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Scientists Predict Earthquakes Will Strengthen

Scientists Predict Earthquakes Will Strengthen
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By    |   Monday, 20 November 2017 10:12 AM

Scientists predict that stronger earthquakes are in store for the planet because of a variation in the speed of the Earth's rotation, according to a new study presented last month at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of American.

Research by Roger Bilham, of the University of Colorado, and Rebecca Bendick, of the University of Montana in Missoula, suggest that Earth could experience devastating earthquakes next year because of a slowing of the planet's rotation, The Observer reported.

"The correlation between Earth's rotation and earthquake activity is strong and suggests there is going to be an increase in numbers of intense earthquakes next year," Bilham told The Observer last week, referring to research that has examined magnitude 7 earthquakes and higher since 1900.

"Major earthquakes have been well recorded for more than a century and that gives us a good record to study," Bilham added.

He said that when Earth's rotation decreased slightly it was followed by periods of increased numbers of intense earthquakes.

"The rotation of the Earth does change slightly – by a millisecond a day sometimes – and that can be measured very accurately by atomic clocks," Bilham told The Observer.

The study's abstract said that since 1900, more than 80 percent of magnitude 7 earthquakes on the eastern Caribbean plate boundary have occurred five years following a maximum deceleration, including the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

"Whatever the mechanism, the 5-6 year advanced warning of increased seismic hazards afforded by the first derivative of the (length-of-day) is fortuitous, and has utility in disaster planning," the abstract said. "The year 2017 marks six years following a deceleration episode that commenced in 2011, suggesting that the world has now entered a period of enhanced global seismic productivity with a duration of at least five years."

Researchers believe that slight changes in the flow of the molten iron of Earth's outer core may be responsible for both effects – slowing of the Earth's rotations by milliseconds and stronger earthquakes, according to Science magazine.

"I've worked on earthquakes triggered by seasonal variation, melting snow," geophysicist Michael Manga, a geophysicist at the University of California, Berkeley, told Science about the earthquake research. "His correlation is much better than what I'm used to seeing."

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Scientists predict that stronger earthquakes are in store for the planet because of a variation in the speed of the Earth's rotation, according to a new study presented last month at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of American.
scientists, predict, earthquakes, strengthen
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2017-12-20
Monday, 20 November 2017 10:12 AM
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