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Yellowstone Journal:
Harbingers, Politics and
Jim Berkland, Former USGS Geologist

YOWUSA.COM, 5-October-03
Dave Wright

Yellowstone JournalIn this YOWUSA exclusive telephone interview with former USGS geologist Jim Berkland, Mr. Berkland discusses eruption harbingers and political motives concerning keeping the public informed on the increased Yellowstone activities.  He runs the popular www.syzgyjob.org earthquake prediction web site, was a USGS geologist for six years and worked for the Department of the Interior for more than ten years.

Why the USGS Hates Berkland

When it comes to what is currently happening at Yellowstone, Berkland immediately emphasizes two things.  First, the USGS is politically constrained from sounding an early warning.  Second, independent observers need to monitor large animals and to be especially sure to "watch the Buffalo."

Berkland has a much stronger track record than the USGS, including his incredibly accurate prediction of the World Series quake of 1989 that plowed through the San Francisco Bay Area.  What he has to say about Yellowstone may be equally prophetic, given that is his predictions of earthquakes have a 75% or better accuracy rate.  He relies primarily on tides and abnormal animal behavior.

Because of his accuracy in earthquake predictions, the scientific community, including the USGS, has called him a "clown," according to Berkland.  However, the large following of people who religiously visit his site and post on his message boards will tell you that this man is not a "clown" but an open-minded scientist.  Instead of depending upon data produced by manmade devices, he also relies on the time-proven signs of Mother Nature for predicting earthquakes and, quite possibly, volcano eruptions as well.

Jim Berkland (Geologist)
Interview, 1-October-2003

During the interview, Berkland recalled when he worked as a laboratory and field-worker throughout the western United States, including Alaska,for the USGS.  He said, "I had a good job with the USGS until I began to predict earthquakes." According to Berkland, "The USGS did not appreciate me very much after my earthquake predictions became more accurate then their own.  Especially when I correctly predicted the 1989 World Series earthquake that occurred in San Francisco, California."

Exploring Earth, 17-October-1989
Where was the earthquake?

On October 17, 1989 at 5:04 P.M., a major earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay area.  The earthquake was nicknamed the World Series Earthquake because it occurred just before a World Series baseball game was scheduled to begin in Candlestick Park.  Millions of people witnessed the motion of the earthquake on television.  Sixty-seven people lost their lives, and property damage was estimated at $6 billion.

Berkland said that, "The USGS was pressured by the politicians in San Francisco and in the surrounding areas to fire him or to have him stop predicting earthquakes."  Needless to say, and unfortunate for the USGS, Berkland no longer works with them.

BERKLAND — "The first tell tale signs that an eruption
is going to occur have already begun."

The interview then turned to the increased activity in the Yellowstone area.  When asked about Yellowstone, Berkland said that, "The area is more active than what is being reported by the USGS and other local news groups."  Berkland also mentioned that his area of knowledge is Long Valley, California (Mammoth Mountain), but when he began to receive information through his website about Yellowstone, he began to collect data from the Yellowstone area immediately.

When asked what would be the first signs of an eruption in Yellowstone, Berkland said, "The first tell tale signs that an eruption is going to occur have already begun. The signs are increased seismic activity, increased geothermal activity and ground temperatures rising above normal levels."

UUSS,1-October-2003
UUSS Webicorder (Seismogram) Displays, Yellowstone Region

Seismogram

When the Buffalo Run…  Run!

Berkland warned, "The final sign that will tell everyone that an eruption, or for that matter an earthquake is imminent, is when the animals of the local area begin to act in a confused and scared manner." According to his prediction theory, animals will begin to run in different directions, not knowing where to run to, because the magnetic field that the earth normally produces in the area becomes distorted due to the increased activity and pressures building below ground.

He summed it up this way, "all animals have some level of ability to use the earth's magnetic field for navigation (like birds and whales.)  So, if the buffalo, deer and any animal in the area begin to leave the area then that would be the last sign before an eruption and/or earthquake occurs."

Is There Something More
Than Buffalo and Deer?

While ground sensors can give the USGS one kind of data, overhead satellites can reveal much more.  They show the USGS a broader, systemic view of what is happening, and according to Berkland, "the USGS probably has the data for Yellowstone (from satellites and other sources) on hand, but because of political pressures within and without, the USGS has not made the information public."

This is a bothersome fact because according to Berkland, "The USGS has the ability to monitor Yellowstone and other volcanoes in the world from space with satellite radar interferometry technology, to watch the ground rise, fall and morph around volcanoes and other volcanically active areas."

While the average American can freely access seismic recordings on the USGS web site, they cannot access the information that is pouring in from these taxpayer funded satellites, and this kind of data is consequential, as recent news reports about this technology demonstrate.

Space.com, 7-August-2001
Super Volcanoes: Satellites Eye Deadly Hot Spots

The latest eruption of Mt. Etna in Sicily, which has destroyed a few buildings, shut down the airport and crept into a ski area, produces dramatic nighttime video of hot rolling lava and explosive fireworks. But compared to the known history of volcanoes and even its own past, Etna's 2001 pyrotechnic show is so far geologically pathetic.

Likewise, the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 was a volcanic sneeze compared to what scientists say America will experience one day.  And a mysterious four-inch -high bulge in the ground of central Oregon is, so far, little more than a conversation piece.

Sooner or later, geologists warn, a "super volcano" will strike.

The eruption of pent-up energy will cover half the United States in ash, in some places up to 3 feet (1 meter) deep. Earth will be plunged into a perpetual winter that would last years.  Some plant and animal species will disappear forever.

Even humans could be pushed to the edge of extinction.  Anthropologists suggest it won't be the first time.

But well before such a calamity, warning flags will likely show up on the computers of geologists around the world who monitor an increasingly useful stream of satellite data.

Space.com, 19-December-2000
Volcanologists Take to Space

SAN FRANCISCO — Volcanologists may take to the safe reaches of space over the next decade to improve their ability to safely monitor our planet's 600 potentially active volcanoes.

Volcano experts, speaking last week at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, said they expect no less than a minor revolution in their field in the near term, as they avail themselves of rapidly advancing technologies.

Among them is the satellite, which can keep tabs on far-flung volcanic activity from the relative safety of an orbital perch. And it can do so in a way that would be otherwise too daunting a task to accomplish on Earth, where volcanoes rise everywhere from the remote Aleutians to alongside major urban centers like Mexico City.

"It's very difficult logistically and financially to go out and instrument all of them," said Howard Zebker, a Stanford University professor of geophysics.  "Having spaceborne satellites, we can make these measurements with leisure."

In the opinion of this writer, the USGS should endeavor to be more forthcoming with this satellite data.  Like Berkland, this author is also a great admirer of the people who work for the USGS.  Beyond that, Berkland has no love for the upper USGS echelon because of the way they treated his theories and the way they hinder the dissemination of information.  This is especially true if the information is likely to have a political impact.

This is because if an eruption were to occur in Yellowstone the best place to be accord to Berkland would be, "…anywhere west of Yellowstone, outside of the 600-mile blast zone, should be fine.  The winds should keep the ash from going west."  He also added that he was concerned about the long-term ramifications on the economy due to a possible eruption.

Responsibility of the USGS

With all the technology at hand, all the data received on Yellowstone, and for that matter, on other volcanoes, the USGS is still not willing to inform the public of increasing trends due to pressures from on high in the political arena. The USGS needs to realize that we are all adults.  They have a responsibility to disseminate factual, up-to-date information to the public so they can make good choices.  We need to be able to exercise our God given right to choose what we want to do in our lives, and the only way to make a good choice is to be well informed. If people choose to stay in the Yellowstone area, even after all the signs are there for an eruption, then it is their choice.  But at least they have a choice.

I would like to thank Mr. Jim Berkland for his candid interview on the issues of Yellowstone and the USGS.  Because of the diligent independent work Mr. Berkland performs, we will be able to stay informed on upcoming activities in the area of geology.  Detailed information on his background and his earthquake predictions is on his website at www.syzgyjob.org.

So, until the next update, stay informed and be prepared.