Russian Earthquake Disinformation

Russia has definitely engaged in disinformation around earthquakes and tectonic weapons including repurposing arguments from the early 1990s and weaponizing them against America in 2010.  In 1992 and 1993, amidst suspicion/rumors that Russia had deployed such a weapon in Armenia in 1988 – which had been fostered by a supposed Radio Liberty report and rumors which had circulated since Summer 1991, an official Russian military spokesperson  said  of such claims: “Therefore we are being accused of developing a barbaric weapon for use against peaceful inhabitants, thus driving a wedge between the civilian population and the military.” This is a clear allegation of Information Warfare.

Spitak earthquake disaster – (c) SputnikNews

(This represents a work in progress)

Earthquake Disinformation

By 2010, RT and other disinformation outlets and allies of Russia were reciprocally arguing that the USA had done just this in Haiti . Beyond this, there are other “proofs” such as the presence of Nostradamus-related hoaxes and a belief which ties the California earthquake hoax of 1988 to Orson Welles’ 1981 film: “The Man Who Saw Tomorrow”; and the promotion on sites like ZeroHedge in 2017 that California can break off into the ocean (notably a geologist at Forbes in 2017 in an unrelated story claims this is impossible).

Altogether, earthquake prediction and the concepts of Nostradamus-like false prophecy have many parallels and may also correspond similarly as “informational” evidence of Russian active measures worth further investigation.


Following the October 1 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake in California, a rumor began to circulate that the 16th century French “seer” Nostradamus had predicted that in May 1988 Los Angeles would experience a major earthquake due to a “planetary alignment”. This rumor seems to have stemmed from claims in the 1981 documentary-style film on Nostradamus: “The Man Who Saw Tomorrow”; which was based on the books of British author Erika Cheetham and starred Orson Welles (1). The film for example had predicted an earthquake in the “new city” in May 1988 which the filmmakers equated with Los Angeles (at other times, they equated the “new city” with New York). It had also notably attributed the John F. Kennedy assassination to a prophecy of Nostradamus (2).  (Similarly a 1974 book “The Jupiter Effect” by Cambridge astrophysicists John Gribbin and Stephen Plagemann was widely disregarded as a hoax itself by 1988 and had predicted catastrophic earthquakes in California on March 10 1982 due to planetary alignment (3), but it also seems to have formed the “scientific” basis for Welles’ prediction expressed in the 1981 film.)

While no earthquake happened in California in 1988, a series notably did occur in Armenia (then part of the Soviet Union) on December 7, 1988 (the devastating 6.8-6.9-7.0m (varying reports) magnitude “Spitak” earthquake). Today, Sputnik News claims “half of Armenia was wiped out in 30 seconds” by the quake and its 5.8 magnitude sister tremor, and that 25,000 people died (4) (though some likely inflated estimates are as high as 60,000 killed). At the time, the Soviet press called it a tragedy, adopting a mournful and positivist stance on the disaster, also calling it an earthquake of “unprecedented strength”. Indeed it destroyed two thirds of Armenia’s second largest city of Leninakan (5). Official Russian news agencies later reported on the “Miracle of Leninakan” or “Leninakan Miracle” in which several men were said to have survived the earthquake, though doubts were later cast on the story as a hoax in the Russian press (though the story was never outright refuted) (6). Ultimately however, the Soviet Union was criticized for their slow response to allowing international aid and support to reach the Armenians, and had originally characterized it as a relief operations for Soviet countries.

(California October 1989 – 6.9-7.0m earthquake during game 3 of the World Series between San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s.  There is no evidence to support a Soviet threat, etc for this but the timing of the quake and the publicity and the similar scale to that of the Spitak earthquake may be interesting details.)

By 1991 rumors were circulating about Russian tectonic weapons systems. Aleksey Vsevolodovic Nikolayev professor USSR Academy of Sciences was discussing these topics in 1992. He acknowledged their feasibility, and also claimed it was “impossible to use a tectonic weapon against Moscow” (implying Moscow doesn’t sit on relevant geological features to make such a weapon a risk). Nikolayev claimed that the earth needs to be capable of responding to a “trigger” in order for the tectonic weapon to work, such as a geological feature like a fault zone. In this same discussion, he dismissed out of hand the rumors (still persistent to this day) that Russia had deployed some sort of a tectonic weapon against Armenia; (perhaps in retribution for the mass protests against Soviet rule there which took place through much of 1988). He said there were no seismological anomalies detected like those which might be discerned by an underground nuclear test taking place (7).

In 1993, Ukrainian journals were reporting on the existence of a Russian nuclear facility disguised as a seismological lab at Nizhniy Eshery, which had supposedly been revealed by a Russian military personnel to have been involved in the testing of directional underground nuclear explosions since the 1970’s (8).

In response, official Russian military representatives responded with a categorical denial of the current feasibility of tectonic weapons systems, and insisted the Eshery lab existed to “monitor compliance with international agreements on nuclear testing”. They insisted that reports in “Issue No. 9 Radio Liberty” of the existence of Russian development of tectonic weapons systems were for the purposes of information warfare. A deputy chief of the 12th GU MO, Lieutenant General S. Zelentsov said: “Therefore we are being accused of developing a barbaric weapon for use against peaceful inhabitants, thus driving a wedge between the civilian population and the military” (8). This line reads as an allegation of information warfare against the US/West.

By 2010, the design of this Russia-connected earthquake disinformation had changed somewhat. In a well documented case, Hugo Chavez repeated a report which supposedly came from Russia’s Northern Fleet (which was denied) that the US Navy had used an earthquake weapon in Haiti to destabilize the country. This was variously attributed in different reports to a weapons system accident, or HAARP, or an intentional act (9).  On, the reports were often packaged with a disclaimer they were conspiracy theories, but they uncannily lent these “conspiracy theories” credibility by implying they might be more real “than [the viewer] might think”.

In 2017, to make a comparison between the views on California earthquakes in US media and Russian-friendly media associated with disinformation; in February 2017 the US financial magazine Forbes ran a piece by their in-house geologist on why California breaking into the ocean is fanciful nonsense (10). On the other hand, in the pro-Russian propaganda financial blog ZeroHedge, in March 2017, one of their pseudo anonymous “Tyler Durden” authors wrote about just the opposite and how when a coming “megaquake” happens, it will indeed break off large portions of California into the sea (11).


In summation, regardless of whether tectonic weapons are real or disinformation in their own right, there is clear evidence for many Russian disinformation attempts surrounding earthquakes and tectonic weapons systems. These reports often include the Russian military. The appearance of an allegation of a 2010 conspiracy theory involving the US Navy and tectonic weapons on Russian state media has strong inversive parallels with claims of Russian military in 1993 which refuted claims on Radio Liberty that Russians were apparently developing such weapons – specifically couching such denials in the context of information warfare.

Perhaps it should not be surprising that Armenia had been involved in mass protests against the Soviet government through much of 1988. The positivist (yet somewhat contradictory) relief effort approach of the Soviet government to the 1988 Spitak disaster and similar appearance of positivist falsehoods in Soviet media along a traditional disinformation pattern is intriguing. Beyond this, more subtle language in Soviet and Russian propaganda somewhat revels in the “unprecedented power” of the quake that “wiped out” half of Armenia. Beyond this, there may be credible intelligence reports of Russian tectonic weapons systems development. And of course, Orson Welles’ 1981 movie has been tied to Russian disifnformation and “active measures”(12).






(5) (ABC Nightly news translation of original Soviet press called it “unprecedented strength”.)


(7)  (1988 Quake assoc with tectonic weapons, Aleksey Vsevolodovic Nikolayev professor USSR academy of sciences, 1991 summer tectonic weapon rumors started in the press p.6 ; p7. It depends on earth’s readiness to be “trigger”[ed] and since there are no faults in Moscow “it is impossible to use a tectonic weapon against Moscow”; Completely denies the possibility that tectonic weapon used on Spitak but it is discussed. )

(8) (p. 50)


(10)  (Feb 6 2017)

(11) (Mar 24 2017 by a “Tyler Durden”)


(13) p 42