Report: 'Stable' Antarctica feels 50,000 quakes in 3 months

Scientists at the University of Chile’s Seismological Center say that Antarctica, normally a stable region of the world, has had thousands of earthquakes in just the last three months.

The estimates range from 30,000 to 50,000, with some measuring less than 1 on the Richter scale. Others are up to 6, reported Israel365 News.

“The Antarctic is characteristically seismically stable leading geologists to joke that an earthquake would shake all of the people in the world down to the icy peninsula at the globe’s bottom,” the report noted. “But the past season has belied that statement with an unprecedented 30,000-50,000 tremors shaking the Antarctic in the past three months, all concentrated in one spot.”

The spot is the Bransfield Strait, a 60-mile-wide body of water extending for some 300 miles.

The report explained that before the quakes, the strait was expanding by about one-third of an inch per year. Now it’s moving at six inches annually.

“Most of the seismicity is concentrated at the beginning of the sequence, mainly during the month of September, with more than a thousand earthquakes a day,” the Seismological Center said.

The area already is under scrutiny for its melting ice cap, and some have suggested buried volcanoes could be a reason.

If there are volcanoes, they also could explain the seismic activity and the huge chunks of ice falling off of ice floes into the ocean.

“It is also possible that the shaking is being caused by methane vents opening up. Earlier this year, a team of researchers with Oregon State University has confirmed the first active leak of sea-bed methane discovered at McMurdo Sound situated in the Ross Sea. Scientists believe that there is a large amount of methane sealed beneath the ocean floor off the coast of Antarctica,” the report said.

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