Scientists have discovered evidence that there will be an uptick in earthquakes next year, mostly thanks to Earth’s slowing rotation.
As Forbes reported, the slight variation in Earth’s rotation speed, which often goes unnoticed by everyone on the planet, leads to an increase in earthquakes across the world.
Scientists who measure rotation speed said everyone will notice the change by more earthquakes.
In a new study, geologists linked the increased earthquakes to slower rotation speed. They found that nearly every 32 years there’s an increase in earthquakes across the world.
“The team was puzzled as to the root cause of this cyclicity in earthquake rate. They compared it with a number of global historical datasets and found only one that showed a strong correlation with the uptick in earthquakes. That correlation was to the slowing down of Earth's rotation,” according to Forbes.
To put it another way, every 25 years Earth’s rotation slowed down, just before there was an uptick in earthquakes, according to Forbes. And the slowing would last for five years, with the final year having the highest increase in earthquakes.
Scientists said 2017 was the fourth year of the slowing.
“The inference is clear,” Roger Bilham, one of the researchers from the University of Colorado, told The Guardian. “Next year we should see a significant increase in numbers of severe earthquakes. We have had it easy this year. So far we have only had about six severe earthquakes. We could easily have 20 a year starting in 2018.”
Bilham said it’s hard to pinpoint why there’s a link between rotation and earthquakes, but the earth’s core might be to blame.
Specifically, mantle in the Earth’s core might stick to the crust during these slow period. Earthquakes float on the Earth’s crust, Quartz reported.
Bilham also told The Guardian it’s unclear where these earthquakes will hit.
But, according to the Guardian, the researchers “found that most of the intense earthquakes that responded to changes in day length seemed to occur near the equator.
Devastating earthquakes rocked much of the world this year. Just last week, a powerful earthquake along the Iran-Iraq border killed at least 452 people, which made it the deadliest earthquake of the year, according to CNN.
Utah has long prepared for an earthquake to shake up the valley. A report from 2016 found that there’s a 43 percent chance Utah will experience a 6.75 magnitude earthquake in the next 50 years.
A 7.0 earthquake would be “the big one” that experts have long worried about, according to the Deseret News.
That earthquake could kill nearly 3,000 people and injure 42,000 more, experts say.
Joe Dougherty, spokesman for the Utah Division of Emergency Management, told the Deseret News that officials should be wary of increasing reports.
"For us, (the new probabilities) sound like reality," Dougherty said. "In the past, we've had kind of a broad range of possibilities, but now we know within our lifetimes and likely within our kids' lifetimes that that earthquake is going to happen. And that should wake a lot of people up."