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Chile Earthquake May Have Shortened Days on Earth

posted 3/2/2010 4:25:28 PM |
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tagged: news, straddle, science, earth

The massive 8.8 earthquake that struck Chile may have changed the entire Earth's rotation and shortened the length of days on our planet, a NASA scientist said Monday.

The quake, the seventh strongest earthquake in recorded history, hit Chile Saturday and should have shortened the length of an Earth day by 1.26 milliseconds, according to research scientist Richard Gross at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

"Perhaps more impressive is how much the quake shifted Earth's axis," NASA officials said in a Monday update.

The computer model used by Gross and his colleagues to determine the effects of the Chile earthquake effect also found that it should have moved Earth's figure axis by about 3 inches (8 cm or 27 milliarcseconds).

The Earth's figure axis is not the same as its north-south axis, which it spins around once every day at a speed of about 1,000 mph (1,604 kph).

The figure axis is the axis around which the Earth's mass is balanced. It is offset from the Earth's north-south axis by about 33 feet (10 meters).

Strong earthquakes have altered Earth's days and its axis in the past. The 9.1 Sumatran earthquake in 2004, which set off a deadly tsunami, should have shortened Earth's days by 6.8 microseconds and shifted its axis by about 2.76 inches (7 cm, or 2.32 milliarcseconds).

One Earth day is about 24 hours long. Over the course of a year, the length of a day normally changes gradually by one millisecond. It increases in the winter, when the Earth rotates more slowly, and decreases in the summer, Gross has said in the past.

The Chile earthquake was much smaller than the Sumatran temblor, but its effects on the Earth are larger because of its location. Its epicenter was located in the Earth's mid-latitudes rather than near the equator like the Sumatran event.

The fault responsible for the 2010 Chile quake also slices through Earth at a steeper angle than the Sumatran quake's fault, NASA scientists said.

"This makes the Chile fault more effective in moving Earth's mass vertically and hence more effective in shifting Earth's figure axis," NASA officials said.

Gross said his findings are based on early data available on the Chile earthquake. As more information about its characteristics are revealed, his prediction of its effects will likely change.

The Chile earthquake has killed more than 700 people and caused widespread devastation in the South American country.

Several major telescopes in Chile's Atacama Desert have escaped damage, according to the European Southern Observatory managing them.

A salt-measuring NASA satellite instrument destined to be installed on an Argentinean satellite was also undamaged in the earthquake, JPL officials said.

The Aquarius instrument was in the city of Bariloche, Argentina, where it is being installed in the Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas (SAC-D) satellite. The satellite integration facility is about 365 miles (588 km) from the Chile quake's epicenter.

The Aquarius instrument is designed to provide monthly global maps of the ocean's salt concentration in order to track current circulation and its role in climate change.

Yahoo News Website

I heard this yesterday, so I thought that I would share this interesting news story on here.

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post a comment!


Mar 2 @ 4:50PM  
The Earth's axis has shfted many times through the years.due to earthquakes Natre is just an awesome force.

Mar 2 @ 4:51PM  
Well if the world was turning in the opposite direction would anyone notice ?

Mar 2 @ 4:52PM  
oops that is nature.

Mar 2 @ 4:55PM  

I guess anything is possible, but at my age I won't worry about it.

Mar 2 @ 5:06PM  
Here is a different account of the story, but it makes the same point.

The quake, the seventh strongest earthquake in recorded history, hit Chile Saturday and should have shortened the length of an Earth day by 1.26 milliseconds

This the key thing. I don't think it will matter, as what is a millisecond?

Mar 2 @ 5:09PM  
Change is always happening.

Mar 2 @ 5:22PM's story on the quake agrees with the article from that WoW's
link cites, in that the Earth's day was shortened by 1.26 MICROseconds, not MILLIseconds.
(A microsecond is a millionth of a second, while a millisecond is a thousanth of a second.)
I'll NEVER get a tan this summer, at that rate!

Mar 2 @ 5:27PM  
Whoever came up with this data, has WAY too much time on their hands.

Unless it was East Anglia, then it was bought and paid for.

Mar 2 @ 5:35PM  
Whoever came up with this data, has WAY too much time on their hands.

Yeah. Science is boring. Boo science.

Mar 2 @ 5:54PM  
What really needs to be pointed out is the amount of money spent on useless "scientific" bullshit like this while the world is in an economic crisis. Way to GOV. I couldn't imagine a better way to spend tax money! Well other than handing it out for bank bailouts.

Mar 2 @ 6:37PM  
The research is coming ot of them trying to find a way of predicting major earthqakes to save lives. So far they have not come up with a way of doing that. But then you get all this other information out of it. I was watching an interview with a scientist last night. Very interesting. But then again science was one of my favorite subjects in school. It was usually the one class that was not boring becase I go to go play in the lab.

Mar 2 @ 7:33PM  
Well if the world was turning in the opposite direction would anyone notice ?

Could be a good thing- maybe we'd all get younger!


Mar 2 @ 10:26PM  
The quake, the seventh strongest earthquake in recorded history, hit Chile Saturday and should have shortened the length of an Earth day by 1.26 milliseconds
OMG whatever will we do without that millisecond..........

Interesting news story however, as was pointed out by someone else......they sure do waste a lot of money on shit that makes no difference in our lives........maybe they should be spending that money on creating jobs........after all more companies will be able to hire more people now that the days are a millisecond shorter..........

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Chile Earthquake May Have Shortened Days on Earth