20 Minute Seismic Wave That Shook The Entire Planet On 11/11 Has Scientists Baffled

Thursday, 29 November 2018 - 11:21AM
Science News
Thursday, 29 November 2018 - 11:21AM
20 Minute Seismic Wave That Shook The Entire Planet On 11/11 Has Scientists Baffled
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Composite from Pixabay
Before you ask: we're relatively sure it wasn't the graboids from Tremors and that we do not need to call Kevin Bacon. Earlier this month, a global 20-minute seismic event was recorded by sensors in different parts of the world, but scientists are still not sure what caused it. The waves may be linked to a swarm of earthquakes that have been shaking the Mayotte archipelago in the Indian Ocean, or it could be something completely unrelated.

The November 11 event began off the coast of Mayotte and rippled diagonally across Africa according to National Geographic, hitting sensors in Kenya, Zambia, and Namibia. The waves were also picked up by sensors in Canada, New Zealand, Chile, and Hawaii and repeated for about 20 minutes, but were apparently not strong enough for people to feel and report them. "I don't think I've seen anything like it," said Columbia University seismologist Göran Ekström after seeing the graph image of the anomaly (first shared on Twitter by user @matarikipax). "It doesn't mean that, in the end, the cause of them is that exotic." While maybe not exotic, the waves are certainly weird, primarily because there wasn't an earthquake event that would have normally caused this particular brand of seismic wave. Or was there?

Ekström suggests that maybe a magnitude-5 "slow earthquake" caused the waves, but that it went unnoticed because of how they occur (over time instead of all at once). "The same deformation happens, but it doesn't happen as a jolt," the seismologist said. National Geographic points out that slow earthquakes are often linked to volcanic activity, which tracks with the theory that the mystery event was linked to the Mayotte quakes because Mayotte was formed by a volcano. There hasn't been an eruption in 4,000 years, but that doesn't mean that things aren't happening beneath the surface.

Others have shared educated guesses as to what caused the anomaly, but the truth is that no one really knows. The French Geological Survey is monitoring the area of the swarm and plans to survey the ocean floor for more answers, but it's possible that they will never know what rocked the world that day.

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