Experts are predicting major earthquakes for 2018. Not only are they going to be whoppers, but the frequency of seismic activity has been determined to increase.
A periodic slowing down of the Earth’s rotation is said to be the primary cause for this. Experts have found a correlation between a proven cyclical pattern of the Earth’s variance in speed of rotation and a corresponding increase in seismic activity.
A team of geologists have analyzed every single earthquake measuring 7.0 and above on the Richter scale since 1900, as per a research letter published in August by Roger Bilham from the University of Colorado and Rebecca Bendick from the University of Montana.
“Major earthquakes have been well recorded for more than a century and that gives us a good record to study,” Bilham said, in a Guardian report. “The rotation of the Earth does change slightly—by a millisecond a day sometimes—and that can be measured very accurately by atomic clocks.”
The latest research explains a significant spike in seismic activity occurring every 32 years in correlation with a periodic slowing of Earth’s rotation.
Specifically, every 25 to 30 years, a slowdown in Earth’s rotation has been recorded. What follows the variance in rotation on each cycle is a major earthquake.
Currently, we’re in the midst of another slowdown of the Earth’s rotation. Such slowing lasts for a period of five years, with the final year being the most turbulent.
“It is straightforward,” said Bilham. “In these periods, there were between 25 to 30 intense earthquakes a year.”
To put that in perspective, 2018 is the fifth and final year of the current slowing down.
“The correlation between Earth’s rotation and earthquake activity is strong and suggests there is going to be an increase in numbers of intense earthquakes next year,” Bilham told the Observer.
Whilst it’s believed that the tropical regions around the equator will be affected mostly, there’s more research to suggest it’s not limited to those regions alone.
“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.”
Dr. Behzad Fatahi, an associate professor of Civil and Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Technology Sydney, has also alluded that the planet is on the brink of much high-magnitude seismic activity.
“There are alot of magnitude 6-plus earthquakes overdue in the Middle East, India, China, Japan and the US,” he told news.com.au. “No one in the world is safe.”
“There are some fault lines that have not released their energy for a while.
“The question is not will they be activated. The question is when.
“If the period is longer we expect higher magnitude earthquakes … looking at the history of some of those major fault lines, some are very overdue.
“The return period has passed but the earthquakes haven’t happened.
“So we are just waiting for them to happen.”
There have been some devastating earthquakes in recent years. For example, the 2015 Nepal earthquake killed almost 9,000 people, and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan saw around 18,000 lives perish.
“The earthquake in Japan in 2011 was above a magnitude 8 and caused a tsunami and the melting down of the nuclear power plant and so on,” Dr. Fatahi said. “If something of that scale happens it’s really devastating.”
However, despite having the ability to measure earthquakes, there’s no way of determining exactly when and where they’ll occur. We can only wait and see what 2018 brings us.