Sunday, April 28, 2013

Earth permanently deformed: Chilean earthquakes have altered Earth

Earth permanently deformed: Chilean earthquakes have altered Earth, Everyone knows about the damage that earthquakes can do to people, buildings, and the planet as a whole, but did you realize that Earth could already be permanently deformed? A report on Sunday, April 28, 2013, by OurAmazingPlanet states that earthquakes over the past million years in Chile have already done the damage.

Research from the past century suggests that Earth is pretty good at coming back from earthquakes thanks to parts of the crust springing back to the way they originally were. These types of rebounds have been documented as actually happening.

Structural geologist Richard Allmendinger from Cornell University and some of his colleagues believe earthquakes are finally taking their toll.

That group of brilliance believes that earthquakes with a magnitude of seven or greater has caused cracks in the crust. Those earthquakes, mostly in northern Chile, are said to have possibly made the Earth permanently deformed.

"My graduate students and I originally went to northern Chile to study other features," Allmendinger said. "While we were there, our Chilean colleague, Professor Gabriel González of the Universidad Católica del Norte, took us to a region where these cracks were particularly well-exposed."

"I still remember feeling blown away — never seen anything like them in my 40 years as a geologist — and also perplexed," Allmendinger told OurAmazingPlanet. "What were these features and how did they form? Scientists hate leaving things like this unexplained, so it kept bouncing around in my mind."

Further studies show that a great number of earthquakes in northern Chile have allowed the researchers to examine their behavior over a longer period of time. This makes patterns much easier to determine and figure out.

A lot of these major cracks have been found in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth.

"We may get to test out predictions about earthquakes if the next great earthquake there happens in the next couple of decades," said Allmendinger. Those predictions include rethinking a number of models to study material behaviors.

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