London: The Japanese tsunami caused yesterday is forcing everyone to think - could the movement of the moon trigger unpredictable events on Earth?
Astrologers predicted that on March 19 - a week tomorrow - the so-called 'supermoon' will be closer to Earth than at any time since 1992, just 221,567 miles away, and that its gravitational pull will bring chaos to Earth.
A whirlpool caused by currents from a tsunami near the port of Oarai after Japan was struck by a strong earthquake off its north-eastern coast yesterday.
The disaster comes two days after online warnings that the movement of the moon will trigger tidal waves, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes
Located in a volcanic zone that is so active that Japan is nicknamed the Pacific Ring of Fire where catastrophic earthquakes occur several times each century.
And although the supermoon is still a week away, those who adhere to this particular belief could claim that this was still close enough for there to be some kind of effect.
'Supermoons have a historical association with strong storms, very high tides, extreme tides and also earthquakes,' the Daily Mail quoted astrologer Richard Nolle, who first coined the term in 1979, as saying in an interview with ABC radio.
However, scientists dismiss this as utter nonsense.
Dr David Harland, space historian and author, said, 'It's possible that the moon may be a kilometre or two closer to Earth than normal at a perigee, but it's an utterly insignificant event.'
Professor George Helffrich, a seismologist at the University of Bristol was equally dismissive.
'Complete nonsense. The moon has no significant effect on earthquake triggering. If the moon triggers 'big' earthquakes, it would trigger the many of millions of times more "small" earthquakes that happen daily. There is no time dependence of those; hence no moon effect,' he said.
According to Dr Roger Musson, of the British Geological Survey (BGS), the devastating earthquake occurred because the Pacific Plate is plunging underneath Japan.
'The cause of this earthquake is that the Pacific Plate, which is one of the largest of the tectonic plates that makes up the crust of the Earth, is plunging deep underneath Japan,' he said.
'It's being pushed down and it can't slide down smoothly so it sticks. 'It sticks for tens of years and then eventually it breaks and moves very suddenly down and as it does so it buckles and gives the seabed a sudden kick over areas of hundreds of square kilometres and that displaces an enormous volume of water.'
'That water just races away in the form of this enormous wave in all directions,' he added.