Chilean Quake Likely Shifted Earth’s Axis, NASA Scientist Says

Earth's MotionsAlex Morales writes on Bloomberg:

The earthquake that killed more than 700 people in Chile on Feb. 27 probably shifted the Earth’s axis and shortened the day, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist said.

Earthquakes can involve shifting hundreds of kilometers of rock by several meters, changing the distribution of mass on the planet. This affects the Earth’s rotation, said Richard Gross, a geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who uses a computer model to calculate the effects.

“The length of the day should have gotten shorter by 1.26 microseconds (millionths of a second),” Gross, said today in an e-mailed reply to questions. “The axis about which the Earth’s mass is balanced should have moved by 2.7 milliarcseconds (about 8 centimeters or 3 inches).”

The changes can be modeled, though they’re difficult to physically detect given their small size, Gross said. Some changes may be more obvious, and islands may have shifted, according to Andreas Rietbrock, a professor of Earth Sciences at the U.K.’s Liverpool University who has studied the area impacted, though not since the latest temblor.

Santa Maria Island off the coast near Concepcion, Chile’s second-largest city, may have been raised 2 meters (6 feet) as a result of the latest quake, Rietbrock said today in a telephone interview. He said the rocks there show evidence pointing to past earthquakes shifting the island upward in the past.

Read More: Bloomberg

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  • Gregory

    This is the pre-game show to 2012. I'll be on a higher sephiroth while the dust settles.

    good luck, meatsicles.

    • wildflowerpretti

      thats what im saying but no one else thinks 2012 is “real” lol

      • Hadrian999

        so you guys wouldn't mind transferring your bank accounts to me newyears eve 2011?
        i could use the money taking care of pets after the rapture

  • GoodDoktorBad

    Weebles wobble but they don't fall down…

  • http://haditinhollandpark.blogspot.com/ had_it

    I think the Chileans should pay us back for the microseconds they have taken from us.
    If they can’t be bothered to keep their tectonic plates under control, they shouldn’t be allowed to get off scot free.

  • http://haditinhollandpark.blogspot.com/ had_it

    I think the Chileans should pay us back for the microseconds they have taken from us.
    If they can't be bothered to keep their tectonic plates under control, they shouldn't be allowed to get off scot free.

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