A destroyed building in Concepcion, Chile.

According to a recent study done by Chilean and American researchers at the Ohio State University, the magnitude-8.8 earthquake that rocked the west coast of Chile on February 27th was strong enough to move the city of Concepcion at least 10 feet/3.04m to the west and the capital, Santiago, about 11 inches/28cm to the west-southwest. The quake also shifted other parts of South America, as far apart as the Falkland Islands and Fortaleza, Brazil.


NASA scientists have also credited the quake with shifting the Earth’s axis enough to create shorter days. The change is tiny, but it is still worth attention: A day on Earth will be an average of 1.26 microseconds shorter, according to preliminary calculations.


A graphic created by the Central and Southern Andes GPS Project. It shows the displacement in centimetres of the area surrounding the Chile earthquake epicentre. Concepcion moved the furthest at 303.9cm

Why is that? A large earthquake shifts massive amounts of rock and alters the distribution of mass on the planet. When that mass distribution changes, it changes the rate at which the planet rotates, therefore changing the length of a day. Thus, scientists see opportunities to gain valuable information about this natural phenomenon: “The Maule earthquake will arguably become one of the, if not the most important, great earthquakes yet studied,” said Ben Brooks of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawaii.


The earthquake shifted land as far apart as the Falkland Islands and Fortaleza, Brazil

Via the pulse