More than 30,000 earthquakes have rocked Antarctica since late August, according to the University of Chile, a spike in seismic activity that has sparked the minds of researchers exploring the remote, snowy continent.
Scientists with the university’s National Seismological Center said the small earthquakes – including one magnitude 6 magnitude earthquake – were found in the Bransfield Strait, a 60-mile (96-km) ocean channel between the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula.
Several tectonic plates and microplates meet near the strait, often leading to rumble, but the past three months have been unusual, according to the center.
“Most of the seismicity is concentrated at the beginning of the series, mostly during the month of September, with more than a thousand earthquakes per day,” the center said.
The vibrations have become so frequent that the strait itself, once increasing in width at a rate of about 7 or 8 mm per year is now widening by 15 cm per year, the council said. -centre.
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“It’s a 20-fold increase … that shows right now … the Shetland Islands are separating faster from the Antarctic peninsula,” said Sergio Barrientos, director the center.
The peninsula is one of the fastest warming places on Earth, and scientists are closely monitoring the effects of climate change on icebergs and glaciers. streams.
But climate scientist Raul Cordero of the University of Santiago said it was not yet clear how the quake could affect the region’s ice.
“There is no evidence that seismic activity of this nature has a significant impact on the stability of polar ice caps,” Cordero told Reuters.
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