Scientists have warned that the number of major earthquakes may start increasing next year compared to the average, triggering fresh warnings for people to be prepared in case the natural disaster strikes.
While there have been advancements in earthquake prediction technology, including the discovery of fiber optic cables as possible detectors and gravity signals as possible indicators, there is still no surefire method of knowing when earthquakes will happen. With a new study predicting more earthquakes next year, people will have to rely on knowing what to do during and after earthquakes.
More Major Earthquakes In 2018: Why?
New research presented by the University of Colorado's Roger Bilham and the University of Montana's Rebecca Bendick at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America claimed that there will be an increase in the number of major earthquakes starting 2018.
The surge in devastating earthquakes, according to the scientists, is connected to changes in the speed at which the Earth rotates. The team behind the study believes that variations on the world's rotation speed could result in the release of massive amounts of underground energy that will trigger the earthquakes.
The changes to the Earth's rotation are miniscule, as the effects include changing the lengths of days by just one millisecond. However, that will be enough to trigger more earthquakes, according to the study. There is no definite explanation on their connection, but the scientists believe that it has something to do with the behavior of the Earth's core.
Connection Between Major Earthquakes And The Earth's Rotation
For the study, Bilham and Bedick studied earthquakes since 1900 that registered magnitudes of 7 or higher. They discovered that there were five periods over which there were more major earthquakes compared to other times. For those years, there were about 25 to 30 intense earthquakes, compared to the average number of about 15 major earthquakes for the other years.
The researchers discovered that when the rotation of the Earth slowed down even slightly for periods of about five years, periods with a higher number of major earthquakes followed.
"The Earth is offering us a five-year heads-up on future earthquakes," Bilham noted. This is important because the Earth started a slowdown period more than four years ago, leading to the inference that next year will start the period when there will be more major earthquakes than usual.
Bilham said that there have been only six major earthquakes in 2017. The number should be expected to increase next year, possibly up to 20, before going further in the years that follow.
When the earthquakes will strike could not be predicted, but the scientists discovered that most of the major earthquakes caused by the slower rotation of the Earth happened near the equator.