Over the last several months, the amount of rain California has received has caused some people to ask the question, could it trigger earthquakes? Much of this came as a response to an article written by Professor Gillian Foulger in The Conversation stating that research has shown a link between heavy rainfall and increased seismicity. Professor Foulger and her co-authors from Durham University in England cite small earthquakes following heavy rainfall events around Mt. Hochstaufen IN Germany in 2002 and in the Muotatal and Riemenstalden regions of Switzerland in 2005. In addition to these occurrences, studies have shown that in the Himalayan foothillS decreased seismicity is likely linked to loading caused by summer monsoons. Foulger states that the effect is due to rainwater slowly percolating into fault zones raising pore pressure and causing faults to unclamp. In turn, this makes them more susceptible to rupturing. An example of this occurred in Oklahoma, where wastewater injection into the bedrock was shown to cause moderate magnitude earthquakes. All were low in magnitude, meaning they could be detected by seismographs, but not felt by humans. In recent years, geologists like Sebastian Hainzl of the University of Potsdam in Germany and colleagues have documented small earthquakes that occurred after heavy rainfall in Germany, Switzerland and France. “Very wet rain events are the trigger,” said Shimon Wdowinski associate research professor of marine geology and geophysics at the University of Miami in Florida. “The heavy rain induces thousands of landslides and severe erosion which removes ground material from the Earth’s surface, releasing the stress load and encouraging movement along faults.” Wdowinski and a colleague from Florida International University analyzed data from quakes, magnitude-6 and above, in Taiwan and Haiti and found a strong temporal relationship between the two natural hazards where large earthquakes occurred within four years after a very wet tropical cyclone season. To test the rainfall-earthquake link Wdowinski dug through the past 50 years of earthquake and weather records for Taiwan an island that experiences a lot of severe rainstorms and earthquakes. He found that an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 had struck in 1999 only three years after Typhoon Herb soaked Taiwan with 6.6 feet, that’s 2 meters of rain. Some experts have argued that although the rainfall was heavy, the fact that rain could trigger an earthquake at all suggests that it takes extremely little to produce a tremor. They concluded that the Earth’s crust is in a delicate balance, teetering on the edge of a slight shake-up at any moment. Geology professor John Rundle, from UC Davis, explains why heavy rainfalls trigger earthquakes “When you disturb the stress environment of the earth, you could potentially cause earthquakes,” says Rundle. He also explains that when there is an abundance of rain, the water has to go somewhere, so it seeps into the earth, causing mudslides and causing the ground to shift. Scientists now expect the incidence of earthquakes in areas that have recently experienced heavy rains. When we think of the term Earthquake, images of catastrophic news usually come to mind. But what if I told you that earthquakes maintain planetary balance. Tectonic plate shifts and earthquakes are just part of the planet’s natural geologic cycle. Rock and soil are constantly pulled down into the molten layers of the planet as other molten materials move toward the surface, break through and harden. The planet constantly recycles itself to sustain life and adjust to changes on the surface. Earthquakes are one process that allows the planet to maintain a life-sustaining balance. On the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s website, the famous seismologist Dr. Clive Collins from the Federal Government’s earthquake monitoring agency, Geoscience Australia explained several positive side effects of earthquakes to life on planet Earth. Here is the summery of what he says: “As a result of the catastrophic damage wrought by earthquakes, they are typically viewed in a negative light. However, earthquakes bring about benefits to people, environments and the planet as a whole. In the midst of their epic destruction, there are several positive side effects. Though an earthquake may seem devastating, and is in a certain regard, it is necessary to remember it is a natural process that is part of the planet’s natural cycle of evolution and regeneration.” Earthquakes are very useful to humans because they provide a picture of what’s going on underground. This can make oil and gas extraction more efficient, and allows scientists to monitor the progress of water during geothermal energy extraction. as shifting plates make fossil fuels, like petroleum and natural gas, easier to access. Earthquakes push minerals and metals to the surface. Earthquakes cause a shift in the arrangement of rock forms, mineral and ore deposits, and tectonic plates. As a result of these shifts, certain portions of earth may be sucked down into the ground and other portions may be pushed up to the surface. Earthquakes commonly force mineral and metal-rich deposits close to or above the surface, making them easier to mine and collect. An Earthquake is defined as the shaking of the earth caused by pieces of the crust of the Earth that suddenly shift. In summary, we now have modern experts like Dr. Shimon Wdowinski outlining the link between heavy rains and the shaking of the Earth and Dr. Clive Collins, outlining the link between the shaking of the Earth and the pushing up of essential materials for life, like oils for energy and minerals for agriculture. But it is the Holy Quran which first outlined this link 1400 years ago, in one verse. Verse 39 of chapter 41 in the Holy Quran tells us that it is one of God’s signs that rains make the Earth shake and convert the Earth from “state down” to “state up”, giving it life. The verse reads: “And of His signs is that you see the earth in “state down”, but when We send down upon it rain, it shakes and becomes “state up”. Indeed, He who has given it life is the Giver of Life to the dead. Indeed, He is over all things competent”. The word “state up” used in the verse is written in Arabic as “rabat” which literary means to move things up in an upwards direction. This term encompasses the benefits and the positive side effects of the shaking of the earth and its importance for life. So in one verse, the Holy Quran links the shaking of the earth to rains and also links the shaking of the earth to the pushing up of essential elements for life.