Geologists Spot a Pattern, Predict Big Quakes in 2018

A valley of broken houses and debris in Port-Au-prince Haiti

USA geoscientists consider it very likely that in 2018, or perhaps in the next few years, there will be a significant increase in the number of strong earthquakes around the world.

Two US scientists say it helps to think of an ice skater to try to understand how tiny changes in the time it takes the Earth to spin a full day might trigger large earthquakes. However, during the noted uptick in earthquakes aligning to the 5th year of Earth's rotation slowdown there are on average 25-30 large earthquakes. Five years of slowing of Earth rotation was followed by an increase in the number of high-magnitude Earthquakes.

The changes to the Earth's rotation are miniscule, as the effects include changing the lengths of days by just one millisecond.

A little more than a century on a planet that is more than 4 billion years old is not exactly a representative time sample, but Bilham and Bendick noticed something else about these volatile, quake-prone periods. The researchers say that the Earth began one of its periodic slowdowns four years ago and has given us a heads up about increased natural disaster activity.

"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", the abstract said.

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.




Each time the rotation slowed, Earthquakes increased. 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.

Predicting where earthquakes will occur isn't something we can do now.

"The inference is clear", Roger Bilham, one of the researchers from the University of Colorado, told The Guardian. However, they do suggest that changes in the Earth's core could be to blame. "The Earth is offering us a five-year heads-up on future earthquakes".

'We have had it easy this year.

More Major Earthquakes In 2018: Why? These earthquakes are hard to predict and the two researchers aren't totally clear as to why they occur. The U.S. Space Agency NASA has showed that seasonal patterns such as El NiƱo have the capacity to change the Earth's rotation, while huge quakes can shift the planet's axial tilt. Mexico, Iraq and Iran were all rocked by devastating earthquakes in recent months but they may pale in comparison to what we can expect next year.

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