Due to a lapse in appropriations, the majority of USGS websites may not be up to date and may not reflect current conditions. Websites displaying real-time data, such as Earthquake and Water and information needed for public health and safety will be updated with limited support. Additionally, USGS will not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted. For more information, please see www.doi.gov/shutdown
Do solar flares or magnetic storms (space weather) cause earthquakes?
Solar flares and magnetic storms belong to a set of phenomena known collectively as "space weather". Technological systems and the activities of modern civilization can be affected by changing space-weather conditions. However, it has never been demonstrated that there is a causal relationship between space weather and earthquakes. Indeed, over the course of the Sun's 11-year variable cycle, the occurrence of flares and magnetic storms waxes and wanes, but earthquakes occur without any such 11-year variability. Since earthquakes are driven by processes in the Earth's interior, they would occur even if solar flares and magnetic storms were to somehow cease occurring.
Why are we having so many earthquakes? Has naturally occurring earthquake activity been increasing? Does this mean a big one is going to hit? OR We haven't had any earthquakes in a long time; does this mean that the pressure is building up for a big one?
Measurements of the three-dimensional structure of the earth, as opposed to the one-dimensional models typically used, can help scientists more accurately determine which areas of the United States are most vulnerable to blackouts during hazardous geomagnetic storms.
While major geomagnetic storms are rare, with only a few recorded per century, there is significant potential for large-scale impacts when they do occur. Extreme space weather can be viewed as hazards for the economy and national security.
New strides have been made toward quantifying how geomagnetic storms can interfere with the nation’s electric-power grid systems.
Magnetic storms can interfere with the operation of electric power grids and damage grid infrastructure. They can also disrupt directional drilling for oil and gas, radio communications, communication satellites and GPS systems.
Active Region 12192 on the sun erupted with a strong flare on October 24, 2014, prominent in the bright light of this image captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. This image shows extreme ultraviolet light that highlights the hot solar material in the sun's atmosphere. Credit: NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's VISIONS—VISualizing Ion Outflow via Neutral atom imaging during a Substorm—sounding rocket mission is studying what makes auroras and how they affect Earth’s atmosphere. The VISIONS rocket was launched at night in Poker Flats, Alaska, in February 2013. Credit: Joshua Strang, U.S. Air Force
“Aurora Borealis,” Frederic Edwin Church, 1865. Aurora silently illuminates a barren and frozen world of mountains, a schooner locked in sea ice, and a man with a dog-drawn sled in this richly symbolic landscape painting. Credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC/Art Resource, NY...
Aurora or "northern lights" are the result of magnetic storms.
GOES antenna at Deadhorse geomagnetic observatory.
Three perspectives on the events that create geomagnetic storms: A storm from the Sun, a global perspective of an auroral event as seen from space and aurora as seen from Earth. Researchers at NASA's Langley Research Center are using the Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER) satellite to take new measurements of the E-region of the...
Magnetic Observations being made by F. P. Ulrich at Sitka in 1929.