Earthquake in Chile altered the planetary axis and shortened our days

Posted By: The Ski Channel on March 2, 2010 1:57 pm

That’s right. The earthquake that hit Chile last Saturday was so strong, it temporarily redistributed Earth’s mass, causing its axis to shift…causing days to be shortened.

Less daylight to ski? Oh no! Better find a place that has some night skiing action!

Well, hold on there, Tex. No reason at all to freak, the days will only shorten by 1.26 millionths of a second. Still pretty cool though. So how did this quake shorten our days? Scientists compare it to a figure skater. If she pulls her arms in while spinning, she spins faster. Imagine one tectonic plate diving under another. That’s like a figure skater pulling her arms in, and that’s the kind of earthquake that happened in Chile. It made the earth spin faster, if only very very slightly. Keith Sverdrup, seismologist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, explained, “The layer of rock on the [Nasca plate] dove down into the Earth’s interior, and that’s like the skater pulling her arms in toward her body”.

The shorter Earth day won’t be permanent, but there’s no way to tell how long it will last. Cool, cool stuff.