EARTH: Earthquake? Blame it on the rain

October 23, 2012

Alexandria, VA - The U.S. Geological Survey's website states it in no uncertain terms: "There is no such thing as 'earthquake weather.'" Yet, from at least the time of Aristotle, some people have professed links between atmospheric conditions and seismic shaking. For the most part, these hypotheses have not held up under scientific scrutiny and earthquake researchers have set them aside as intriguing but unfounded ideas. However, in the last decade new efforts to identify effects of weather-related, or in some cases climate-related, processes on seismicity have drawn new interest.

Researchers are beginning to take a closer look at the Main Himalayan Thrust in northern India and Nepal, inland regions of Taiwan and seismically active semi-tropical regions like Haiti for evidence of weather-induced seismicity. These groups postulate that tremendous excesses of rainwater falling over short amounts of time may alter the stresses acting on faults, potentially triggering earthquakes to occur sooner than they otherwise would. How will this research affect earthquake preparedness in the future? Read the full story online at
Make sure to check out this story and more in the November issue of EARTH Magazine. Pluto takes its revenge; a new catalyst shows promise for methane oxidation; and geoscientists reveal their own "Earth telescope" all in this month's issue.

Keep up to date with the latest happenings in Earth, energy and environment news with EARTH magazine online at Published by the American Geosciences Institute, EARTH is your source for the science behind the headlines.

The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society's use of resources, resiliency to natural hazards, and interaction with the environment.

American Geosciences Institute

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