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Japan Earthquake Quickens Earth’s Rotation

By changing the distribution of mass on Earth, Japan’s earthquake sped up the planet’s rotation, shortening the day by 1.8 microseconds, N.A.S.A. geophysicist Richard Gross has found.

The distribution of Earth’s mass due the shifting tectonic plates around Japan was so significant that the speed of the planet’s rotation has increased: “The intense temblor has accelerated Earth’s spin, shortening the length of the 24-hour day by 1.8 microseconds, according to geophysicist Richard Gross at N.A.S.A.’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. … The scenario is similar to that of a figure skater drawing her arms inward during a spin to turn faster on the ice. The closer the mass shift during an earthquake is to the equator, the more it will speed up the spinning Earth.”


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