Scientists predict bigger earthquakes in 2018

An earthquake survivor weeps as she sits in front of damaged buildings in a compound which was built under the Mehr state-owned program in Sarpol-e Zahab in western Iran Tuesday Nov. 14 2017

The claims were made by United States 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.

Scientists don't know yet why the speed of Earth's rotation correlates with the frequency and intensity of earthquakes, but one theory is that changes in the flow of molten iron in Earth's outer core could affect both the planet's spinning speed and seismic frequency.

The joint-research from Rebecca Bemdirk at the University of Montana and Roger Bilham at the University of Colorado was presented at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.

Earthquakes of magnitude 7 and greater that had occurred since 1900 were studied by the two scientists.

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He said that when Earth's rotation decreased slightly it was followed by periods of increased numbers of intense earthquakes.

Scientists have discovered evidence that there will be an uptick in earthquakes next year, mostly thanks to Earth's slowing rotation.

"The rotation of the Earth does change slightly - by a millisecond a day sometimes - and that can be measured very accurately by atomic clocks", Bilham was quoted by the Guardian as saying. This is why the research team believes we can expect more earthquakes in 2018, it is the last of a 5-year slowdown in Earth's rotation. However, we will certainly notice the result, an increase in the number of severe earthquakes.

Dr Tim Stahl, lecturer in tectonic geology at University of Canterbury, said while Professors Bilham and Bendick are respected scientists in quake geology and seismic risk, he wants to see their study peer-reviewed. "We could easily have 20 a year starting in 2018", Bilham said.

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Each time the rotation slowed, Earthquakes increased. Earth's rotation, as with many things, is cyclical, slowing down by a few milliseconds per day then speeding up again.

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

The last slowdown in seismic activity began four years ago, after Haiti and Japan were devastated by massive earthquakes that killed over 118,000 people in 2010 and 2011.

More Major Earthquakes In 2018: Why?

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These hotspot locations are home to at least a billion people, who are all potentially at risk from a particularly powerful natural disaster.

"We have had it easy this year".

The surge in devastating earthquakes, according to the scientists, is connected to changes in the speed at which the Earth rotates. While in most years there is an average of just 15 such major shake-ups - already more than enough - there have been evenly spaced intervals in the past 117 years in which the annual total jumped to between 25 and 30.

It is hard to predict when or where an quake will happen.

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