Did The Earth Move?

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But then measurements show the spin axis changed tack, heading instead towards the British Isles. Some scientists suggested this could be the result of the loss of ice caused by the rapid melting of Greenland's and Antarctica's ice sheets. Adhikari and Ivins set out to test this idea. They found that the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets only explains around two-thirds of the recent shift in the direction of the poles. The remainder, they concluded, is down to the loss of water held on continents, mostly the Eurasian land mass.

This region has been affected by aquifer depletion and drought. However, at first the amount of water involved seemed too small to have such an impact. Then they factored in the position of the areas affected.

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That is exactly where Eurasia had lost water. The study also identified continental water storage as a plausible explanation for another wobble in the Earth's rotation. Throughout the 20th Century, researchers were puzzled because the spin axis shifted every six to 14 years, heading 0. Adhikari and Ivins found that, between and , dry years in Eurasia corresponded to the eastward swings and wet years corresponded to westward movements.

While these movements of water and ice are caused by a combination of natural processes and human actions, other changes that impact the Earth's wobbling are all our own doing. In a study Felix Landerer , also of the JPL, calculated that, if carbon dioxide levels double between and , the oceans will warm and expand in such a way that the north pole will shift around 1. Similarly, in a study Landerer modelled the effects of the ocean warming caused by the same carbon dioxide increase on ocean bottom pressures and circulation.

He found that the changes would shift mass to higher latitudes, and that this would shorten the day by a little over 0. It is not just large volumes of water and ice that affect the Earth's rotation if they move around. Shifting rocks have the same effect, if they are big enough. Earthquakes occur when the tectonic plates that make up the Earth's surface slip past each other suddenly.

In theory, that could make a difference.

Did the Earth Move?

The magnitude For example, Gross studied the massive 8. In as as-yet-unpublished study , he calculated that the plate movements shifted Earth's axis of mass balance by around 8cm. However, this was only a model-based estimate. Gross and others have since attempted to observe real shifts in the way the Earth is spinning, by following earthquakes in GPS satellite data. So far this has proved unsuccessful, because it is tricky to remove all the other things that influence how the Earth rotates. The movements of mass that take place when tectonic plates slip past each other also affect the length of days.

This is a little bit like an ice skater spinning on one spot: she can speed up by drawing her arms in and thus shifting her mass closer to her body, or slow down by doing the opposite.

For example, Gross calculated that the magnitude When an earthquake happens, it triggers seismic waves that carry its energy through the interior of the Earth. There are two kinds. Slower "S-waves" wobble rock from side to side, with the vibrations occurring at right angles to their direction of travel. Intense storms can also create faint seismic waves like those triggered by earthquakes.

BBC - Earth - The Earth does not just spin: it also shakes and wobbles

These waves are called microseisms. Until recently, scientists have been unable to determine the sources of S-waves from microseisms. In a study published in August , Kiwamu Nishida of the University of Tokyo and Ryota Takagi of Tohoku University reported that they had used a network of detectors in southern Japan to track both P- and S-waves. They traced the waves' origins to a severe North Atlantic storm called a "weather bomb" : a storm in which the atmospheric pressure at the centre drops unusually rapidly.

Tracking microseisms in this way will help researchers to better understand the internal structure of the Earth. View image of Could the Moon's gravity influence earthquakes? It is not just Earth-bound phenomena that influence our planet's movements. Recent research suggests that large earthquakes are more likely around full and new moons.

That could be because the Sun, Moon and Earth are aligned, increasing the gravitational force acting on our planet. In a study published in September , Satoshi Ide of the University of Tokyo and his colleagues analysed the tidal stresses in the two-week periods prior to large earthquakes in the last two decades. Of the largest 12 earthquakes, all of which had a magnitude of 8.

No such relationship was found for smaller quakes. Ide concluded that the extra gravitational force exerted at these times could increase the forces acting on tectonic plates.

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The changes would be small, but if the plates were under stress anyway, the extra force could be enough to turn small rock failures into larger ruptures. While this may seem plausible, many scientists are sceptical because Ide's study only looked at 12 earthquakes. Even more controversial is the idea that vibrations originating deep within the Sun could help explain a number of shaking phenomena on Earth. When gases move around inside the Sun, they produce two different types of waves. Those generated by changes in pressure are called p-modes, while those that form when dense material is pulled downwards by gravity are called g-modes.

A p-mode takes a few minutes to complete a full vibrational cycle, while a g-mode takes between tens of minutes and several hours.


She was transferred to a specialized rehabilitation hospital in the San Francisco Bay area. Whatever therapies could be applied to her case were used. The therapists were charmed by her undefeatable spirit. They taught her about imaging — about seeing herself walking. If it would do nothing else, it would at least give her hope and something positive to do in the long waking hours in her bed.

Angela would work as hard as possible in physical therapy, in whirlpools and in exercise sessions. But she worked just as hard lying there faithfully doing her imaging, visualizing herself moving, moving, moving!

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One day, as she was straining with all her might to imagine her legs moving again, it seemed as though a miracle happened: The bed moved! It began to move around the room! I can do it! I moved, I moved! Of course, at this very moment everyone else in the hospital was screaming, too, and running for cover.

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People were screaming, equipment was falling and glass was breaking. You see, it was an earthquake. On her own two legs. No crutches, no wheelchair. Skip to Main Content Area.