More Earthquakes Predicted In 2018 As Earth’s Rotation Slows

Posted: Nov 24 2017, 6:05am CST | by , Updated: Nov 24 2017, 6:12am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
More Earthquakes Predicted in 2018 as Earth’s Rotation Slows
Credit: NASA

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Even a tiny slowdown in Earth's rotation could trigger more earthquakes than usual, says study

Earth’s rotation is slowing down few milliseconds every day. Although such fluctuations in rotations are minor, they could have far-reaching impact. And a new research suggests that the gradual slowdown could lead to more strong earthquakes next year.

One thing that almost all scientists agree on is that no one can figure out when a destructive earthquake will occur. However, two geologists have uncovered a distant pattern that might explain the overall trend of future earthquakes. Using the record of major earthquakes over the past 100 years, researchers have drawn a strong link between Earth’s rotation and seismic activity. They have found that tiny variations in the speed of Earth’s rotation could trigger intense seismic activity and release a vast amount of underground energy.

“The numbers of earthquakes that have occurred each year in the past century are well known. The changes in Earth's rotation rate are also well known," study co-author Roger Bilham, a geophysicist at the University of Colorado Boulder told Live Science. "All we have done is to compare these two well-known lists of numbers and report an interesting and useful relationship.”

For the study, researchers looked at the history of earthquakes of magnitude 7 or greater since 1900. They found that our planet experienced between 25 and 35 strong earthquakes every year throughout that period. Surprisingly, the increase in seismic activity coincided with times when the Earth spun more slowly.

The Earth’s rotation is usually consistent, but it does go through times when it rotates a little slower than normal. Currently, Earth is entering a prolonged period of rotational slowdown. As a result, we can expect to see an average of 20 earthquakes of magnitude 7 or greater in the next four years.

In 2018 the Earth will reach its slowest rotational speed before it starts to speed up again.

"Knowing that earthquakes will be more plentiful in five or six or seven years is useful because if a city planning department is considering retrofitting buildings to make them earthquake-safe now, or in 10 years' time, the knowledge that more earthquakes are on their way may make them act now, rather than later," said Bilham.

"We have no information on where these earthquakes will occur, except that they will occur at the world's plate boundaries.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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