Self-professed Loma Prieta predictor says it’s time for a temblor 

A retired geologist who said he was suspended from his job as a geologist for making a prediction about the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake is forecasting another big one in the northwest this week.

Jim Berkland, who claims that mainstream geologists refer to him as a “clown,” said that the moon’s close proximity, extremely high tides and magnetic field changes affecting marine wildlife are all tell-tale signs.

“I predict a 3.5 to a 6.5 magnitude,” Berkland said. “The seismic window is between March 19 and 26.”

He also listed off natural phenomena that have recently boggled scientists, such as the 175 tons of dead sardines that plagued Redondo Beach, which he says are all leadups to a major trembler.

“I’ve predicted hundreds, including all 23 in the Bay Area since 1974,” he said. “I’ve been within one day of all of them.”

Berkland is known for stating just prior to the 1989 World Series in October that a major one was near. The former U.S. Geological Survey geologist said he was warned about making predictions on work time, and was suspended for two months.

USGS spokeswoman Leslie Gordon said scientists have historically studied Berkland’s associations, but they have not been statistically significant.

“Nobody has truly seen correlation,” Gordon said. “We don’t believe that it’s possible to predict earthquakes in the short term. We do a long-term forecast.”

According to Gordon, there is a 62 percent chance at any given time that there will be a 6.0 or greater magnitude earthquake in the northwest within the next 30 years.

“People will say, ‘Oh yeah, my cat was acting really funny.’ But every time that cat acts really funny and there’s not an earthquake, then what does that mean?” she said.

Berkland says, however, that both the tremor that struck Japan and one that stuck Alaska were either during or sometime close to a full moon.

“Don’t believe me, that’s fine,” he said. “But I’m sure I’ll hear from you after the quake.”

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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Kamala Kelkar

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Monday, Sep 15, 2014

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