Scientists have predicted that there would be an increase in the number of massive earthquakes in 2018. Although this may not seem to be good news for the new year, the ability to predict tremors offers better opportunity to prepare for these natural disasters.
Slower Earth Rotations And Occurrence Of More Earthquakes
In a study presented at the Geological Society of America in October 2017, Rebecca Bendick, from the University of Montana in Missoula, and Roger Bilham, from the University of Colorado (CU) in Boulder, reported that there may be a trend between slower Earth rotations and the occurrence of more earthquakes worldwide.
As Earth's rotation started to slow down a few years ago, researchers think that there could be an increase in the number of severe earthquakes for 2018. Two to five more magnitude 7 earthquakes than usual may occur this year.
"Next year we should see a significant increase in numbers of severe earthquakes. We have had it easy this year. So far we have only had about six severe earthquakes. We could easily have 20 a year starting in 2018," Bilham said in a BBC Science in Action podcast last year.
Earth Enters Period Of Enhanced Global Seismic Productivity
Over the past century, there was between 25 and 30 percent rise in the number of earthquakes linked to the slowdown of the planet's rotation. The increase in the number of tremors was observed to occur after the slowdown begins, offering five to six years heads up of potentially devastating earthquakes that may occur in the future.
"The correlation between Earth's angular deceleration (d[LoD]/dt) and global seismic productivity is yet more striking, and can be shown to precede seismicity by 5-6 years," researchers wrote in their study.
"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."
Predicting And Preparing For Earthquakes
The ability of scientists to predict the occurrence and magnitude of future earthquakes can minimize the potential devastations of earthquakes. People who reside in areas predicted to experience massive earthquakes may have more time and opportunity to evacuate.
The development of technologies that send early warning signs of an incoming earthquake is also crucial. A few extra seconds notice of an incoming earthquake may offer automated systems time to stop elevators, trains, and heavy machineries, which can possibly help save lives.