Scientists have found strong evidence that 2018 will see a big and small number of large earthquakes increasing globally. Geophysicists have been calculated extremely slight variations in the rotational speed of Earth (few milliseconds per day), causes linkage to an observed cyclical increase in the number of severe earthquakes.

The data that supports the cyclical slowdown then speed up of Earth’s rotation. The research team is then tasked with the “why” to explain this phenomenon. While scientists aren’t exactly sure the mechanisms that produce this variation, there are a few hypotheses defined as Earth’s outer core, a liquid metal layer of the planet that circulates underneath the solid lower mantle. The thought is that the outer core can at times “stick” to the mantle, causing a disruption in its flow. This would alter Earth’s magnetic field and produce a temporary hiccup in Earth’s rotation.

Earthquakes remain the most difficult natural disaster to predict. They tend to occur with little to no forewarning and can thus be incredibly destructive. Often times, geologists are limited to historical trends in data to predict the likelihood an earthquake will occur. This new research provides another dataset to inform communities about the near-term risks they face.

Author of the article is Khalid Ahmed Mirani (Associate Curator) Sedimentologist at PMNH Islamabad.