this data to suggest a link between New Moons and seismic activity. And bear in mind, lunar perigee occurred on 18th August--another event that pseudoscience likes to spread fear about.
Thanks to useful articles like this one or this one, and recent discussion on this blog, we now know that the gravitational attraction of the Sun is 160 times more powerful than that of the Moon. However, tidal forces are created by the difference between the pull of gravity on the near side of planet Earth and that on the far side. Since the Sun is 412 times further away from us than the Moon is, the differential is nowhere near as great. In fact, the tidal force generated by the Sun amounts to only 45% that of the Moon.
The best thing that could happen to Robert Morningstar at this point is that his fans stop paying attention to him. His information is pathetically misleading.
Update: Moving the goalposts
23 August: AM* has now posted this response:
"1. Within the last 24 hours since the tansit of the eclipse, there have been 13 seaquakes (in a rising crescendo") near Puerto Rico and Hispanola..So having specifically cited the continental USA, within 36 hours either side of the eclipse, he now wants us to consider seismic events in the Phillipines and Indonesia delayed by 72 hours. Even more hilarious, he draws our attention to a swarm of tiny earthquakes up the San Andreas fault--as if there was ever a time when there wasn't such a swarm.
Although most Americans stopped tracking the eclipse at South Carolina, it did dontinue its track SouthEast into the Atlantic. According to my theory, seaquakes were anticipated, there and on the opposite side of the Earth where the Ring of Fire is "tingling" with activity.
2. On our West Coast, The San Andreas Fault is also percolating with small earthquakes every few hours and the perturburances continue up the coast all the way to Washington State and Vancouver, BC.
3. The Seatle area where "America's Eclipse" began, has experienced 2 small quakes since the transit.
4. On the opposite side of the Earth, where I contend that an eclipse's tectonic effects are usually more pronounced (but delayed in time up to 72 hours), 4 earthquakes have occurred in the 24 hours since the Sun-Moon transit.
5. Earthquakes have shaken the Phillipines (1), Indonesia (2), and have struck as far East as Borneo (1), which had one seaquake off its northeast coast."
For info, here are earthquake maps for the ten days 10-19 August--events that by Morningstar's own definition are unrelated to the eclipse. In other terms, they represent "normal conditions." First, The USA and Caribbean region:
Now, the other side of the world:
These maps prove that ascribing events of magnitude 2,3,4 or 5 in locations like Seattle or The Phillipnes to the effect of the eclipse is ridiculous and fraudulent.