Whole Lotta Shakin': Big Earthquakes Expected in 2018 as Earth's Rotation Slows

Sloshing of Earth's core may spike major earthquakes

The claims were made by U.S. researchers Roger Bilham and Rebecca Bendick who found that when Earth's rotation decreased slightly, it was followed by periods of increased numbers of intense earthquakes five years later. And because it's all metal down there, the change in flow will affect planet's magnetic field, which would ever so slightly affect the Earth's rotation and thus change the length of the day by milliseconds.

Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado in Boulder and Rebecca Bendick of the University of Montana presented their study in Missoula at this year's annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.

Periods of increased quake activity took place five years after the earth's rotation has changed, their research found. According to scientists, due to a slowing in the Earth's rotation, the planet will be hit with powerful earthquakes that could have overwhelming and devastating consequences. But after the fifth year of Earth's "slowdown", the researchers found that the incidence number jumps to an average of 25 to 30. There could be as many as 20 severe earthquakes per year starting in 2018 say the scientists.

None of this says that 2018 will definitely be a more geologically unstable year, and it certainly doesn't pinpoint where any possible quaking will occur.

This is good news for those who always complain that there are never enough hours in the day-at times next year, there'll be an extra millisecond or so every day as a result of the slowed rotation. They also report that most of the earthquakes with a magnitude of 7.0 or more that occurred in correlation with Earth's slowdown happened near the equator in the West and East Indies. "So far nobody's figured out why we're wrong, in my mind that's tantamount to saying, "so far, so right", Bendick said.

Bilham, in conversation with the Observer last week, said there is a strong correlation between the earth's rotation and seismic activity. The variations in the speed of Earth's rotation could possibly trigger intense seismic activity, mainly in the tropical areas, as per the scientists. They found that almost every 32 years there's an increase in earthquakes across the world.

The exact reason behind this formation of high energy is still not clear but scientists related it with the speed of rotation of the earth. "So in four or five years we'll know whether this is right or not".

Specifically, mantle in the Earth's core might stick to the crust during these slow period.

"A striking example is that since 1900 more than 80 percent of all M≥7 earthquakes on the eastern Caribbean plate boundary have occurred five years following a maximum deceleration (including the 2010 Haiti earthquake)", wrote the researchers. These earthquakes are hard to predict and the two researchers aren't totally clear as to why they occur.

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