when the Earth's moon will come into its closest point in orbit to the Earth. The lunar perigee that will occur on March 19 has been dubbed by one astrologer, Richard Nolle, as an "extreme supermoon" because not only will it be at perigee, it will also be a full moon and it will be at its closest point to our planet in 18 years. According to Nolle, this particular combination will trigger an increase in natural disasters.
Nolle suggested that the supermoon will wreak havoc -- earthquakes, massive storms, volcanic activity and other disasters of natural occurrence. Nolle's assertions may have some basis in scientific fact (even though astrology is not an actual accepted science) -- according to seismologists.
Two seismologists quoted in an article on the website Life's Little Mysteries (a sister site of Space.com) said that just as the moon's gravity has an effect on Earth tides, it can also have a minimal effect on the land in what is known as "land tides" or "solid Earth tides." Ultimately, ocean tides and land tides can have an effect upon seismic activity.
University of Washington at Seattle seismologist and director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, John Vidale, told Life's Little Mysteries that "you see a less-than-1-percent increase in earthquake activity, and a slightly higher response in volcanoes" during a new moon and a full moon.
Seismic activity in subduction zones can see the greatest effect from a lunar tide according to U of W Seattle seismologist William Wilcock: "When you have a low tide, there's less water, so the pressure on the seafloor is smaller. That pressure is clamping the fault together, so when it's not there, it makes it easier for the fault to slip." A subduction zone is a location where one tectonic plate slides under another -- such as the area of the Pacific Northwest.
End of the World on May 21 and October 21
A religious group isn't worried about the March 19 supermoon, but instead they have pegged a later date for a specific worldwide natural disaster -- the Apocalypse. According to a report on Daily Mail Online, a group from Family Radio Worldwide have predicted a massive worldwide earthquake on May 21 to herald the end of the world and the return of Jesus Christ.
The group believes this predicted earthquake on May 21 will be a precursor for the actual end-of-the-world date on October 21 of this year. The group is so convinced of the accuracy of the prophecy that a handful of believers in the date are traveling around the United States in what is being called "Project Caravan" to spread the word.
What does the Bible say?
While the Bible does predict a great earthquake will shake the Earth, a date is not specified. Revelation 6:12-14 says "I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. " (NIV)
Most Christians, though, recall another Biblical passage that refute the May 21 date. Matthew 24:36 quotes Jesus as saying "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (NIV) This statement is made after Jesus' disciples asked him specifically "what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"
Preparation is key to surviving disaster
Whatever your personal beliefs regarding a scientific prediction or a religious prediction for disaster, it is a fact: Natural disasters happen daily and predicting them is not always possible. Preparation is the key to survival whether you expect disaster to strike on March 19 or May 21 or another date. For tips on disaster preparation, see the suggestions on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website at fema.gov.
Tamara L. Morris developed a special interest in weather issues and natural disasters after a tornado swept through her hometown in 1982. She is certified as a National Weather Service Skywarn Stormspotter and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and has served locally in this capacity after a rare derecho struck her area in 2009. She researches and writes about earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes and other natural phenomena.
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