This past September, I wrote an article which pointed to scientific research that showed a possible correlation between melting Glacial Ice and Tectonic activity - specifically in reference to the back to back Earthquakes and Tsunamis that occurred 1 day apart in Sumatra and in Samoa.
While that article received mixed reviews, I want to revisit that subject in light of the recent earthquakes, such as the 6.4 earthquake in Taiwan, the 7.0 earthquake in Japan, the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti
and the most recent 8.8 earthquake in Chile and present the evidence supporting the links between Climate Change and Tectonics.
This is important because disasters like earthquakes disproportionately affect poorer nations, many of who contribute little to the pollution that is causing Climate Change.
Keeping in mind the hundreds of thousands who have died recently in Haiti and who are still suffering, let's examine some of the evidence.
First - the Greenland Ice Sheets and the phenomena of 'Ice Quakes' from a study in 2006.
Surface meltwater is not dribbling away, as if from a giant ice block melting slowly, but is seeping through cracks to the bottom of the glacier. Once there it forms a layer that "helps lift the glacier up from the rock" so it flows faster to the sea, says seismologist Göran Ekström at Harvard University, US, who led the study.
He discovered the glacial quakes three years ago, when looking for unusual earthquakes, and traced them to slips within the ice. And the quakes can be substantial: a 10-metre slip of an ice slab roughly the size of Manhattan Island, and as tall as the Empire State building, causes a magnitude-5 quake on the Richter scale.
Ekström reports that quakes ranged from six to 15 per year from 1993 to 2002, then jumped to 20 in 2003, 23 in 2004, and 32 in the first 10 months of 2005 - matching an increase in Greenland temperatures.
This is troubling, because just as with revised climate models, the changes occurring on Greenland are increasing exponentially in frequency in the period of decade.
(Ilulissat glacier of Greenland) is now moving at 15km a year into the sea although in surges it moves even faster. He (Dr.Corell) measured one surge at 5km in 90 minutes..."These earthquakes are not dangerous in themselves but the fact that they are happening shows that events are happening far faster than we ever anticipated."
What implications are there from these ice quakes?
There is of course, the consequence of Sea Level rise by these glaciers and decreased salinity of the Gulf stream current which may change weather patterns.
Also, these 'ice quakes' (and every earthquake on the planet) send reverberating waves through the Earth, a ripple effect of sorts. With increasing numbers of ice quakes, global tectonic plates are receiving numerous 'jolts', even if they are relatively small in size.
Secondly, there is the weight. Ice weighs a lot. And in addition to these glaciers sliding towards the sea, at the same time, huge amounts of water are melting through the moulins - at an alarming rate.
This is causing the land mass of Greenland to rise up at a fast rate, thus changing the balance of land mass.
A cubic metre of ice weighs nearly a tonne and some glaciers are more than a kilometre thick. When the weight is removed through melting, the suppressed strains and stresses of the underlying rock come to life.
University of Alberta geologist Patrick Wu compares the effect to that of a thumb pressed on a soccer ball - when the pressure of the thumb is removed, the ball springs back to its original shape.
"What happens is the weight of this thick ice puts a lot of stress on the earth," says Wu. "The weight sort of suppresses the earthquakes but when you melt the ice the earthquakes get triggered."
And the other aspect of this equation is Volcanic activity.
The Earth's crust is more sensitive than some might think. There are well-documented cases of dams causing earthquakes when the weight of the water behind a dam fills a reservoir.
Alan Glazner, a volcano specialist at the University of North Carolina, said he was initially incredulous when he found a link between climate and volcanic activity off the coast of California.
"But then I went to the library and did some research and found that in many places around the world especially around the Mediterranean they see similar sorts of correlations."
"When you melt glacial ice, several hundred metres to a kilometre thick . . . you've decreased the load on the crust and so you've decreased the pressure holding the volcanic conduits closed.
"They're cracks, that's how magmas gets to the surface . . . and where they hit the surface, that's where you get a volcano."
Other evidence supports this conclusion:
Increased volcanic activity is linked to ice melted by the effects of global warming, a study has found.
So much ice in Iceland has melted in the past century that the pressure on the land beneath has lessened, which allows more of the rock deep in the ground to turn to magma. Until the ice melted, the pressure was so intense that the rock remained solid.
Carolina Pagli, of the University of Leeds, led research which calculated that over the past century the production of magma had increased by 10 per cent
An analysis of records in southern Chile has shown that up to four times as many volcanic eruptions occur during the year following very large earthquakes than in other years. This ‘volcanic surge’ can affect volcanoes up to at least 500 km away from an earthquake’s epicentre.
The controversial part of my assertion here is that when two earthquakes like in Samoa and Sumatra occur so close in time, people ask, 'are they related?' and the standard answer has always been, no, because they are on different fault lines.
My concern is even though the fault lines are not connected, the seismic activity is interrelated - because there is a common source of destabilizing 'jolts' and that is the ice quakes.
I expect to be refuted here, and perhaps proven quite wrong in the long run, however, I will take that chance to allow us to consider this premise:
If climate change is affecting tectonic stability, we may have started a 'Russian roulette' of seismic activity. In essence, people are already suffering from indirect consequences from pollution such as a lack of clean water, or decreased amount of food due to increasing desertification or lower quality and shorter life span due to respiratory illnesses. But if this theory is discovered to be true, we may have found that pollution is also directly responsible for increased deaths by earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes - and most likely, these will be the deaths of those who did little or nothing to contribute to the problem.
The floor is yours.
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