A Dutch researcher named Frank Hoogerbeets had predicted the Turkey earthquake two days before it had happened
Dude actually made this tweet on 3rd February, two days before the dreaded quake hit Turkey:
Sooner or later there will be a ~M 7.5 #earthquake in this region (South-Central Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon). #deprem
What's interesting about this researcher is that he doesn't study earthquakes through the traditional or established way of Seismology. Instead, his institute, SSGEOS specializes in "monitoring geometry between celestial bodies related to seismic activity". It's incredible how little we know about the world we live in and how much more there is to know yet.
A quick browse through the twitter account of SSGEOS shows an uncanny predictive ability. They post "this time window, somewhere in this region", then two days later they post about an earthquake in that region.
The problem with that is that there's 1500 >5.0 earthquakes per year, or about 4 a day. Throw in how clustered earthquakes are to well-documented regions, and it's not too hard to produce a cold-read that turns out to be accurate more often than not, without having relevant predictive power. The tweet above smells like the one fortune teller in NYC who told someone on 2001-09-10 that tomorrow will be the worst day of their life, which afterwards get reported a lot.
So color me skeptical. The methodology sounds... implausible, but not completely bullshit. Perfect for some mechanistic bias (Medlife crisis about how we belief BS therapies because they sound like they have a plausible mechanism, kinda related). Throw in that I have my doubts about the predictive power portrayed, and this gets my most contemptuous "more research is (not) needed". If anyone wants to run the numbers on this, lemme know, I might pitch in.
I found this delightfully 2000s article from NASA about the potential for a planetary alignment causing an extreme tide, and it includes a table with tidal forces exerted on Earth by various planetary bodies (search for “Maximum Tidal Forces of the Sun, Moon, and Planets on the Earth”). The forces of the Sun and Moon are each four and five orders of magnitude greater than the force exerted by the next two planets, Venus and Jupiter (and remember, these are maximums). WRT effects on tides:
Additionally, since the subtext of all this is repetitive stress’ effect on the Earth’s crust, the forces from the Sun and Moon each have a roughly 24 hour periods, compared to periods on the scale of years for the planets.
I’m satisfied that the tidal forces from the planets are incapable of causing an earthquake that the Sun’s and Moon’s tidal force couldn’t.
I know the article mentions it, but it's worth emphasizing that tidal forces are caused by a force gradient (the difference in the strength of the gravitational field on opposite ends of the Earth), which is why the Sun has a rather negligible effect on the tides despite the fact that we orbit the Sun and not the Moon (to first approximation, anyway).
You sure about that? The position that, say, venus appears in the sky is moving slowly, changing over the course of the year. But... the direction relative to earth changes rapidly, what with earth's own rotation. In fact, that's the case with each. The moon traverses the sky once per month, the sun once per year, and the other bodies on differing scales on the order of magnitude of one to 10 years. The driving factor of the period of each one's tidal effect on earth is earth's own motion. The only thing that changes over the course of the traversal of the sky is how each of these bodies' forces overlap one another.
Your overall point still stands: The other planets are a rounding error in our tidal forces. Even if all planets conspired against earth, the effect would still be barely more than a regular Spring Tide. Now... mechanistically, that doesn't preclude an effect like the one in the OP. Say that all fault lines accumulate forces over time until the crust can't keep it together anymore. Imagine this like a sawtooth wave, the falling edge being an earthquake. The rising edge being extremely slow. Now add in an extremely high frequency sine wave. The chance of reaching the peak and tripping an earthquake is best when near the peak of the sine. Throw in another sine wave, this one weaker and at a frequency that interferes constructively and destructively with the first one, to represent the sun and the most likely tripping point is when both waves are peaking simultaneously. Well, what would we expect to see then? Most earthquakes happening near spring tides, i.e. when earth, moon and sun form a line, with comparatively fewer when earth, moon and sun form a right-angle triangle (right angle on earth). That's been studied with inconclusive results. The tides messing with earthquakes seem very plausible to me. But if that isn't actually blindingly obvious in the data, then I think it's complete conjecture to assume that other planets' tidal effects could at all contribute in a meaningful way.
Follow-up from NPR: No, you can't predict earthquakes, the USGS says
Rebecca Watson (AKA Skepchick) posted about this today:
Yep, it probably is that. Though it's still considered a pseudo-science and not proper science as you can't apply the scientific method to that analysis. But even for a pseudo science, this at least needs to be looked into more detail.
Just a throwaway comment, but it certainly seems plausible that small changes in gravitational pull (primarily solar and lunar) can (sometimes) be that 'final straw' that kick-starts the quakes.
I also know that areas of scientific study that get labelled as pseudoscience often get neglected for decades, to avoid ridicule (the Cold Fusion effect).