Quake May Have Made Earth Wobble:
"Richard Gross, a geophysicist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, theorized that a shift of mass toward the Earth's center during the quake on Sunday caused the planet to spin 3 microseconds faster and to tilt about an inch on its axis. When one huge tectonic plate beneath the Indian Ocean was forced below the edge of another 'it had the effect of making the Earth more compact and spinning faster,' Gross said."

Update, 11-Jan-2005: NASA Details Earthquake Effects on the Earth:

The "mean North pole" was shifted by about 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) in the direction of 145 degrees East Longitude. The earthquake also decreased the length of day by 2.68 microseconds.
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8 Responses:

  1. batmite2000 says:

    So are we all gonna die, then? :)

  2. pavel_lishin says:

    Great... now my accurate-to-the-microsecond calendar is useless!

  3. mark242 says:

    how long until we see a patch to ntp?

    • jwz says:

      Those patches are called "leap seconds".

      The article is imprecise; it says "3 microseconds faster", but over what period? Even if that's "per day", that's still only a change of 0.001096 second per year, or around 1/913th second.

      So, only 913 tsunamis to go.

  4. transiit says:

    Me, I'm a lazy man.

    So lazy that I wouldn't bother looking up whether or not there were any subduction zones in the area, thus substantiating that there was a shift of mass toward the center.

    My layman brain says "no", as India's been subducting under Asia for who-knows how long, so I'd see a divergence anywhere that'd be sub-oceanic.

    But I've been wrong many a time before, and I do readily admit that I won't personally look it up. Hardly worth wasting a few microseconds over.

    For those that think I'm being sarcastic, think self-deprecating.

    When geophysicists get as excited about mid-oceanic ridges ("Spreading centers", they call 'em. That'd be where the mantle spews out some additional cruft to make some more oceanic crust) and their effects on the calendar year, maybe, just maybe, I'll give a damn.

    I think they should get back to figuring out a provably correct driving mechanism behind plate tectonics (no, they still aren't really certain why the plates are moving around, they just make a lot of hay over the perceivable after-effects)

    Heck, ask a geologist some time that if new crust is formed at mid-oceanic ridges (oceanic crust being basaltic), where does the granitic continental crust come from?


  5. benediktus says:

    quotation: "i remember doing the time warp [...] it's just a jump to the left [...]"

  6. sashamalchik says:

    I'm pretty sure at some point you posted about tsunami in SF, but I can't find that post now. Here's a new article from sfgate on the topic.