A summary of reported precursors before the Christchurch Earthquakes Sept 4, 2010 & February 22, 2011

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Summary and evaluation of reported precursor events before two large Earthquakes (2010, 2011) in Christchurch, New Zealand

The reports on this site are drawn from about 400 responses to an online survey publicised on New Zealand national TV, regional radio and in the city newspaper after the first Christchurch earthquake (M7.1) on Sept 4, 2010. (The newspaper has a wide city and rural circulation.) Responses were collected for about a year and include observations made before the second major earthquake on February 22, 2011 (M6.3). Both were shallow quakes - between 5 and 10km deep.

Scientific paper
The material has now been published by the scientific journal, Natural Hazards, and Earth System Sciences. View it here

The earthquake light material has now been published by the scientific journal, Earth Sciences Research Journal. View it here

Tabulated data:
Click here for an MS Excel spreadsheet, which can be edited. It is restricted to the survey data. The data confirm that some animal precursory behavior was real - animals were reacting to something before earthquakes, quite possibly to electromagnetic fields created by increasing pressure on rock. Their behaviour cannot be used for life-saving prediction. The raw data are worth a browse because they contain some quite unexpected and thought-provoking stories. They represent a small scientific advance.

Report based on data
Click here for a report (March 2011) compiled from these data for media and those who took part in the survey: Were There Real Precursors of the Christchurch Earthquake?

You can view the same data (and additional material) as a Word doc, or as a PDF version of the Word doc. (The Word file has some individually emailed comments and data from transient Web sources.) Anecdotes from about half a dozen other large New Zealand earthquakes were supplied, and many on co-seismic “earthquake lights”, some of which were precursory.

Dr Whitehead collaborated with Professor Motoji Ikeya (head of Earth and Space Sciences at Osaka University from 1991-2004) during the writing of Ikeya's book Earthquakes and Animals, from Folk Legends to Science, producing a chi-squared statistical test of the validity of the precursor reports. Click here for more on Ikeya and his research and videos.

For sample chapters from Earthquakes and Animals, click here


Dr Neil Whitehead, Lower Hutt, New Zealand, has worked in Japan and for several decades with DSIR/GNS, NZ in the field of earthquake prediction. He collaborated with Professor Ulku Ulusoy of Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey for this work. Both have been interested in earthquake prediction and published books and papers on the subject for more than a decade. Both NZ nd Turkey are subject to devastating earthquakes from geological fault lines which traverse them.