Seaquakes Cause Whale Strandings

seaquake kills whales.
Seaquake Kills 5 whales in 1946.


In 1919, a seaquake shook six heavy battleships from the Navy’s Pacific Fleet scaring the heck out of everyone. The big battleship New Mexico trembled from bow to stern.  This indicates that seaquakes are dangerous to both shipping and whales. America’s top seismologist warned in 1941 that every submarine within 500 miles of a major seaquake might be crushed like an egg. Scientists even suggested in 1946 that seaquake had caused a pod of pilot whales to lose their sense of direction.

In 1966, O.L. Martin, Jr. with the Navy’s Maritime Safety Division published a report on seaquake shocks. Look at page 59. Martin states:  “MARINE LIFE CAN BE DESTROYED BY A SEAQUAKE.”

Also, notice on the last page where he informs:

“Damaging seaquake. The ship may be thrown about in the water with such force that mast, booms, superstructure, and machinery as well as the hull, may be damaged. It is possible for seams to be opened to such an extent that flooding cannot be contained and the vessel sinks.

Many Navy Reports!

In 1967, US Navy Ensign Frank P. Rossi wrote “Seaquakes: Shakers of Ships.” (page1) (page2) (page3) (page4).

Scorpion's starboard diving plane not shownIn October 1968, the US Navy photographed the wreck of the USS Scorpion. They launched new seaquake research. The $2.6 million study pretended the admirals were unaware of any danger. They had many other reasons to cover-up seaquakes. But the sinking of the USS Scorpion with 99 US sailors onboard was by far the most important.

The Scorpion was a wreck looking for a place to set down before she even departed on her last mission. She had 109 unfilled repair orders. She had cracks in her hull visible to the naked eye. Her system to blow the ballasts tanks in case a power loss was broken. The US Navy knew it. But they still sent her on a death mission. The admirals were guilty of killing 99 US sailors. They knew then and still know today!

This is the reason they continue to cover-up the serious danger of seaquakes.

Earthquakes and volcanoes have killed more people throughout history than any other natural catastrophe. Most of this destruction occurs along seismic faults zones that course around our planet like the seams on a baseball. The faults that run under the seas and oceans are ten times longer than those on land. This means catastrophic seismic upheavals are ten times more likely to injure marine life than land-dwellers.

Natural Seaquakes and Volcanic Explosions Are Deadly to Marine Life and to Ships and Submarines!

Whale scientists are lying when they suggest that natural seafloor eruptions are harmless to whales. To convince you, the Deafwhale Society started digging through the digitized archives of old newspapers. We used keywords like earthquakes at sea, seaquake, undersea upheaval, submarine earthquake, earthquakes and whales, oceanic quakes, and others. This search led us to nearly 5,000 eyewitness reports from the crews of vessels that had experienced violent seafloor disturbances and lived to tell their stories (1700 to 1899) (1900 to 2009). We even have some reports in which oceanic quakes killed whales. There might be another 20,000 to 30,000 destructive seaquake encounters reported in languages other than English

We got the idea to search old newspapers from the first scientist to make a serious inquiry into oceanic earthquakes. His name was Professor Eberhart (Emil) Rudolph. Starting in 1887, Emil published 600 pages (1887-part1) (1887-part2) (1887-part3) (1887-part4) (1895) (1898) in the German language filled with 500 eyewitness accounts of the crews of sailing ships that had encountered shocks and violent shaking disturbances caused by seaquakes and volcanic explosions. Here’s an old newspaper article in English telling of his famous research.

Things are different today!

The US Navy and the oil industry pay for 97% of all whale research worldwide. They will not fund any research into barotraumatic injuries caused by seaquake activity because these injuries are identical to those caused by sonar and underwater explosives. It’s easy to understand their reasons for this massive cover-up.

Bermuda Triangle Mystery Solved?

Professor Rudolph proved that seaquakes and volcanic explosions were responsible for sinking of many ships that have mysteriously vanished over the centuries. He solved the Bermuda Triangle Mystery before the triangle was ever invented. In fact, seaquakes answer the greatest sea mystery of all, the mystery of the ghost ship Mary Celeste.

Other seaquake research is equally shocking. On page 36 (Chap 3) of his book on using sound imaging to detect secret nuclear explosions in the ocean, German underwater acoustics Professor Peter Willie, the former head of NATO’s Undersea Research Center, displays three similar sonograms and compares the noise generated by seaquakes and volcanic explosions with those of undersea nuclear explosions of several thousand tons of TNT-equivalent. He says seaquake sounds are the loudest sounds ever produced underwater.

As another example, physicists with Goddard Space Flight Center calculated that the shock front above two 7.5 seaquakes in the Pacific approached 100,000 pounds per square inch. A direct hit from a shockwave of this magnitude will sink a battleship.

Seaquake energy spreads in all direction so naturally, the closer the hypocenter (focus point) is to the rock-water interface, the less chance the energy has to spread out and grow weak before it enters the water column. A 6 magnitude quake 50 kilometers below the rock-water would hardly be noticed in the water.  On the other hand, a 4.5 magnitude event only 3 kilometers deep would indeed be deadly to nearby sea life.

The same applies on land—the more shallow the focal point, the more dangerous to land animals and property. One other important point: for decades our scientists have believed that a lot of the energy in seismic waves bounces off the underside of the rock-water interface like light bounces off a mirror. They believe this bounced energy returned to the solid earth.

The Depth of Focus is Critical!

A 6 magnitude quake 50 kilometers below the rock-water would hardly be noticed in the water.  On the other hand, a 4.5 magnitude event only 3 kilometers deep would indeed be deadly to nearby sea life. The same applies on land—the more shallow the focal point, the more dangerous to land animals and property. One other important point: for decades our scientists have believed that a lot of the energy in seismic waves bounces off the underside of the rock-water interface like light bounces off a mirror. They believe this bounced energy returned to the solid earth.

Thanks to NOAA Professors Oleg A. Godin and Iosif M. Fuks, we now know that instead of a mirror, the rock-water interface becomes transparent to seaquake waves when the distance between the focal point and the interface is less that the length of the one seaquake wave. The researchers did the research on the air-water interface. However, in a private phone conversation, Professor Godin told this researcher that the physics of this anomalous transparency were the same for both the rock-water interface and water-air interface. This means that if the focus of the seaquakes is less than ~5 km below where the rocky seabed meets the liquid sea, the seismic energy passes through the interface as if there were no barrier at all.

In other words, if the seaquake that sank the USS Scorpion was only ~5 km deep, the seismic shock would have hit this nuclear submarine as if it were sitting directly on top of the focal point. Knocking the wide starboard diving plane off this sub was easy especially since it was already stress fatigued and had hairline cracks. No mechanical structure could stay together after such a hit, especially a submarine ready to fall apart on its own.

Whale Scientists Never Investigated Seaquakes!

As strange as it may seem, not one single whale scientist in the last 80 years has ever asked if a natural undersea seismic upheaval might be harmful to diving whales, dolphins, polar bears, seals, walruses, dugongs, fishes with swim bladders, or sea turtles. But they did mention it in 1977 and 1936. What makes this total lack of scientific interest even more amazing is that older books and digitized newspaper archives beginning in the 1700s (link) through 2009 (link) are filled with reports of fishes, whales, and ships suffering severe damage and mass death brought on by exposure to violent undersea seismic disturbances.

This is not a mere oversight. Rather, it is a purposeful cover-up to keep from exposing the USS Scorpion fiasco. The next question is what could possibly motivate whale scientists to ignore the most violent destructive force in our oceans?

Precisely how P and S waves (seismic waves) generated by an earthquake in the seabed cross the boundary between the solid earth and the water to become seaquake waves is not so complicated; however, a proper explanation deals with depth of focus, takeoff angles, fault types, type of rocks in the seabed, seafloor terrain, direction of movement in the fault, vertical acceleration, and other factors far too boring for most folks. For these reasons, it would be a serious mistake to presume that seaquakes of the same magnitude generate similar hydro-acoustic shocks and vibrations.

Calculating the changes in ambient water pressure to which whales might be exposed is extremely difficult because the pressure in the water is not so much related to the magnitude of the quake. Rather, the intensity of a seismic pressure wave is more related to the strong ground motion near the epicenter and the depth of focus.

Navy Changes Name as Part of the Cover-up!

These powerful pressure changes were originally called seaquakes until the mid-1960s when Navy seismologists started calling them T-phase waves. T-phase waves is a good cover-up name for scientists to use since it does not mean a damned thing to whale lovers. But once aware of the switch, a good way of investigating the danger to whales posed by seaquakes is to check sonograms of T-Phase waves recorded at shore-based T-wave stations around the world.

But even this process is difficult due to focusing and defocusing and the presences of volcanic mountains between the T-wave station and the epicenter. Besides, T-wave stations record only the energy that becomes trapped in the deep sound channel; they do not record the vertical energy that is most dangerous to diving whales.

T-phase Waves as Evidence!

Nonetheless, there are thousands of reports of powerful T-phase waves in the scientific literature. For example, an earthquake near the Island of Tonga sent a series of pressure oscillations 3,000 kilometers across the Pacific Ocean to strike the drop-off edge of Tahiti, reenter the solid earth and shook the entire island so furiously that the inhabitants thought a local earthquake had occurred.  Can you imagine what would happen if this series of pressure changes crisscrossed over the bodies of a pod of diving pilot whales?

In 2003, an earthquake on dry land, near the New Zealand shore, generated a disturbance in the nearby water that roared 1,800 kilometers across the middle of the Tasman Sea, hit the Australian Coast near Sidney, and shook the area so hard that it scared the local population. If these waves could cross the Tasman Sea and shake Australia, could they also induce sinus barotrauma in the cranial air spaces of a diving pod of pilot whales?

However, starting in the 1930′, reports of seaquake-vessel encounters began to decline. One reason owners and their captains stopped reporting these events was because a public record of a seaquake encounter could destroy the resale value of a used vessel, or might lead to a lawsuit later if the new buyer discovered a seismic upheaval had whacked his purchase.

Listen to the sound of a distant a seaquake.  Imagine what it might feel like to a pod of acoustically sensitive whales feeding on squid one kilometer above the epicenter. The first half is earthquake sound that traveled through the solid earth. The second part features the quake vibrations that traveled 900 miles through the ocean before being recorded. You hear the earth sounds first because they travel faster than the hydroacoustic signals.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography Gets Involved!

Professor Harald Sverdrup, the renown former Director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, best-described seaquakes over 60 years ago when he wrote on page 543:

“Waves in the sea caused by earthquakes are of two different types. In the first place, a submarine earthquake may produce longitudinal oscillations that proceed at the speed of sound waves. When reaching the surface, such longitudinal oscillations will be felt on board a ship as a shock that violently rocks the vessel. The shock may be so severe that the sailors believe their vessel has struck a rock, and several such reported “rocks” were indicated on early charts in waters where recent soundings have shown that the depth to the bottom is several thousand meters.

There are many ship reports dealing with shock waves, particularly from regions were semiological records show that submarine earthquakes are frequent. Explosion waves of this character usually occur as independent phenomena, but occasionally they release large amounts of gas that rises toward the surface and may lift the surface up like a dome, thus producing a transverse wave that behaves like any other gravitational wave.

Observations of this kind of waves are rare, but it is possible that ships which have been lost at sea have been destroyed by such enormous disturbances. A wave of this nature spreads out from the place where it was formed and decreases in amplitude. By the time it reaches the coast, it has usually become so reduced that it does not cause much damage. (see page #543 at this link)

Common sense leaves you with only one conclusion: a seaquake can easily blow out the cranial air sinuses of a pod of dolphins.

Artificial Undersea Quakes as Weapons!

Artificial underwater earthquakes can also by used as naval weapons. This gives an alternative reason to classify seaquakes. The only problem is the cat is already out of the bag. All the US Navy can do now is control any new information such as seaquakes causing whales to beach themselves.

Generating artificial seaquakes as a weapon leaked out a long time ago. In 1944, New Zealand scientists suggested to Admiral “Bull” Halsey, Commander of the Pacific Fleet, that an artificial earthquake at sea could generate a tsunami wave that would flood the coast of Japan and reduce their will to fight.

The newly formed Office of Naval Research started a program to generate artificial seaquakes. They also wanted to generate tsunami waves. They wanted to destroy Soviet submarines and blame Mother Nature. As a result, a lot of seaquake research fell into a black hole of military secrecy. It has remained there ever since. The Navy should release the extensive literature on seaquakes that they now classify.

Maybe secrecy is why the Navy insisted on changing the name to T-Phase Waves?

Seaquakes Can Also Destroy Oil Tankers!

On 28 February 1969, the crude oil carrier ‘Ida Knudsen’, a 32,000-tonne vessel built in 1958, was sailing in ballast from Lisbon to the Persian Gulf when it experienced a ‘violent vertical shock’. Thank God… it was not loaded with crude. The incident happened at about 02:45 AM (GMT) when the ship was at a position 36.12N by 10.70W where the water was over 16,000 feet deep.

Ida Knudsen sustained very serious structural damage. Shock waves ripped the binnacle, compass and permanent radio instruments off the walls of the wheelhouse, chartroom, and radio station. Sudden accelerations tore off doors and fixtures. The signal mast with the radar scanner was twisted. The force broke it cross-bars. Superstructure damage was more serious at midships than at the aft peak.

From eyewitness accounts the quake lifted the vessel up bodily, the bow moving up faster than the stern. The entire ship then slammed back with violent vibrations. The event lasted about ten seconds. Serious damage was also caused both to the machinery and hull when piping was broken and leakage developed between tanks. After hours of drifting and with a misaligned propeller shaft, the ship returned to Lisbon where it was dry docked and surveyed.

The surveys proved that the hull, machinery, and other equipment had sustained great damage and, on account of the permanent deformation and breaks, the ship had lost a substantial part of her longitudinal strength. The complete surface of the vessel’s skin from one oil tank to the next buckled, in places with permanent sets of 4cm. The sudden motion had twisted the hull to port by 18cm. The shocks buckled bulkheads, hull frames, and girders. It caused all the wing tanks to leak. Moreover, it tore the bottom parts of the side platings away from the girders in places by as much as 5cm. The effects resembling an underwater mine explosion. The ship was a total loss.

Scientists Also Experience Seaquakes!

A seaquake scared scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. They were doing a seismic survey on board the RV Chain. The bridge rang the general alarm and stopped the ship. Opinion on the cause of the disturbance varied. Some thought the ship had run aground or hit a submerged object. Others believed a shaft or screw had broken. The scientists retrieved the array for fear it would foul the screws. The seismic recording gear was running during this period. It recorded the event on tape.

The intensity of injurious seaquake waves vary. For a more detailed scientific treatment on the subject, I direct my readers to, “Effects of Seaquakes on Floating Structures” by Kyoichi Okamoto and Masaaki Sakuta, researchers at Nihon University in Chiba, Japan. You will find scientific references at the end of this article. More informative scientific information can be found starting on page 20 of a book written by two of Russia’s top geophysicists.

There are valid reasons why modern vessels do not report seaquakes.  Ship owners would be foolish to allow their captains to report a seaquake. The public record would destroy the ship’s resale/mortgage value. Complications in the event a more expensive claim might come up a later date.

The most-often-reported marine insurance casualties today comes from striking an unknown submerged object, a sudden unexplained cargo shift, a broken pipe in the engine room, or just ordinary structural damage in a heavy sea. An encounter with a seaquake could cause these “accidents.”  In other words, seaquakes are just as active today as they were a hundred years ago. Only the reporting of these events has changed.

Regardless, there is still lots of evidence to show that a mighty force of nature should be the number one suspect in every whale mass stranding.

Navy Knows the Truth!

Seismologists C.E. Nishimura, Acoustics Division, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C. 20373 estimated the intensity of a seaquake one meter above the epicenter of a shallow magnitude 7 event at ~280 decibels re: 1mPa. This is a pressure equal to 14,500 pounds per square inch. He gave me this estimate during a phone conversation.

Scientists from Goddard Space Flight Center estimated the shock wave from two major seaquakes at six kilobars.

Estimates of pressure in the water above a 5.5 earthquake range from 200 to 500 pounds per square inch. These waves travel as compressions and dilations with an average frequency of 7 cycles per second.  Water pressure would momentarily rise by ~400 pounds per square inch above ambient. A split second it would later drop to ~400 pounds below ambient. The surrounding water pressure would bounce by ~800 pounds per square inch, seven times every second.

There’s more. On 28 August 1997, seismic stations around the world had detected an underwater explosion near a Russian nuclear test facility on Novaya Zemlya, a small island in the Kara Sea. Had the Russians tested an underwater nuclear device? The CIA thought so. Others felt it was a magnitude 3.5 earthquake. The argument went back and forth. Scientists resolved it three months later. Two seismologists showed an earthquake had ruptured the seafloor near the Russian test site.

The CIA had created a false alarm. The quibbling revealed how tough it is to tell the difference between an earthquake and a nuclear explosion. The difficulty is understandable. The energy of  a 4.2 seaquake is equal to a 40-foot-long boxcar full of TNT.

There’s still more… The TNT equivalent of Little Boy, the nuclear bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, was 15,000 tons.  The energy equivalent of the average earthquake (mag 5.2) thought responsible for most mass strandings is 32,000 tons (link), twice as powerful as Little Boy.

Seaquake waves move through the water as alternating compressions and rarefactions (dilations). Half the wave is high pressure; the other half is equal but opposite low pressure or vacuüm. The vacuüm pulls apart water molecules. The water then starts boiling in a process known as cavitation. This occurs when the negative-pressure phase creates a strong vacuüm.

Cavitation also Creates Air Bubbles in the Blood and Heart Muscles of Seaquake Exposed Whales!

Great stress accumulates when two opposing “faults” in the rocky bottom locked together for decades. The destructive power of a seaquake comes suddenly when the stress cracks the rocks in the vertical plane. The result is that the seabed accelerates briefly to ~8,000 km per hour. The movement releases huge qualities of stored energy. There is violent shaking up to a meter per second perpendicular to the water’s surface.

The rocky seabed bounces like a gigantic piston miles in diameter. This pushes and pulls the water. Powerful pressure oscillations travel up at 1,500 meters per second. In general, strong motion near the epicenter causes a ship to experience violent shock waves. A ship more than ~50 miles away will experience severe trembling and be shaking.

The nuclear submarine USS Scorpion may have been directly above the epicenter.

Barotraumatic sinus injury is likely in diving whales exposed to rapid and excessive oscillations in ambient pressure. Torn sinuses will disable their echo-navigation system. It will also prevent them from diving and feeding.

Just like humans exposed to falling buildings, many whales exposed to excessive pressure changes will recover. Those that do not, stand an excellent chance that the surface currents will guide them to a beach.