Climate Change And Earthquakes
Rising temperatures could prompt a reaction from the Earth around the globe.
As the sea level rises due to climate change, the most likely earthquakes will be affected in many ways.
1. When one tectonic plate moves against the other under the ocean, water is displaced causing a tsunami.
2. Rising sea levels increase the load on the ocean floor and therefore reduce the ease with which the submarine segments of the tectonic plates can move across each other, making ruptures (and therefore tsunamis) less likely.
3. With a higher sea level, the part of the subduction fault under the ocean now has much more weight bearing down on it than the part which isn’t. This reduces the friction between the tectonic plates in the part of the fault beneath land, increasing the earthquake threat to coastal cities.
4. Away from the Cascadia subduction zone, a different process will be at play. As sea levels rise, the Earth’s crust bends in such a way that it ‘unclamps’ faults that run parallel with the coast, such as California’s San Andreas Fault. The reduction in friction makes ‘quakes more likely.