Earth Permanently Deformed by Earthquakes in Chile

Strong earthquakes cause permanent cracks in our planet's crust

By on April 29th, 2013 06:08 GMT

A team of researchers writing in the journal Nature Geoscience claim that, according to their investigations, earthquakes can cause permanent damage to our planet.

More precisely, these researchers say that strong shakes in Chile have already deformed our planet, meaning that they have caused permanent cracks in its crust.

Several previous studies have argued that, when affected by an earthquake, the Earth has the ability to recover. Thus, our planet's crust allegedly bounces back in place following its being displaced by an earthquake.

According to Live Science, several such rebounds have actually been documented by science.

Still, specialist Richard Allmendinger of Cornell University and his fellow researchers maintain that earthquakes whose magnitude is one of 7 or higher might have permanently deformed the planet in the area of Chile, especially in the country's northern regions.

The earthquakes now said to have caused permanent cracks in the Earth's crust in northern Chile took place throughout the course of the past one million years, the same source informs us.

Following their analyzing our planet's crust in this part of the world, Richard Allmendinger and his colleagues came to realize that 2,000-9,000 major earthquakes that hit in a period of 800,000-one million years were likely to cause permanent deformation.

This permanent deformation represents 1-10% of the total changes that our planet's crust undergoes within said time frame. By the looks of it, such permanent cracks can have a width of a few millimeters, or one of several meters.

Specialist Richard Allmendinger explains that, given his and his fellow researchers' findings, geophysicists might wish to rethink the models they use when studying the Earth's crust and its movements.

“Their models generally assume that all of the upper-plate deformation related to the earthquake cycle is elastic — recoverable, like an elastic band — and not permanent. If some of the deformation is permanent, then the models will have to be rethought and more complicated material behaviors used,” Richard Allmendinger reportedly said.

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