Shrinking Earth

According to NASA, it seems the earthquake which occured when the edge of the Indian plate slid under part of the Burma plate on boxing day and caused such devastation around the Indian Ocean has shortened the Earth's day by 2.68 microseconds and moved the north pole by 2.5 centimetres. That may not sound like a lot, but just think of how much rock had to move in order for that to happen.

The two plates in question sit next to each other, gradually pushing up against each other as movements of other plates around them force them together. Over long periods of time this causes stresses to develop along the edge (also known as the interface). An earthquake is often the result of these stresses finally being released in one, or more often a series of, violent plate movements. Thankfully, events of this magnitude are very rare.

Posted in astro blog by Megan on Monday 10th Jan 2005 (22:48 UTC) | Permalink
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