Powerful Chile earthquake ‘shifted Earth’s axis’ and made days shorter


Last updated at 6:57 PM on 3rd March 2010

The Chilean earthquake has shortened the length of the day by making the Earth rotate faster, according to Nasa scientists.

But you might not have noticed, as it was only by about one-millionth of a second.

Richard Gross has revealed the disaster, which has killed at least 795 people, shortened the length of a day by about 1.26 microseconds. A microsecond is one millionth of a second.

A police officer guards a street in Talcahuano, Chile, yesterday after it was flattened by the earthquake

Perhaps more impressive is how much the 8.8 magnitude quake shifted Earth’s axis.

Dr Gross, from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, calculated the quake should have moved Earth’s figure axis (the axis about which Earth’s mass is balanced) by about three inches.

Earth’s figure axis is not the same as its north-south axis; they are offset by about 30 feet.

By comparison, Dr Gross said the Sumatran earthquake from 2004 should have shortened the length of day by 6.8 microseconds and shifted Earth’s axis by 2.76inches.

It did not shift the Earth’s axis as far because the earthquake was located nearer the equator.

via Powerful Chile earthquake ‘shifted Earth’s axis’ and made days shorter | Mail Online.


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