Do hurricanes cause earthquakes? And why?

do-hurricanes-cause-earthquakes-and-why


The coinage of the term “hurricanes earthquakes” harks back to Win Yuan Van, an expert in Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Florida. With the aid of his team, Van has recently discovered the geological phenomenon responsible for some seismic events similar to those of earthquakes, yet these ones occur in conjunction with hurricanes or other strong storms.


Researchers have discovered a new geophysical phenomenon characterized by seismic movements; occasioned by a hurricane or other strong storms besides oceans. Also, the force of this phenomenon less than or equal to 3.5 on the Richter scale.


The team attributed the simultaneous occurrence of earthquakes and hurricanes to the mutual influence between the atmosphere, land, and ocean. In fact, hurricanes engender enough energy to cause oceans strong waves; when these ones interact with the earth’s crust at the bottom of the ocean, potentially seismic activity is caused.


Earthquake analysis for the past decade


Based on the earthquakes and the oceanographic analysis, the researchers noticed a causal link between the intense seismic movements; and the strong storms near the edge of the continental plates. Also, they discovered more than 10,000 earthquakes between 2006 to 2019 on New England; Florida shores; the Gulf of Mexico in the US; Nova Scotia; Newfoundland; and British Columbia in Canada.


The study showed that seismic sources in the ocean are similar to those of earthquakes in the Earth’s crust. However, they both differ in duration. In fact, earthquakes do not exceed a few minutes; while the team discovered that hurricane earthquakes last for hours and possibly days.


The researchers have developed a new method for detecting seismic events; their location; nature; and whether they are hurricanes or earthquakes. These traits can easily be tracked during a windy day and must meet other geophysical standards; in tandem with the nexus between the force of the storm and the emergence of an earthquake.


Thanks to this new approach, scientists can thus discern seismic events from earthquakes. This helps to avoid falling into the range of cyclonic earthquakes.


Examples of hurricanes coinciding with earthquakes


Hurricane Belle struck the Atlantic Ocean in 2009. The latter was accompanied by numerous seismic movements from the coast of New England and Nova Scotia. These, in turn, produce intercontinental surface waves.


Likewise, 2008 Hurricane Ike caused seismic movements in the Gulf of Mexico. Therefore, this occasioned seismic activity coincided with 2011 Hurricane Irene off the shores of Florida.


Not every hurricane is a source of earthquakes


Researchers have observed that Earthquakes are not related to the strength of some types of Hurricanes. Therefore, researchers’ hypothesis cannot hold true for all hurricanes.


Scientists have not provided any evidence of earthquakes in Mexico. Though Hurricane Sandy was one of the fiercest storms recorded in the US, it did not engender any storm earthquakes.


This endorses that the mechanism of hurricane earthquakes occurrence does not pertain to seabed topography and local oceanic features. For this reason, researchers strive to give their utmost to characterize this new phenomenon. Also, study its factors that may affect the mechanism of its action.


We mention that this study is an outcome of the veritable cooperation of researchers from the University of Florida; the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; the Scripps Institution of Oceanography; and the American Geological Survey.

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