Human Induced Earthquakes: Section 5 | Global Warming


Anthropogenic Earthquake Week at CatMap

Can Global Warming Cause Earthquakes?

  • CAUSAL PROBABILITY: Low But Increasing

Rising Greenland Land Mass and Expanding Sea Volume Stresses Planet

Up until this point in our earthquake coverage, the man made earthquake cause and effect chain have been widely acknowledged by geological science. That means that virtually all scientists not under the rule of a pillaging corporation or corrupt government understand induced seismicity to be a reality. Realistically however, it is unlikely that absolute causality will be publicly proven – in a lawsuit for example – because the people who control wealth make sure the legal system works in their favor. The six corporations which own 90% of American media have other priorities. Nevertheless, the previously mentioned scenarios are scientifically valid if not widely publicized.

On the other hand, the topic of global warming-induced earthquakes puts us out on a limb a few feet in terms of strict scientific cause and effect. But not as far as you might think…and we are not alone out here.

Global warming-induced seismic events would work like this: In spite of the fact that the ground we walk on seems solid, the globe we know as Earth is surprisingly elastic. Furthermore, what happens in one part of the spinning orb affects conditions around the planet. One analogy used often is that of the Earth as a giant orange or rubber ball. Squeezing the ball at the top caused it to bulge out at the sides.

Dismissing for the time being the possibility of a giant hand from space squeezing our planet (see Angry Deity – Section 7), what else could cause the same effect? Well, what if, for example, the trillions of tons of ice resting on the Antarctic and Greenland land masses began melting at unprecedented rates? This would allow the land masses to rise and redistribute the weight pressing down on major geologic structures, possibly causing instability in the Earth’s crust and tectonic plates. And that is precisely what is happening now.

Now consider the fact that the oceans of the world are also expanding rapidly due to warming. Republicans in several southeastern states have passed legislation forbidding the assessment of rising sea levels scientifically, but that doesn’t change the fact that ocean levels are rising in most locations around the world, and at an increasingly rapid rate. Ask the people of New York and New Jersey, or less important locations such as Bangladesh and Kiribati. This is, of course, a direct result of massive amounts of additional water flowing into the oceans from melting land ice, which in turn increases the pressure on the oceanic crust and tectonic plates. The volume of the ocean is also increasing due to the expansion of the water because of rapid warming. Therefore, the density of the ocean water mass and thus the weight is also in flux. This sudden turmoil is in turn changing the distribution of oceanic water along with ocean currents.

Think about it: a trillions of tons of mass are being shifted around the planet at a rate much faster than such changes usually occur. Why would a change in the disposition of the single largest component of the Earth’s makeup not be a factor in destabilizing the tectonic plates that comprise the continental land masses? Maybe the question should be: how could global warming not be a cause of increased seismic activity?

As is the case with our previous scenarios, this is not a particularly new idea. The mutual interactive effects between plate tectonics and climate has been acknowledged and studied for more than a century. The horizontal and vertical displacements associated with plate tectonics have played a fundamental role in climate change over millions of years. That’s because the solid-earth surface is in direct contact with the atmosphere and oceans, at which interface its evolving character affects balances of incoming and outgoing radiation, atmospheric circulation, ocean currents, and the location of elevated terrain suitable for glaciers and ice sheets.

Climate Change May Cause Earthquakes

Furthermore, global geochemical processes are also known to be affected by tectonics and climate. In other words, it all works together, you might say organically.

This is also a relatively new scientific discipline and the interplay of these factors is still only partially understood. According to Norman Sleep of the Stanford University Department of Physics, comparative planetology and further terrestrial studies are likely to yield additional examples of climatic, biological, and tectonic interaction.

Not a lot of scientists are publicly getting behind these concepts yet for fear of ridicule or even career suicide (but there are some). It may be nice to imagine academic research is an objective and independent process, but in reality the corporate world controls more and more of this process through grants and other forms of pressure. In particular, the topic of global warming is so politicized as to be toxic, even though 97% of all climate scientists are in agreement that the planet is warming and humans have something to do with it. If you add earthquakes to the global warming mix, there is little to gain for any academic willing to release a hypothesis that can’t be proven1.

As a result, we are not yet at a place where most scientists are willing to make a media announcement claiming they can prove cause and effect for a climate / earthquake causal sequence; nevertheless, theories have been advanced and papers have been written on the topic.

Credible Sources: Out of the Science Closet
In a CNN column in 2010, journalist Alan Weisman claimed that glacial melting due to climate change could be unleashing pent up pressures in the earth’s crust, causing quakes and volcanoes. Boy you could hear the knees jerking over at FOX News climate skeptic headquarters as the scientists there lined up to denounce Weisman. No way. Weisman is as crazy as Al Gore. The language used, as always, was dismissive and abusive, a testosterone driven iconoclasm anchored in nothing but wishful thinking.

Weisman was not the first to venture such an idea. There are a number of credible scientific sources who had already predicted that the changing pressures created by glacial melting could release pent-up stresses in the earth’s crust, causing earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. For example, in an April 3, 2008 New Scientist article, geologists Carolina Pagli, and Freysteinn Sigmundss speculated on this very topic. And as long ago as 2004, the screaming liberal weenies on NASA’s website created a page entitled Retreating Glaciers Spur Alaskan Earthquakes. The 2002 Denali earthquake in Alaska (magnitude 7.9) is widely believed to have triggered events thousands of kilometers away at Yellowstone in Wyoming.

More dramatic perhaps was the release of a 2012 article in Geology magazine citing the relationship between melting ice and increased volcanism. The research is a combined effort of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany and Harvard University3. In this paper, Steffen Kutterolf and his associates cite evidence that when the weight of ice is removed from a major ice cap, increased volcanic activity is the result. Referencing geodynamic principles similar to those we have already discussed, Kutterolf attributes the lowering of pressure in mantle rocks below volcanic regions. The paper suggests that the recent eruptions of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland may be related to global warming and melting ice.

Quatemala Earthquake

We can’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that anthropogenic global warming is causing glacier retreat, which is in turn causing the earth’s crust to stretch and rebound, which is ultimately causing earthquakes and volcanoes.

But we can prove that this is a restless, shifting, malleable planet by nature, with huge imbalances between solid and liquid states, all surrounding a volatile molten core at its center attempting to break free of its constraints. It might not take that much, you know, to really mess things up?


1) Remember, a significant portion of the population believes in the Biblical story of creation in Genesis, but does not “believe” in evolution.

2) Science has known for some time that volcanic activity can cause short-term variations in climate, but the fact that this process also works in reverse is less intuitive.

3) Not too shabby


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