Friday, December 24, 2010


I didn't know the term spacequakes before, but I came across it in an article in the Christian Science Monitor (a periodical and now web site that I respect, despite its origin and title).
Aurora (from Christian Science Monitor)
Like an earthquake in space, so-called spacequakes are temblors in Earth's magnetic field caused by plasma flying off the sun that could help generate the colorful auroras that dance high in Earth's atmosphere, a new study suggests.

"Magnetic reverberations have been detected at ground stations all around the globe, much like seismic detectors measure a large earthquake," said Vassilis Angelopoulos of UCLA.

And these rumbles can pack a punch.  "The total energy in a spacequake can rival that of a magnitude 5 or 6 earthquake," according to Evgeny Panov of the Space Research Institute in Austria. Panov is first author of a paper reporting the results of a study on spacequakes in the April 2010 issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

Energies of earthquakes and other phenomena (from USGS)

I like it when different physical phenomena inter-relate!  Especially this one, that crosses over from my major specialty within geophysics, which is actually not earthquakes/seismology but geomagnetism. So wholistic!

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