Scientists warn of huge earthquakes in 2018 due to Earth's slowing rotation

21 November, 2017, 00:28 | Author: Lorena Waters
  • An earthquake survivor weeps as she sits in front of damaged buildings in a compound which was built under the Mehr state-owned program in Sarpol-e Zahab in western Iran Tuesday Nov. 14 2017

Scientists are warning that the number of serious earthquakes could increase next year as variations in the speed of Earth's rotation lead to more intense seismic activity.

The research, which was presented in a paper by scientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Montana at Missoula, focuses on historic natural disaster trends and seems to draw a pretty strong link between periods of slower Earth rotation and rashes of major quakes.

Following the periods of slowed rotation of the earth, "there were between 25 to 30 intense earthquakes a year", compared to an average of 15 "major" quakes per year, Bilham told The Guardian. According to their research, periods of increased major earthquakes followed periods of roughly five years where the Earth's rotation speed was recorded as slowing.

Scientists who measure rotation speed said everyone will notice the change by more earthquakes.

But Bendick and Bilham also found a correlation between these periods of increased large earthquakes and the Earth's rotation.

One of the scientists says we could see 20 earthquakes a year starting next year. All it takes is a little nudge to upset the world's balance, and 2018 looks set to be a very unbalanced year indeed. The trends found by the Montana and Colorado researchers show most earthquakes happen near the Equator.

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They focused on earthquakes with a magnitude of at least 7.0, and pinpointed five occasions within the last century where there was a surge in the number of these severe earthquakes.

Bilham, in conversation with the Observer last week, said there is a strong correlation between the earth's rotation and seismic activity. What they found is that roughly every 32 years there was an uptick in the number of significant earthquakes worldwide. "So in four or five years we'll know whether this is right or not". According to the scientists, although the exact location of the earthquakes can not be exactly predicted, still it is expected that the regions near the equator are more prone to high-magnitude earthquakes.

One hypothesis involves Earth's outer core, a liquid metal layer of the planet that circulates underneath the solid lower mantle.

"Its (the Earth's) waistline gets smaller, but its clothes, the tectonic plates on Earth, remain the same size, which means they get rumpled up".

Scientists believe that such fluctuations in rotation caused by the moon's effect on Earth. Earthquakes occur on the crust, but the crust floats on the mantle.

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