Earth's Rotation Altered Following Recent Chile Earthquake
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has recently announced that according to their calculations, the Earth's axis may have been shifted up to three inches as a result of the 8.8 earthquake that struck Chile on February 27, causing extensive damage and triggering tsunami warnings across the Pacific. Richard Gross, a NASA geophysicist, said computer models show that the quake shifted the distribution of the mass of the planet and as a result the rotation of the earth has been permanently altered, making each day 1.26 microseconds shorter.
Though rare, this is not an unprecedented event, as the 2004 Boxer Day earthquake also shortened the length of an Earth day by 6.8 microseconds. "Any worldly event that involves the movement of mass affects the Earth's rotation," explained Benjamin Fong Chao after studying the 2005 phenomenon at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Scientists explain that this can be compared to an ice skater pulling in her arms to spin faster. Or in this case, a giant world-sized skater pulling in her arms.