Research has revealed that the powerful earthquake that killed hundreds of people in Chile probably shifted the earthâ€™s axis and made days slightly shorter.
Geologists and scientists say earthquakes happen because the outer layer of the earth crust is slowly being deformed by stresses that are placed on the crust and the change in day length is purely scientific and not visible to the ordinary person.
The earth is divided into a number of plates. The earth is however not static and earthquakes occur because of disturbances inside the earth with plates moving either vertically or laterally.
Ministry Of Science and Technology development Permanent Secretary Professor Francis Gudyanga says movements of the tectonic plates have devastating effects both nearby countries as well as those that are far away.
Recently an earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale hit Chile killing more than 700 people. Researchers however said the quake is likely to have moved the Earth’s axis by about 8 centimetres and shortened the day by about 1.26 microseconds.
University of Zimbabwe Geology lecturer Dr Dennis Shoko says Earth days are 24 hours long because that is the amount of time it takes the planet to make one full rotation on its axis, so shifting the axis would affect the rotation.
Dr Shoko added that the shortening of the day is only temporary.
Volcanic eruptions, rockfalls, landslides, and explosions can also cause a quake, but most of these are only limited to the locality. Shock waves from a powerful earthquake can trigger smaller earthquakes in a distant location hundreds of kilometers away if the geologic conditions are favorable.
With the devastating effects earthquakes have on the people, some question if these geologists can predict the coming of an earthquake. Dr Shoko says it is very difficult for geologists to come up with the predictions. He said some countries have resorted to buildings that can withstand earthquakes as they have failed to predict their comingâ€¦