Science

Earth's rotation slowing down, experts predict devastating earthquakes in 2018

Earth's rotation slowing down, experts predict devastating earthquakes in 2018

If a prediction by two United States scientists were true, then the world could see an increase in the number of strong earthquakes in 2018 and the next few years.

Although fluctuations in rotation are small and may only change the length of a day by one millisecond, they could lead to the release of vast amounts of underground energy, researchers said.

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.

Researchers who have published Geophysical Research letters, according to Guardian and Science, have analyzed earthquakes above seven degrees that have occurred on earth since 1990.

"The correlation between Earth's rotation and natural disaster activity is strong and suggests there is going to be an increase in numbers of intense earthquakes next year", Bilhamtold the Observer in October.

Bilham said that most of the earthquakes during the previous periods of slower rotation occurred in tropical regions near the equator.

Bilham and Bendick could not explain exactly what happened but they suspected that slight changes in the behavior of Earth's core may be responsible for this effect.




"The correlation between the Earth's rotation and quake activity is strong and suggests there is going to be an increase in numbers of intense earthquakes next year", Bilham told The Guardian. If the two geophysicists' research is correct, 2018 should bring a significant increase in the number of major earthquakes. The Earth is offering us a five-year heads-up on future earthquakes'.

During these periods there could be up to 30 intense earthquakes every year, while the rest of the time the average figure was around 15 quakes. But Bendick and Bilham may get to put their research findings to the test next year, as the Earth entered into a slowdown period more than four years ago. "We could easily have 20 a year starting in 2018", Biham added.

Experts warn we "had it easy this year" with just six severe earthquakes. The trembles will particularly harm the heavily populated tropical regions.

"It is straightforward", said Bilham. So far we have only had about six severe earthquakes.

Dr Tim Stahl, lecturer in tectonic geology at University of Canterbury, said while Professors Bilham and Bendick are respected scientists in natural disaster geology and seismic risk, he wants to see their study peer-reviewed.

The researchers stressed that it is certainly hard to predict where the extra earthquakes will occur.