Scientists Predict More Earthquakes In 2018 As Earth Slows

Steve Phelps
November 21, 2017

The claims were made by USA 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. They found five periods when there had been significantly higher numbers of large earthquakes compared with other times, The Guardian reported. Our planet has been slowing down, and 2018 might be a year when we have as many as 20 earthquakes magnitude 7 and above.

Geophysicists are able to measure the rotational speed of Earth extremely precisely, calculating slight variations on the order of milliseconds.

"The Earth is offering us a five-year heads-up on future earthquakes", Bilham noted. The rotation of Earth has slowed down since last four years, hence, they expect an increase in the number of major earthquakes next year.

Next year there could be at least 20 serious earthquakes, and the most intense ones are expected to occur in tropical regions, home to around one billion people.

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. Scientists are blaming the spike in seismic activity on Earth's slowing rotation.

Bilham said that there have been only six major earthquakes in 2017.

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University of Canterbury tectonic geology lecturer Dr Tim Stahl said Bilham and Bendick were respected scientists in natural disaster geology and seismic risk.

Bilham said, "We have had it easy this year". They feel that the changes in the flow of molten iron within Earth's outer core might be impacting both the planet's speed of rotations well as the frequency of seismic activity. Then, after this five-year period of earth's slowdown, the periods of increased earthquakes followed. They found that almost every 32 years there's an increase in earthquakes across the world.

These hotspot locations are home to at least a billion people, who are all potentially at risk from a particularly powerful quake.

Moreover, according to NASA, seasonal changes like El NiƱo have been shown to affect the Earth's rotation, while massive earthquakes can cause shifts in the planet's axial tilt. But geologist Peter Molnar believes their findings are "remarkable" and deserve "investigation".

But while scientists may have found a pattern that will allow them to predict periods of significant seismic activity, there's still no way to predict when or where an quake will happen.

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