Chilean Earthquake Shifted Earth's Poles
Priyamani • onDid You Know 9 years ago • 1 min read

The 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile apparently had some profound effects on this giant spinning rock we live on. NASA calculated that the figure axis, along which Earth's mass is balanced, shifted by about eight centimeters.

Perhaps more impressive is how much the quake shifted Earth's axis. Gross calculates the quake should have moved Earth's figure axis (the axis about which Earth's mass is balanced) by 2.7 milliarcseconds (about 8 centimeters, or 3 inches). Earth's figure axis is not the same as its north-south axis; they are offset by about 10 meters (about 33 feet).

It also disrupted the Earth's rotation, shortening each day by 1.26 microseconds. No worries, though, because at that rate we shouldn't notice any real effects for a while, but in 500 years or so, sunrise will be around 10:30 PM.


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