The Antarctic Peninsula has been ‘rocking’ since the end of August as more than 30,000 tremors have hit the region, stated a report from the National Seismological Centre of Chile. According to the researchers, the movement of tectonic plates is the cause of the tremors. However, the said number is quite unusual, and there may be even larger ones shortly.
It was in the Bransfield Strait, a 60-mile wide (96-km) ocean channel between the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula where the tremors were first detected. Additionally, the intensity of the earthquakes ranged greatly from 0.9 magnitudes to even 5.6 magnitudes in the Richter scale.
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According to the Chilean researchers, the tectonic plates and the microplates which meet near the strait can be the normal cause of the tremors. However, the shocking thing for them is the recent rise in the number of tremors and that too in the last three months. Additionally, the tremors which were registered were the most detectable or conspicuous ones. Hence they anticipate that the number could grow after further studies.
It was in late August when the tremors were first registered with a 4.9 magnitude on 29 and another of 5.4 magnitude the next day. This then transformed to an average of 1,000 per day in September, which was then reduced to 100 localised tremors in November.
Such was the frequency that the strait which usually increases in width at a rate of about seven-eight mm a year has now expanded by 15 cm in a year. One of the researchers concluded that this suggests that the Shetland Islands are separating faster from the Antarctic Peninsula.
This peninsula is witnessing some of the most rapid warmings on Earth. Antarctic Peninsula just in the last 50 years has warmed almost 3ºC (5.4 Fahrenheit) which is much higher than the global average of 0.9ºC (1.6 Fahrenheit). The visible effects of this include reduction of penguin population, ice retreat, and snow turning red.
Scientists also argue that it might not be clear as to how the larger number of earthquakes will be affecting the regions’ already depleting ice due to climate change.
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