This Earthquake Behaves Like a Boomerang and Leaves Geologists Speechless

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The National Earthquake Information Center reveals to the public that about 55 earthquakes are happening every day on the planet. Luckily for all of us, the vast majority of them are too weak to pose any threat, and they also usually perform their play during only one shot. But nature is always prepared to show us that exceptions can be made.

During a new study, scientists have found evidence of a ‘boomerang’ earthquake that shook the deep seabed below the Atlantic Ocean way back in 2016.

The earthquake occurred along the Romanche fracture zone

The zone lies near the equator, and also mid-way between the west coast of Africa and the east coast of Brazil. The region was hardly hit by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Scientific analysis reveals that the earthquake went one way before turning around and coming back for another round at an even faster speed.

Stephen Hicks from Imperial College London, who is lead researcher and seismologist, declared:

“Whilst scientists have found that such a reversing rupture mechanism is possible from theoretical models, our new study provides some of the clearest evidence for this enigmatic mechanism occurring in a real fault,”

The rupture first propagated upward and eastward in the direction where the fracture zone meets the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Then, a back-propagation westwards took place, as the quake headed back to the center of the fault.

Hicks further speaks about how unusual the earthquake was:

“Even though the fault structure seems simple, the way the earthquake grew was not, and this was completely opposite to how we expected the earthquake to look before we started to analyse the data,”

The researchers involved still tried to provide an explanation for the peculiar behavior of the 2016 earthquake. They believe that the deeper phase of the quake released enough fracture energy for initiating the rupture reversal in the shallower and westerly realm.

The discovery was reported in Nature Geoscience.

Doris’s passion for writing started to take shape in college where she was editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. Even though she ended up working in IT for more than 7 years, she’s now back to what he always enjoyed doing. With a true passion for technology, Doris mostly covers tech-related topics.