Geologists Spot a Pattern, Predict Big Quakes in 2018

American scientists have found a correlation between the Earth's rotation speed and the ratio of big earthquakes that occur every year. The changes result in the planet losing or gaining a millisecond each day from time to time however; the researchers theorize that massive amounts of energy are being released underground and it will create more large quakes. Geophysicists Rebecca Bendick of the University of Montana and Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado carried out the research and found out that there is a close connection between the changes in the Earth's rotation and the seismic activity.

The study found that almost every 32 years, there is an increase in the number of large earthquakes and the only correlation is the slight slowdown of Earth's rotation in a five-year period. Now, however, a new study suggests that we may want to brace for a surge of quakes in the year ahead, and the reason for the danger is an unlikely one: the rotation of the Earth has slowed slightly.

"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", the abstract said.

None of this says that 2018 will definitely be a more geologically unstable year, and it certainly doesn't pinpoint where any possible quaking will occur.

This was up from the figure of 15 major earthquakes on average in a normal year.

Predicting where earthquakes will occur isn't something we can do now.

Bilham, in conversation with the Observer last week, said there is a strong correlation between the earth's rotation and seismic activity. Mexico, Iraq and Iran were all rocked by devastating earthquakes in recent months but they may pale in comparison to what we can expect next year.

Bilham said, "We have had it easy this year". "The cause of Earth's variable rotation is the exchange of angular momentum between the solid and fluid Earth (atmospheres, oceans and outer core)", they noted in their paper. They seem to follow periodic slowdowns in speed of the Earth's rotation. The rotational slowdowns typically happen over five years, and the last began four years ago.

Specifically, mantle in the Earth's core might stick to the crust during these slow period.

The impact is greater on the tectonic plates near some of the Earth's most populous regions along the Equator, home to about a billion people.

Earthquakes remain the most hard natural disaster to predict.

  • Joey Payne