PSICAN - Paranormal Studies and Inquiry Canada

UFO Sightings, Visitations, and Related Experiences

Written by Chris Rutkowski

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The TST proposes that many UFOs are produced by a strain field that is caused by crustal stress. This strain field is visibly indicated by a fracture (earthquake) that might occur many kilometres distant and many days or even months separated in time and space from the point where the UFO was observed. It has been claimed that there is a statistical correlation between the numbers of UFO reports and earth- quake activity. In effect, an increase in earthquake activity means an increase in UFO reports (Persinger, 1983a, 1983b, 1983c, 1983d). But the statistical correlation works best when UFO re- ports from large distances are included. This is described as choosing an "optimal space and time increment". In a UFO/earthquake correlation study in the New Madrid earth- quake area, not only were the recognised New Madrid states included, but also those surrounding them as well. The statistical study did find a good correlation for some years, but also found a "lag" for others (Persinger, 1983b).


Hence, this is the source of the suggestion that UFO re- ports are related to earthquakes through a common strain field that may cover a large area, so that the UFO may be observed hundreds of kilometres from the epicentre of an earthquake and still be related. But what exactly is the strain field responsible for the UFOs and the earthquakes? We know that crustal stress can build within rock through various processes, including tectonic and tidal force-related activities. This stress will accumulate in a certain area within the crust, the exact structure and dimensions of this area being dependent upon the local geology and the physical composition of the rocks involved. The actual mechanisms of crustal deformation is beyond the scope of this review, although some basic elements have been considered in Chapter 2. Most sources agree that the size of the region strained to its breaking point prior to a fracture (earthquake) is about 20-50 km in radius, but this depends on the magnitude. Naturally, however, rock outside this area will be under some strain, but not enough to cause failure. There is no practical method for determining the exact extent of the strained region,{4} since the strain will never quite be zero, __________ {4} There do exist some methods for estimating crustal stress from core samples, such as using the Xaiser effect to monitor acoustic emission, but underground conditions have been shown to be capable of altering stress determinations (Yoshikawa and Mogij 1981), so that these measurements will have their limitations.

even at large distances from the earthquake epicentre. Therefore, the determination of a "strain field" is quite arbitrary. If a "strain field" is in existence, then the TST implies that its major visible indicator is an earthquake. If this field is also responsible for the appearance of a UFO, then one can wonder why the UFO would not appear adjacent to the fracture site, where the most energy is released. Earthquake lightning is often observed concurrently with earthquakes, and although it may be theorized that UFOs are indicators of smaller fractures, the use of "optimal temporal increments" to associate UFOs and earthquakes in a strain field tends to point out a lack of similarity between the two phenomena. Specifically, earthquake lightning is essentially simultaneous with an earthquake, while according to the TST, UFOs can appear much before or later. Therefore, earthquake lights are probably not upscaled versions of UFOs. 4.1 ENERGY CONSTRAINTS In terms of energy involved, we can estimate the energy required to support a luminous, ball-like UFO. Assume that there is a luminous ball with a diameter of one meter. Sup- pose it radiates energy at a frequency near 1 x 10^14 Hz, corresponding to a wavelength of 5700 A, or yellow light.

Let us also suppose it has the power of a common 60-watt light bulb. To an observer 100 metres away, the object will have a flux of: S = L/(4 pi r^2) = 4.7 x 10^-4 W m^-2 This value is considerably more than that of the threshold intensity of the human eye, which is about 10^-14 W m^-2 (Haines, 1980). If the object is seen for ten seconds, then abruptly disappears, its energy radiated is 6 J in the ob- server's direction. Now, since the object will subtend an angle of 1.146 degrees, which is equivalent to 1.26 x 10^-3 steradians, its total energy output would have been about 6 x 10^4 J: (4 pi E)/ W = E = 6 x 10^4 J and its energy density would have been 1.42 x 10^4 J m^-3. We can see, then, that even a relatively dim object 100 metres from an observer will still be quite visible, but the energy requirements for such an object are not insubstantial. Even if an object radiated just at the threshold level for our 100 metres distance (about 1.25 x 10^-9 W), its contained energy would be 1.25 x 10^-6 J. These calculations assume an entirely efficient energy radiation mechanism, under ideal conditions. Any mechanism which aims to produce a visible luminous body will need to overcome the obstacles of energy requirements. Several researchers have reported on their results of experiments upon the fracturing of rock.

They have consistently found that electromagnetic emission is produced when rock is subjected to strain. However, the frequency of this emission varies greatly (Gol'd et al, 1975; Kuksenko et al., 1981; Perel'man and Khatiashvili, 1981; Sobolev et al., 1980; Volarovich et al., 1959). According to Demin et al (1981), the peak frequency of the piezoelectric pulse in a fracturing rock is 1.7 kHz. This would mean an energy of 1.12 x 10^-30 J. Its luminosity would be about 10^-31 W, and its flux would be (at 100 m) about 9 x 10^-33 W m^-2. Nitsan (1977) calculated the radiated power of a piezoelectric emission as about 10^-15 W at 5 x 10^6 Hz, and this would yield 8 x 10^-21 W m^-2 at 100 m. The problem here, though, is that this energy is produced within the crust at unknown depths.

Radio wave propagation through rock is of the order of a few meters, unless one includes such things as "natural circuits" and energy tunneling. Even assuming that this energy could find its way to the surface, the method by which it would discharge into the atmosphere and exhibit UFO-like characteristics may not be possible.

Speculations have been made that the monitoring of EM emission could be used to predict earthquakes, interpreting an anomalous reading as a precursor. Although this may one day be a useful supplement to other precursory indicators, at the present time the parameters and the actual mechanism are both unresolved, so that it can only be regarded as a possible factor for consideration (Gokhberg et al., 1983; King, 1983; Sardarov, 1981). 4.2 GEOGRAPHICAL IMPLICATIONS OF UFO SIGHTINGS A persuasive argument presented in favor of the TST is that seismic activity and UFO reports appear to be statistically correlated in space and time. That is, seismically active areas will have accompanying high numbers of UFO re- ports. In the TST, however, a "lag" is sometimes introduced to compensate for the lack of a direct one-to-one correspondence within the data.

An earthquake in an area is not expected to be directly associated with a particular UFO re- port. This makes the theory neatly unaffected by complaints that UFOs might not be observed near an earthquake epicentre at the time of the event (of course, since the reporting of UFOs is related to psychological and sociological processes, the number of variables influencing the eventual reporting of a UFO over a period of many months and within a large radius is going to be considerable).

Actually, the existence of UFO reports within a large radius of an epicentre need not be surprising. UFO reports ap- pear to be generally related to population density in some ways, and, as they are a significantly subjective phenomena, one would expect them to be related to other phenomena that involve similar subjective limitations. After all, Persinger (1983b) noted that the best results for the New Madrid area, for example, were strongest when states surrounding the New Madrid states were included. Is this because of a real seismicity-UFO correlation or because a larger radius means a larger population to report UFOs? It has also been said that: "the more intense the quake, the longer the lag back"(Persinger, 1980b), when referring to the TST, consistent with the theory and its strain field mechanism. But one can wonder, then, if a low intensity event will really imply a short lag between the event and the UFO observation. How well-defined is this relationship? How well are UFOs actually related to seismic activity? Since attempts have been made to demonstrate statistically that UFOs are related to seismically active areas, a logical step would be to determine if this is physically the case. Can we test the TST using other data? In particular, consistent with the TST is the suggestion that a seismically- inactive area should not be burdened with a plethora of UFO reports. Therefore, a seismically-inactive area, such as Manitoba, should not have a history of frequent UFO sightings.

But this is not the case, as there are a large number of UFO reports on record for the province (Rutkowski, 1983). The studies of Persinger (unpubl) show that all but the very-high-strangeness UFO cases could be correlated to seismic activity. The report sample of Ufology Research of Manitoba should therefore show some sort of relationship to seismic activity in the province and/or the surrounding area. Manitoba, however, is not known to be a seismically-active province, and there have been no earthquakes within its borders (Wilson and Brisbin, 1962). Yet, over 500 Manitoba UFO reports are on file with UFOROM. How can this be reconciled with the TST? Persinger (1983b) includes a radius of up to 200 km be- tween earthquakes and UFO reports in his studies of statistical correlations. we must therefore incorporate this distance into any comparative map of UFO reports and seismic events for Manitoba, including the surrounding provinces and states. However, within a radius of 200 km from the Manitoba border (not necessarily from UFO report sites), there have been only eight recorded earthquakes over the last 100 years.{5}

These earthquakes are listed in Table 1. __________ {5} For the sake of completeness, we can include one additional event which occurred in 1880.

Table 1

Earthquakes in and Around Manitoba, 1880-1984

  • 28 Dec 1880* 49.0 N 97.2 W III Pembina
  • 16 May 1909 49.0 N 104.0 W 5.5 VI Westby
  • 8 Aug 1915 48.2 N 103.6 w IV Williston
  • 6 Feb 1917* 47.9 N 95.0 w IV Red Lake
  • 23 Dec 1928 47.6 N 93.9 w IV Bemiji
  • 26 Oct 1946 48.2 N 103.7 w IV Williston
  • 7 Nov 1976* 50.8 N 102.0 w 3.0 IV Esterhazy
  • 4 Nov 1978* 50.7 N 101.8 w 3.1 V Esterhazy
  • 10 Jan 1981* 51.9 N 103.4 w 3.1 V Canora

Of these, only five (*) were considered near enough to UFO prone areas to be consistent and viable through the TST (Gendzwill et al., 1982; Horner and Hasegawa, 1978; Reagor et al., 1981; Stover et al., 1981)  (See Map 1).

With regard to the year-by-year distribution of UFO reports for Manitoba, there were three major "flap years",namely 1952, 1967 and 1975, when report numbers climbed considerably above the normal background level. These years coincide with "flap years" in other parts of the world, as agreed upon by other researchers, and are considered part of a world-wide trend (Rutkowski, 1983)(See Figure 4).

Earthquakes Near Manitoba Compiled and Plotted by C. Rutkowski (1983)

Figure 4: Tabulation of Manitoba UFO reports by year. Reproduced from Rutkowski (1983).

The first observation that we can make is that there were no earthquakes within real "range" of Manitoba during these "flap" periods. Only one earthquake (7 Nov 1976) occurred within a 2-year interval of a flap year (1975), and this occurred 300-400 km away from the area which experienced the bulk of the reports (Carman). This means that no earthquake was related to a surge of UFO reports, even through the action of a moveable strain field, with the exception of one event that is more than likely a coincidence. Secondly, these were all low-intensity events, and highly-localized, so that they were not felt beyond a small radius. Given the large number of UFO reports in the province, it is not conceivable that they are related to seismic activity. No statistical study is necessary in this case, since the lack of seismic events and the contrasting abundance of UFO data are not conducive toward conditions for analysis.

In Manitoba, there can be no "optimal" temporal or spatial increment in analogue to the New Madrid area studied by Persinger (1983b). In Map 2, the geographic locations of UFO reports in Manitoba have been plotted. These represent more than 150 places where over 500 reports have been made within the province since 1900 (Rutkowski, 1983). Map 3 exhibits the rural population distribution for Manitoba (Weir, 1960). It is immediately obvious that, in general, the distribution of Map 2 MANITOBA UFO Report Distribution Compiled and Plotted by C. Rutkowski (1983)

Map 3 MANITOBA RURAL POPULATION - - UFO reports within the province is similar, if not identical, to the distribution of population. This is because the reporting of UFOs is through a human system. Since UFOs are reported by people, there will be a strong relationship between the two elements. What do these maps tell us about the occurrence of UFOs in Manitoba? Since there are very few populated areas in Manitoba north of 52 degrees latitude, the lack of UFO reports means only that few people are present to observe UFOs if and when they appear.

In fact, there seems more evidence for a UFO-demographic relationship than a UFO-geologic one. Determining a relationship between faults and/or seismic events and UFO reports appears geographically untenable, at least in Manitoba. We see, then, that UFO reports do not necessarily indicate seismic activity (this is, in fact, stated in the TST). In the TST, it is even possible that UFOs may be associated with unknown or undiscovered faults in the Earth's crust. In considering this possibility, a map of the faults in Manitoba needs to be examined as well. Map 4 is a representation of major geologic fault systems in the province, showing that with the exception of two faults in the Whiteshell area, all are well over 200 km from the bulk of UFO report sites (Manitoba Mineral Resources Di- vision, 1979).

Map 4 MANITOBA Geologic Faults Compiled and Plotted by C. Rutkowski (1983) Adapted from Manitoba Mineral Resources Division. Geologic Map of Manitoba, Map 79-2. (1979) - -

In an early TST study (Persinger and Lafreniere, 1977), UFO report numbers were compared with "gravity anomalies", showing a reported correlation. Map 5 gives the relative intensities of gravity anomalies in the province. There are relative gravity highs in the densely-populated prairies, with large low anomalies in the extreme north and west parts of the province (Davies et al., 1962). It is apparent that there is a poor geographic relation- ship between faults and UFO report areas in Manitoba. This must mean, then, that there exist undiscovered faults in the UFO report areas, according to the TST.

This is permissible in the TST, since it is the strain field which is the production mechanism for luminous phenomena. It has been pro- posed that these luminous ball-like UFOs may be earthquake lights associated with very small, local seismic events, with a magnitude less than 2 and perhaps even less than 1 on the Richter scale (Simon, 1983). Since there is always some amount of subsidence, release and buildup of small strains within the Earth's crust, the TST might be broadly embraced to explain all UFO phenomena. Not only could all luminous lights be explained by strain-related EM emission, but also all close-encounters where witnesses report bizarre experiences. This is so because EM emission has been shown to be capable of affecting the human brain, causing hallucinations.

It appears that, at face value, the TST can be used to explain a phenomenon with a wide variety of characteristics.

Map 5 MANITOBA Gravity Anomalies Compiled and Plotted by C. Rutkowski (1983) - -

But why, then, if the strain produces UFO reports, is there not a more direct relationship between earthquakes and UFOs? Why would there not be a flurry of reports during seismic activity in the area near the epicentre?

4.3 EARTHQUAKE LIGHTS AND DILATANCY HYPOTHESES The dilatancy model of strain precursors explains that it is the movement of water into microcracks within a strained area that causes dilation. Rikitake (1975) suggests it is even possible to calculate the size of the dilated area as crustal deformation. The formula for calculating this is: M = 1.96 log r + 4.45 where r is the radius measured in kilometres. Therefore, an (unmeasurable) event with a magnitude of 1 will have a radius of about 17 metres. r = 10^_B where _B = (M-4.45)/(1.96) ( a magnitude 4.45 event will have a dilatancy radius of 1 km ) The problem of UFOs being small, "local" earthquake lights is basic: their differing characteristics. Earth- quake lights are stationary and of very short duration, being associated with events at the time of the fracture, and appear at that time. UFOs, on the other hand, come in a myriad of colors, move erratically and are not visibly associated with any crustal movement. The TST argues that UFOs move as they do because the strain field they "belong to" moves in the same manner.

However, since UFOs have been reported to move with great speed, one wonders if a strain field could move with such velocity. Even fracture propagations (the earthquake mechanism) often take several days to travel short distances. TST proponents believe that the strain field could, in fact, react to geophysical processes including lunar tidal effects and geomagnetic field changes. These reactions could provide a moving force for the strain field, according to corollaries of the TST. The exact mechanism is not proposed, although it is assumed that it involves crustal movement associated with gravitic and magnetic attraction. In effect, the ground beneath a UFO is said to be affected (probably dilated) and as the strain field reacts, the dilation shifts, carrying the UFO with it. These microdilatory effects are essentially too small to detect (and, in fact, there are no reported cases in geophysical literature), so that the only evidence we could have for their existence would be a visible UFO. - 37 - 4.4 OTHER CONSIDERATIONS While it is true that there have been precursory dilations associated with shallow earthquakes, a major factor for consideration is the focal depth of the events.

One would expect, naturally, that shallow earthquakes would show more precursory crustal deformation than deep events. One indication is the fact that at depths below 200 km, the nature of the earthquake focal mechanism itself is modified, so that dilation cannot easily occur (Kasahara, 1981). If in fact luminous effects caused by emissions are produced by strain, then their association with deep-focus events would be very puzzling. Since attenuation of electro magnetic waves through rock is often of the order of only a few metres, it is difficult to explain how emissions within a strained area could reach the surface and produce detectable effects.