Still Waiting for the Big One

Zip Dobyns

As I am sure all our readers know by now, the San Francisco area had a moderately high (6.9) magnitude earthquake on October 17, 1989. Newspapers gave the time as 5:04 P.M. PDT. Lee Lehman, who lives in San Francisco, says the precise time was 49 seconds later. Lee was in her car when it happened, and at first thought that she had a flat tire. When the traffic lights stopped working, she thought it was a local power outage, but it didn’t take long for the news to be broadcast. The epicenter was described as about 10 miles north of Santa Cruz, which sustained some of the most widespread damage to homes. However, the greatest loss of life was on the Nimitz Highway on the Oakland side of San Francisco Bay when a top deck collapsed on a lower deck, crushing the cars below. Part of the Bay Bridge also collapsed. Many more people might have died but they had gone home early because of the World Series Game being played in San Francisco, so traffic on the bridge and highway at that hour was much lighter than usual. Most modern buildings survived with minimal damage, emphasizing the importance of sound construction. Engineers suspect that the collapse of the highway might be due to its resonance matching the frequency of the quake.

Geologists can take credit for increasing ability to pick the areas due for a quake and the approximate magnitude, though the timing is still hard to guess. The big quake in San Francisco in 1906 had moved a section of the San Andreas Fault and taken the pressure off for an estimated 100 years. But the section around Santa Cruz had not moved in 1906. South of San Juan Bautista, the fault slips smoothly. Another section around Parkfield has quakes at 22 year intervals most of the time. Geologists believe that the greatest danger of a really massive quake involves the San Andreas Fault from below Parkfield to San Bernardino. This section has been stuck since a giant earthquake in 1857. However, it is also possible that greater damage to Los Angeles could come from any of several smaller faults which run right under the city where proximity could result in more destruction from a smaller magnitude quake. The closest point to L. A. on the San Andreas is about 35 miles from the city.

The horoscope for the October 17 quake has a grand cross in cardinal signs and angular houses, which is strengthened by midpoints between the Capricorn and Cancer planets. The Capricorn stellium in the tenth house has Saturn at the midpoint of Uranus and Vesta, with Neptune just beyond Saturn. In the fourth house Cancer trio, Jupiter is at the midpoint of Ceres and Chiron. The Libra stellium includes Mercury exactly square Saturn and Neptune and just over a one-degree square to Jupiter. Mars is exactly square Juno which continues to look like Pluto in my experience, and it is more widely conjunct the Sun. Pallas is alone in Aries, exactly square Uranus, and square Ceres within two degrees. The cardinals earned their reputation for action and outer change. The nodes of the Moon are connected to the cardinal cross with Saturn exactly octile the north node. The Moon opposes Venus in Gemini-Sagittarius with semisextiles and quincunxes to some of the cardinals and an exact octile-trioctile to the Sun. Pluto in its own sign and house is exactly sextile Vesta and more widely connected to other planets. The Ascendant is exactly quincunx the south lunar node in the sixth house while the East Point is exactly quincunx the Sun in the seventh house, forming a yod. There is thus a network of close aspects which interconnects everything in the chart.

Some of the asteroids were interesting, with Gaea (earth) opposite the Ascendant in San Francisco and Pele (Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes and earthquakes) square the Ascendant. Richter (the name of the man who developed a magnitude scale used to measure the force of earthquakes) was square Berkeley, the city just above Oakland where the freeway caused the most deaths. We don’t have an asteroid named Oakland. California was octile Washingtonia and trioctile Ceres in the fourth house. The Federal Government is being pressured to pay for the rebuilding of the homes, highways, etc. America was at eleven Virgo, on the Ascendant of my version of the Declaration of Independence and on the MC of the Constitution when it is calculated for Washington, DC.

The heliocentric positions also had appropriate aspects with Richter square America, both octile Chiron and trioctile Neptune. Washingtonia was octile Siva (and geocentric Venus and Potomac, the river which runs through our nation’s capital) and trioctile Gaea. Many others might be mentioned, but that is enough to give the idea.

Despite the preceding list, there is not enough that could have been used to predict the quake. Looking for some way to forecast it, I did the preceding Libra ingress for San Francisco, but found it totally inadequate. In fact, if I had done it before the quake, I would have concluded that San Francisco was safe for that three month period between the Libra and Capricorn ingresses. The Ascendant, Moon-Jupiter-Chiron, and Pluto-Venus formed a very close grand trine in water signs! The cardinal cross was there, but with harmony aspects to the SF Ascendant while the lunar nodes were sextile-trine the MC. I had to go to Arabic Parts, planetary nodes, midpoints, etc. to find appropriate stress aspects. Even when I checked our set of nearly 500 asteroids, there were almost no negative aspects to the SF angles in the Libra ingress chart. I did note that Gaea at the ingress was at 11 Virgo, on the angles of the two U.S. charts. America reached that degree in time for the quake.

I also checked the chart for the big quake in San Francisco in 1906 to see whether it offered any clues. The ingress chart for San Francisco had its Ascendant just past natal Saturn while the ingress IC was on natal Pluto in the 1906 quake. It may prove worth watching future ingress angles for contacts with previous earthquake charts.

The quake’s Ascendant was exactly opposite the natal Ascendant and Neptune in Marc Penfield’s chart for the founding of San Francisco, and the Libra ingress IC was just over one degree from the city MC. I am skeptical of city horoscopes since they are “born” in stages and a precise time is hard to attain. But if Penfield’s date offers at least one important step in the development of SF, the new quake does have several interesting aspects including the quake Moon on the city Uranus and the quake Mars-Juno on the city Juno. Secondary progressions for the city put the P Sun on the natal south node of the Moon square P Ascendant and just past a quincunx to natal Sun, and the P Moon square natal Mars. But I would have been reluctant to predict anything serious from the city chart. Several of the stress aspects had ended or were not yet in orb, and there was a grand trine in water signs with P Venus, P Jupiter and natal Moon. If any readers want to investigate for themselves, Penfield gives June 27, 1776 at 11:08 PST for the birth of San Francisco. I assume the chart is rectified since the local time was obviously LAT throughout the 18th century. Data for the early destructive quake is April 18, 1906 at 5:13 A.M. PST.

The stress may now be sufficiently reduced to lessen the danger in northern California and we can continue our efforts to figure out how to forecast earthquakes for those of us who live in southern California. Diana Rosenberg is watching the lunations in 1991. I will continue to watch the two charts for our country since my chart for the Declaration of Independence has been supported by the quake. P Moon is on the IC opposite Uranus, a very appropriate aspect for the variety of upheavals we have had so far this fall: diplomats out of Lebanon, drug war in Columbia, hurricane Hugo, the Panama Coup which failed, and now the quake. A 190 point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average might also be tossed into the collection, not to mention the Phillips explosion in a plastic factory and miscellaneous plane and train crashes. And the fall is not yet over.

Copyright © 1989 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

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