22 May '11, 5pm

'Slow quakes' finish off with a quick backwards flip

'Slow quakes' finish off with a quick backwards flip

Earthquakes aren't always as fast and furious as the natural disasters that devastated Japan and New Zealand this year. They can be long slow rumbles that last for 4 weeks. And although these slower cousins can't be felt, the monitoring of their cycles may give clues to how stress builds up deep in the earth's crust - and eventually lead to a megathrust quake. Seismologists based at the University of Washington (UW) - who have been tracking these so-called 'episodic tremors' - have now discovered another intriguing aspect to their behavior. After a gradual rumbling through the slip zone, the tremors can suddenly reverse direction - and pass relatively quickly back through the area that the slower tremors have crawled. The team from UW, which included lead author Heidi Houston, have just published their results in Nature Geoscience . The ponderous earthquakes they have been...

Full article: http://www.earthtimes.org/nature/slow-quakes-finish-backw...

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