“The Device”

The Device

My thesis is that strong earthquakes – magnitudes 5 and above – are frequently preceded by oscillations in barometric pressure. In order to measure these oscillations I built a device which enables me to record and study them over time. The picture below should give you an idea about the device’s construction and about how it works. If you click on the image it opens in a new window and you can zoom in for greater detail.

"The Device"

schematics for "The Device"

The device consists of a large tank with a circular hole at the front which is covered by an elastic membrane. As barometric pressure increases the membrane bulges into the inside of the tank (1). Conversely, when it decreases, the membrane bulges to the outside (2). These movements are graphed onto paper via a mechanical plotting unit that is connected to the membrane which is detailed in the next picture.

Plotting Unit

a more detailed view of the plotting unit

I have been recording with this device since 1997 and found out that there are four basic output patterns that are of interest for predicting earthquakes. You can see all of them in the following picture.

patterns produced by the device

"The Device" produces four interesting patterns

The careful study of my records suggests that pattern #1 tends to precede quakes that hit the area of archipelagos or single islands.

Patterns #2 and #3, however, are usually preceding earthquakes on mainland.

Finally, pattern #4 often occurs before quakes that have their epicentre under the sea.

I came to learn that there is a window of between 30 minutes to three days from the occurrence of a pattern to the actual event of the quake.

Unfortunately, my experience also taught me that earthquakes of magnitudes lower than 5 only very rarely are predicted by this device.

It goes without saying that these patterns can be easily identified even if the output is disturbed by variations in barometric pressure caused by local weather events.

So, why am I doing all this?

My objective is, with the help of fellow researchers – professional or otherwise – in this field, to set up devices like mine in earthquake prone areas all around the globe. If the resulting network of devices is centrally monitored, I believe one would be able to predict not only that there was going to be an earthquake but also where it would most likely hit. Having such a network would thus add a useful leading indicator to the tools at modern seismology’s disposal.

So, this is my appeal to all of you out there who take an interest in my studies: If you would like to learn more about how to set up something similar to my device or if you want to have an exchange of experiences regarding your own studies in this field, I encourage you to get in touch. I would be delighted to hear/read from you.

You can always reach me at paul@thequakewatcher.com

All the best,


Plotting Unit

a more detailed view of the plotting unit