Kiwi scientists question prediction earthquakes could triple next year

Earthqueakes in 2018 Earthqueake predictions Earthqueakes in tropical areas

The researchers searched to find correlations between these periods of intense seismic activity and other factors and discovered that when Earth's rotation decreased slightly it was followed by periods of increased numbers of intense earthquakes.

But now scientists have argued that these tiny changes to the Earth's rotation speed could have another impact: earthquakes.

Roger Bilham, of the University of Colorado in Boulder, and Rebecca Bendick, of the University of Montana in Missoula, presented their findings, published earlier this year, at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in October.

Bilham and Bendick found five periods in the last 100 years where a slowdown preceded a spike in earthquakes.

"In these periods, there were between 25 to 30 intense earthquakes a year". Our planet has been slowing down, and 2018 might be a year when we have as many as 20 earthquakes magnitude 7 and above.

Slight changes in the behaviour of the Earth's core may be responsible for this effect, according to the scientists. This is why the research team believes we can expect more earthquakes in 2018, it is the last of a 5-year slowdown in Earth's rotation.

Earthqueakes in 2018 Earthqueake predictions Earthqueakes in tropical areas
Cracked road after an earthquake. Image credit Tes Teach

"This correlation is intense and shows that there will be an increase in the number of major earthquakes next year", said Bilham.

This might not seem like much, and it is virtually unperceivable by us humans, but put in perspective, we find that today's days are longer than days in the year 1900 by nearly two full seconds. "The rest of the time the average figure was around 15 major earthquakes a year", said Bilham.

The scientists can't explain for sure how the slower rotations led to more severe earthquakes yet. So far we have only had about six severe earthquakes. But the latest research depicting the correlation between Earth's rotation and the seismic activity is a very interesting and welcoming one, and this could help in the prediction of future earthquakes as well as the areas they are going to hit.

"We have had it easy this year". Just last week, a powerful quake along the Iran-Iraq border killed at least 452 people, which made it the deadliest natural disaster of the year, according to CNN. These earthquakes are hard to predict and the two researchers aren't totally clear as to why they occur. Hence, scientists are still unsure whether this change in Earth's rotation is the cause of an uptick in earthquakes.

Tropical countries would be at risk under this assumption, which has divided geologists and common people alike due to what it entails.

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