Major Earthquakes Around World to Increase in 2018.
1. Scientists predict the number of serious earthquakes around the world will increase in 2018.
2. The number of devastating earthquakes in 2018 may increase, study says.
Certain stories doing rounds online, also reported by various news outlets warn that scientists have predicted there will be increase in the number of devastating earthquakes around the world in 2018. It is linked to the mysterious slowing down of earth’s rotation, but as explained below, the claim is not entirely true.
Origin of Claim
In August 2017, geophysicists R. Bendick from University of Montana and R. Bilham from University of Colorado Boulder published a paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters titled “Do weak global stresses synchronize earthquakes?“. They studied global earthquake record since 1900 and tried to find if there is any “renewal interval,” i.e the amount of time a given earthquake zone needs to build up the potential energy to cause a really big quake.
In the historical record, Bendick and Bilham seemed to find that a certain class of earthquakes with a magnitude of 7.0 or more around the equator occurred in a short renewal interval between 20 and 70 years. And every three decades or so, the planet earth seemed to experience an increase of such devastating earthquakes. To explain the earthquake clusters, they attributed it to the cyclical changes in the speed of the Earth’s rotation – that the planet slows down to a slight extent every 30 years or so, and around five years later, a cluster of these severe, short-interval earthquakes occur. They predicted that in 2018 there can be significant increase in the number of devastating earthquakes around the world. Their statistical research on earthquakes got much attention (and hype) after it was presented during the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America in Seattle.
Not Fact as Such
Firstly, it is difficult to predict earthquakes accurately, and the Bendick’s and Bilham’s research findings are preliminary; they have not been confirmed in lab or follow up studies. Many critics pointed that the correlation is not causation, i.e the earthquake clusters and fluctuations of Earth’s rotation may happen on same time scales, but it does not mean they are linked. Following the hype and worry about increase in major earthquakes in 2018, many scientists have said they are not convinced with the study in question and that conclusions from it are by no means set in stone. Moreover, the kind of earthquakes Bendick and Bilham analyzed happen in areas that are already earthquake-prone, like Japan, New Zealand, and the West Coast of the United States. Also, Bendick cautioned that their study is about probabilities, not predictions, explaining that Earth’s slowing does not mean that a quake will happen in the next year 2018 or so – it’s just that the likelihood may have gone up.
So it does not necessarily mean year 2018 will be particularly devastating in terms of global earthquakes; such claims are therefore hoaxes.
Hoax or Fact:
Mixture of Hoax and Facts.