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In the wake of the catastrophe in Haiti, we think of places in the U.S. where a truly major quake could occur, and two that come to mind are San Francisco and St. Louis -- in ways that may surprise.

Everyone knows about the San Andreas near San Francisco (which also poses a threat to Los Angeles) but few realize that under the Bay Area are dozens if not hundreds of smaller "thrust" and "strike-slip" faults that in several cases could cause more damage than a major San Andreas event because they are directly beneath urban areas (as opposed to the San Andreas, which courses alongside the metropolitan center).

In fact, officials have told us the most likely disaster -- and one that warrants our prayers (as well as treatment with blessed salt) -- would be a quake involving the Hayward Fault, which runs from the southern end of the Bay at Fremont up through the Oakland area, El Cerrito, and Richmond, then under San Pablo Bay before it turns into a crack called the Rodger's Creek Fault and heads under the University of California at Berkeley -- which ironically is also an epicenter for liberal education as well as a haven for New Agers, witchcraft, evolution proponents, and geneticists.

This fault has a thirty-two percent chance of erupting in the next thirty years, geologists believe, and Palo Alto and San Jose -- Silicon Valley -- are also threatened. If it erupted, there would be strong shaking in downtown San Francisco, along with the maximum effects of places like Oakland. It has been described by one federal official as "the most dangerous fault in the United States."

Meanwhile, Missouri, northern Arkansas, and southern Illinois are under threat from the New Madrid Fault.

Many are startled to learn it was not one in California but this fault, running along the Mississippi, that caused what some say was the most powerful quake in the known history of the lower 48 states (others say one during 1700 in the Cascadian zone near Seattle was more potent).

Whatever the case, over a five-month stretch in 1811 and 1812, there were at least two and perhaps as many as five quakes of magnitude-8 or more, along with smaller but still potent rumblings in the very vicinity of St. Louis and a magnitude-8.4 in Marston  -- about 150 miles south of the large city.

The rattling in Missouri and Illinois in 1811-1812 caused church bells to ring as far away as Boston and Montreal! At some bends, the Mississippi was so roiled it seemed to flow backwards.

Consider that each number up on the seismic scale is not an increment but an exponential increase and that the greatest known earthquake in California was the famous 1906  magnitude-7.8 disaster in San Francisco.

By comparison: the one that hit Haiti was a magnitude-7.

The quake in Haiti came on the heels of smaller quakes elsewhere and was followed just last week by one off the coast of northern California. This week, there was a small quake in Illinois. They are topics that come to mind when we are ready to visit an area.

Are tremors related to each other? 

Can one trigger another -- as there seems to be a spate of late?

Might there be a day when we see a series of great rumblings around the world -- one after another?

Some believe such long-distance "swarms" already have happened.

"One large earthquake can easily trigger earthquakes within two or three and sometimes as many as five or ten thousand miles," says Dr. Lowell Whiteside of the United States Geological Survey, who points out that "1992 was an excellent example in which we had a magnitude 7.6 at Landers (in the Mojave Desert of southern California), and then within hours there were significant increases in seismicity throughout the entire western United States. It kind of broke the back of the people who said there was no relationship between earthquakes at distances of two or three thousand miles.

"With 'Landers' there were some in Wyoming in the Yellowstone area, there were some in Washington state, there were some in Mammoth Lakes. They were pretty well spread around. Another case was the Loma-Prieta earthquake, the San Francisco World Series earthquake in 1989, where there was a very large increase in seismicity in Hawaii just following that earthquake, which was the largest increase in some number of years and that earthquake also seems to have triggered things in Mount St. Helens and other places as well.

"I think probably the most obvious case was an instance that occurred in 1906. That year they had a large number of large quakes in the magnitude-eight range.

"Normally you have one magnitude eight earthquake every one-and-a-half to two years -- and in 1906 they had about ten of them. 

"In August 1906 there was an earthquake of 9.2 that occurred in the Aleutian islands and then thirty minutes later an earthquake of magnitude 8.5 occurred in Chile. If you take the s-wave speed, which is a sliding body wave, it arrived at the point in Chile where the 8.5 occurred at the same time the 8.5 began. In that case you're talking about a quarter of the way around the world. It's like putting a bullet in a gun. If the stresses are there and they're just waiting for a trigger, all you have to do is pull it."

Magnitude-8 is an awesome event, in the true use of that term, and yet such an event is also something that can be prevented or mitigated through prayer (which can move a mountain, or any geologic thing).

[resources: Sent To Earth,  Prayer of the Warrior, and Spiritual Warfare Prayers]

[Recent quake should be wake-up]

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