A study revealed that there are earthquakes in Antarctica just like the rest of the world after it was previously thought that the seismic event was rare in the Earth's southernmost continent.

The absence of earthquakes was believed to be one of the unique features of Antarctica. The findings of the study, however, prove otherwise.

Are There Earthquakes In Antarctica?

A study that was published in the Nature Geoscience journal revealed that in 2009, there were at least 27 earthquakes recorded in East Antarctica.

Previously, only eight earthquakes were recorded in the region from since 1982, which was a strange phenomenon. Geologists never came up with a definite explanation on why Antarctica was barely moving compared to all other parts of the Earth, though one of the theories was that the weight of the ice on the continent subdued the seismic activity.

"It's no longer an anomaly," said Amanda Lough, the lead author of the study and a seismologist at Drexel University. The reason for the sudden increase in recorded earthquakes in Antarctica, according to Lough, was not due to increased seismic activity. Instead, the spike was simply because people were not really looking out for earthquakes in Antarctica in the past.

The study used data collected in 2009 by a network of seismic sensors that were deployed by Lough and her colleagues in East Antarctica. The team buried the sensors deep in the ice so that they would not accidentally record earthquakes due to strong winds. Lough also needed to remove false signals that were created by movements of the ice.

Lough and his team recorded at least 27 earthquakes in 2009. None of them were major ones, with none of them registering higher than magnitude 4. However, for a continent where it was previously thought that earthquakes barely existed, the result was notable. The project is also the first time that scientists gained access to a decent amount of seismic data in the region.

Understanding Antarctica

The findings of the study do not have any major implications on life in Antarctica. However, it is still a clue to understanding the world that we live in, one that apparently still holds so many mysteries.

Another recent discovery in Antarctica, meanwhile, may have a bigger impact on mankind. Scientists mapped three giant canyons and mountain ranges under the ice in West Antarctica. If climate change causes the ice to melt, the canyons will control how fast the water will flow out, raising sea levels around the world.

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