Chile Earthquake Has Created Shorter Earth Days

Posted By Ben Goulding, 2 March, 2010 | permalink

The massive earthquake that hit Chile on Saturday which measured 8.8 on the Richter Scale, may have shifted the Earth’s axis, consequently creating shorter days, scientists at NASA say.

Don’t worry though, it’s not a noticeable change – in fact, each day should be 1.26 microseconds shorter, according to preliminary calculations. To put that in to context, a microsecond is one-millionth of a second.

Richard Gross, a geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, used a computer model to determine how the magnitude 8.8 quake that struck Chile on February 27 may have affected the Earth.

He determined that the quake should have moved the Earth’s figure axis about 3 inches (8 centimeters). The figure axis is one around which the Earth’s mass is balanced. That shift in axis is what may have shortened days.

This isn’t an unusual occurrence after a major earthquake though. We lost 6.8 microseconds in the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. They all add up though… well sort of.


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  2. General Manager of the Chilean Mint Spells ‘Chile’ Wrong
  3. Will An Asteroid Hit Earth? (WFOTD)
  4. Go To The Moon With Google Earth
  5. Algeria Causes Confusion By Changing The Days Of It’s Weekend

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