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article imageOp-Ed: Antarctica hit by 30,000 tremors since August

By Paul Wallis     Dec 17, 2020 in Environment
Sydney - Atypical tremors have been happening fast and furious in Antarctica. A group of islands is moving away from the continent at double its previous rate. Nobody’s too sure what it means.
The tremors have been more or less continuous. Scientists at the University of Chile's National Seismological Center recorded more than 1000 earthquakes per day. One of them was a magnitude 6, a respectable shake.
This is one of the fastest-warming areas on the planet, but it’s unclear whether that has any impact. Loss of ice may well make things move a bit more quickly, but the area is also home to multiple tectonic plate boundaries.
Another, much less reassuring option is that the Antarctic is symptomatic of a more complex move affecting one or more of the adjoining plates. This is a true piece of string as a theory. The complex collateral movements aren’t at all clear. If the Antarctic moves, what else moves? Just a bit here and there, or a wider move affecting the other plates?
Tectonic science has pieced together the previous supercontinents and ever-changing movements of the Earth’s crust. Figuring out exactly what this blizzard of tremors means, however, is unlikely to be easy. Some places on Earth receive a lot of tremors which are actually insignificant.
According to the USGS, the world gets about 20,000 earthquakes per year, or around 55 a day. So 1000 tremors a day in one place is pretty atypical from a statistical point of view.
The other not very explicable issue is the fact that Antarctica is of course at the meeting point of multiple other plates, in quite literally a polar position. The wandering magnetic poles have also been an issue. “Competing blobs” in the earth’s core seem to dictate the movement, but does that directly affect tectonic plates, if at all?
One thing for sure – Antarctica is a strange, enigmatic, place. H.P. Lovecraft set At the Mountains of Madness there. Someone just recently theorized that “strange” space signals detected there are evidence of a parallel universe. Historically, Antarctica was the land bridge for the marsupials and used to be a tropical place with dinosaurs. The 30,000 tremors may well be another chapter in its long, weird history just beginning.
Just bye the bye – Anything that happens at the poles affects weather patterns and the whole of life on Earth. Just thought you should know.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Antarctica geophysics, Antarctica tremors 2020, Antarctica tectonic plate movements
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