Over 30,000 tremors rock Antarctica in three months, scientists say

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Dec 18, 2020, 05:52 PM(IST)

An iceberg floats in Andvord Bay, Antarctica. Photograph:( Reuters )

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The strait that increased in width at a rate of about 7 or 8 mm (0.30 inch) a year is now expanding 15 cm (6 inches) a year due to recurring quakes, the centre said.

Antarctica has witnessed over 30,000 tremors since the end of August, according to the new research by scientists at the University of Chile, who recorded a surge in seismic activity that has intrigued researchers who study the remote icy continent.

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As per the university's National Seismological Centre, the small quakes - including one stronger one of magnitude 6 - were detected in the Bransfield Strait, which is a 96-km wide ocean channel between the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. 

The strait also is the place where several tectonic plates and microplates meet due to which the area experiences frequent rumbling. However, the past three months have been unusual, according to the centre.

“Most of the seismicity is concentrated at the beginning of the sequence, mainly during the month of September, with more than a thousand earthquakes a day,” the centre said.

The strait that increased in width at a rate of about 7 or 8 mm (0.30 inch) a year is now expanding 15 cm (6 inches) a year due to recurring quakes, the centre said.

“It’s a 20-fold increase ... which suggests that right this minute ... the Shetland Islands are separating more quickly from the Antarctic peninsula,” said Sergio Barrientos, the centre’s director.

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