Extreme weather is moving tectonic plates, scientists claim
People who are ridiculed for saying that earthquakes are a result of global warming could actually be right, scientists claim.
Long-term climate change has the potential to spin Earth’s tectonic plates, according to a news study from the Australian National University.
Working with researchers in Germany and France, they have established a link between the motion of the Indian plate over the last ten million years and the intensification of Indian monsoons.
Monsoon rain increased by four metres every year, speeding up the motion in the Indian plate by one centimetre a year, said Dr Giampiero Iaffaldano from the ANU research school of earth sciences.
They discovered that enough rocks were worn away from the eastern side of the plate to account for the plate’s anti-clockwise movement.
Dr Iaffaldano said: ‘The significance of this finding lies in recognising for the first time that long-term climate changes have the potential to act as a force and influence the motion of tectonic plates.
‘It is known that certain geologic events caused by plate motions – for example the drift of continents, the closure of ocean basins and the building of large mountain belts – have the ability to influence the motion of tectonic plates.
‘It is known that certain geologic events caused by plate motions – for example the drift of continents, the closure of ocean basins and the building of large mountain belts – have the ability to influence climate patterns over a period of a million years.
‘Now we know that the opposite holds as well: long-term climate change, or the natural changes in climate patterns over millions of years, can modify the motion of plates in a feedback mechanism.’
It is now hoped that the findings can be used to help predict large-scale earthquakes like the one in Japan.
Dr Iaffaldano continued: ‘When forces moving plates along their boundaries reach certain thresholds, earthquakes occur.
‘In order to understand the seismic potential of plate boundaries it is important to identify all the possible factors that caused plate motion to change in the past.
‘In that respect we have discovered that climate change could in fact be one possible candidate, something we did not consider until now.
‘This new knowledge shall be used to analyse the past behaviour of plates in the Earth’s crust.
‘Ultimately we aim at understanding what caused plate motions to change and which regions are currently more prone to large earthquakes.
‘To that end, we may also have to consider the history of climate over the past million years.’
Earlier this week scientists claimed that Europe could be moving beneath Africa as the two continents shift closer together.
Geologists said a pause in the movement between the two continents could mean the tectonic plates are actually about to change direction.