Long Lazy Days Of... Earthquakes?

I can't even begin to imaging the hardship facing the communities affected by the recent earthquakes, destruction of that scale is hard to compute for a mere human brain. The planet Earth is a dynamic, ever-changing entity and what we don't really pay much attention to is the fact that there are many earthquakes happening every single day. 24 yesterday alone - yes, twenty-four. The largest of those was a 5.6 magnitude quake in Guatemala, and the smallest a 2.2 magnitude quake in Southern California. The land upon which we walk and build and live and thrive has been moving around the globe for billions of years. Sometimes it moves very slowly, building pressure over time to make mountain ranges, and sometimes it moves very suddenly and sharply - like the major 8.8 quake in Chile last Saturday.

The last 30 days of earthquakes

All this movement does have an effect on the planet as a whole, and on this occasion the 8.8 quake resounded across the globe and left lasting measurable footprints. Firstly, the Figure Axis of the Earth - basically the center of rotation - was moved by about 3 inches. Secondly, the day got shorter - but only by 1.26 milliseconds. Of course this kind of change happens every day in varying degrees, and major quakes change things ever so slightly, but usually over time those changes are balanced out.

So in effect the Earth sped up a little, which is fine because the Moon is slowing it down with its constantly shifting pull on the oceans - the tides. Eventually we will slow down to match the Moon's trick of always showing the same face to us, but not for a few hundred million years yet. Just remember though, that what we know as the Earth today is just a snapshot in time of where it all is now. It is changing all the time and will eventually be unrecognizable to us. We are also a new addition to the landscape, and we must adapt and change with our mother planet if we are to survive. Sure we are tampering with the atmosphere and warming the globe, but in her long history Mother Earth has been through much worse. The simple fact is that the Earth will survive that process, but we, alas may not. Enjoy those long lazy days caused by earthquakes while you can.

Spare a moment of thought for those suffering through the motions of Earth today.

Image credit: US Geological Survey
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