Roger Bilham, from the University of Colorado in Boulder, claims a slight slowdown in the earth's rotation could trigger increased seismic activity.
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.
Roger Bildham of the University of Colorado and Rebecca Bennic of the University of Montana, who made a statement to the annual conference of the Geological Society of America, argue that there is a clear correlation between the speed of rotation of our planet and global natural disaster activity.
During their study, they found out five periods when considerably higher numbers of massive earthquakes were triggered compared to other times. They discovered that when Earth's rotation decreased slightly, it was followed by periods of increased numbers of intense earthquakes.
Now, a team of researchers has found a correlation between these periods of Earth's slowdowns, and an uptick in the number of significant earthquakes around the world.
None of this says that 2018 will definitely be a more geologically unstable year, and it certainly doesn't pinpoint where any possible quaking will occur.
They focused on earthquakes with a magnitude of at least 7.0, and pinpointed five occasions within the last century where there was a surge in the number of these severe earthquakes.
While more research needs to be done and the correlation Bendick and Bilham found in their research has yet to be proved, other scientists say it's worth investigating further. Two geophysicists have warned that there could be a rise in the number of high magnitude Earthquakes next year.
The Earth's rotation is known to go through regular decades-long periods in which it slows down and speeds up.
"[The Americans' paper] sounds like we will get a jump from six to 20 large earthquakes per year". The last slowdown reportedly began in 2011.
Specifically, mantle in the Earth's core might stick to the crust during these slow period.
"It is important to note that the authors explicitly state in the abstract that the precise locations, times, or magnitudes of earthquakes can not be predicted, even if their observations and interpretations are eventually confirmed by other researchers".
Bilham and Bendick predict the impact may be greater in equatorial regions, home to earth's greatest population concentration-about a billion people.
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