Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Sunday, November 26, 2017

A tiny slowdown in Earth's rotation next year could trigger more earthquakes than usual, new research suggests. Past periods of slow rotation over the last 100 years have coincided with more earthquakes than average, according to research presented last month at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. "The numbers of earthquakes that have occurred each year in the past century are well known. The changes in Earth's rotation rate are also well known," study co-author Roger Bilham, a geophysicist at the University of Colorado Boulder, said in an email to Live Science. "All we have done is to compare these two well-known lists of numbers and report an interesting and useful relationship."

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The basic idea is that as the Earth's spin slows slightly, the equator shrinks. However, tectonic plates don't shrink as easily, meaning the edges of the plates get squeezed. Although this amount of squeezing isn't huge, it does put added stress on plate boundaries that are already under stress, where earthquakes are more likely, Bilham said.

On average, there were about 15 major earthquakes per year since 1900. However, during certain periods, the planet sees between 25 and 35 earthquakes greater than magnitude 7 in a year. When the team looked more closely, they found those periods coincided with times when the Earth spins more slowly, meaning the days get slightly longer. Changes in Earth's rotational speed can be caused by weather patterns like El Niño, ocean currents and currents in the molten core of the planet. When fluids speed up, the solid Earth must slow down, Bilham said.

Because NASA tracks the length of the day to the microsecond, these slowdowns in Earth's spin can be predicted five years in advance, Bilham said.

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Uh-oh. I left the device on....

#1 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2017-11-25 10:27 PM | Reply | Funny: 3

Maybe California could lose the big two coastal section, wouldn't that make elections tight.

#2 | Posted by Crassus at 2017-11-26 03:29 AM | Reply

It's happened before - destined to happen again.

"The human race is exceedingly old. Modern science counts its age in tens of thousands of years; occultism, in tens of millions. There is an old saying that "Mother Earth has shaken many civilizations from her back," and it is not beyond reason that the principles of astrology and astronomy were evolved millions of years before the first white man appeared."

Excerpt From: Manly P. Hall. "The Zodiac and Its Signs."

#3 | Posted by lfthndthrds at 2017-11-26 04:55 AM | Reply

Maybe California could lose the big two coastal section, wouldn't that make elections tight.

#2 | POSTED BY CRASSUS

You know your ideas suck when you govern via stacking the judiciary and hoping entire states fall off the map.

#4 | Posted by jpw at 2017-11-26 10:52 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

In about 5 billion years, the sun will begin burning helium (a process which should concern any heliumrat) turning into a red giant star. When it expands, its outer layers will consume Mercury and Venus, and the Earth.

Earth's rotation is slowing slightly with time; thus, a day was shorter in the past. This is due to the tidal effects the Moon has on Earth's rotation. Atomic clocks show that a modern-day is longer by about 1.7 milliseconds than a century ago, slowly increasing the rate at which UTC is adjusted by leap seconds. The moon is moving farther away as the earth slows down.

It will take about 140 million years before the Earth's rotation slows to a 25-hour day. If this rate were constant (its not) the earth will stop spinning before it is vaporized by the sun.

Then what we gonna do? Just goes to show the human race faces bigger problems than global warming.

#5 | Posted by bayviking at 2017-11-27 07:48 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

#2 Given the known motions of tectonic plates, that seems exceedingly unlikely. An "unzipping" of the Cascadia Zone on the other hand gets more likely every day, is already overdue, and could result in the loss of Seattle, Victoria, the entirety of the Oregon and Washington coastal communities, large swatha of northern California and southern British Columbia coastal cities, and could even trigger events along the San Andreas, although the relationship between the two is not well understood.

www.newyorker.com

#6 | Posted by MUSTANG at 2017-11-27 08:24 AM | Reply

Just goes to show the human race faces bigger problems than global warming.
#5 | POSTED BY BAYVIKING AT 2017-11-27 07:48 AM | REPLY

Careful, you'll get burnt at the stake for that kind of opinion.

#7 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-27 08:46 AM | Reply

I was being facetious. Global warming is now. What happens 5 billion years from now is very interesting, but hardly a high priority issue. The earth is not eternal and mankind is a trivial, yet highly destructive part of its history.

#8 | Posted by bayviking at 2017-11-27 10:13 AM | Reply

#5
5 billion year events notwithstanding, an increase in 7+ magnitude events would seem to increase the likely hood of a Krakatoa type event at some point. In 100 years? 500,000? 2 million? Or maybe even 2018.

#9 | Posted by Whizzo at 2017-11-27 10:36 AM | Reply

Actually, the greatest immanent threat to modern life as we know it is a Carrington Event, which occurred once already in 1859 and began with a giant solar flare. The sun ejected magnetized high energy particles that produced a magnetic storm on earth so intense it caused auroras everywhere, delivered electric shocks to telegraph operators and started fires throughout the telegraph and power system. Today it would take down power grids, communication networks, GPS and all other satellite systems and start many fires.

#10 | Posted by bayviking at 2017-11-27 07:44 PM | Reply

Cool to see some of my colleagues getting press on the DR. Not related to my work; I am a water guy (much more relevant!)

With that, I agree with Viking in that global warming is now. Throw in human population growth and water scarcity, and we have ourselves a perfect recipe for a human species 'bottle neck'. The Anthropocene is truly disturbing, but also intriguing within the social, ecological, and geoscience fields. Also interesting is China's expansion in these disciplines, while the US contracts.

#11 | Posted by horstngraben at 2017-11-27 08:37 PM | Reply

Then what we gonna do? Just goes to show the human race faces bigger problems than global warming.

#5 | Posted by bayviking

Not right now we don't. Other than potential nuclear war, destroying the only planet we get for profit is our biggest problem.

#12 | Posted by SpeakSoftly at 2017-11-28 01:35 PM | Reply

Also interesting is China's expansion in these disciplines, while the US contracts.

#11 | Posted by horstngraben

Amazing what a country can do when it doesn't have a republican party isn't it?

#13 | Posted by SpeakSoftly at 2017-11-28 01:36 PM | Reply

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