Scientists say more big quakes possible next year due to Earth's rotation slowing

American scientists say they have found a correlation between sporadic slowing of the Earth's rotation and an increase in the number of severe earthquakes - and a surge is due next year.

Professor Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado in Boulder and Rebecca Bendick of the University of Montana wrote a paper on the subject and presented it at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America between 4-7 November.

The research examined historic records of severe earthquakes dating back to 1900, and found five periods where the number of severe earthquakes was significantly higher than usual.

During those times, the number of big quakes was "between 25 and 30," Professor Bilham wrote, compared with average numbers of about 15 per year, worldwide.

Scientists from around the world are focusing on the Hikurangi Subduction Zone which runs from Marlborough to the east coast of the North Island. Source: 1 NEWS

Every so often, the rotation of the Earth slows down slightly - by up to a millisecond per day - and the paper argues that approximate five years after these slowdowns occur, a period of increase in earthquakes also occurs.

Crucially, the paper notes that one such period of increase earthquakes is due next year, in 2018.

"Next year we should see a significant increase in numbers of severe earthquakes," Bilham told The Observer.

"We have had it easy this year ... so far we have only had about six severe earthquakes - we could easily have 20 a year starting in 2018."

The reasons for both the rotational slowdowns and correlating increase in earthquakes is unknown, but researchers theorise that it could be something to do with the behaviour of Earth's core.

The study also noted that a higher number of severe quakes took place nearer the equator in the tropics during post-slowdown surges.

Not all agreed with the conclusions however.

"The Otago Earthquake Science group does not support the primary conclusion of this article," said Professor Mark Stirling, Chair of Earthquake Science, University of Otago.

"We see it as yet another example of a fortuitous correlation between earthquake occurrence and an unrelated phenomenon.

"Earthquake rates fluctuate greatly around the plate boundaries of the world, and many explanations for the fluctuations have been provided over the years (e.g. Super Moon, Diurnal controls, Earth Orbit Eccentricity). While the researchers involved in this most recent work are very well known and regarded, we have no basis to support their conclusions at this time."
 

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'Can't breathe, help me' – callous US nurses laugh, fail to perform CPR, as WWII vet dies in front of them

Two nurses in the US have lost their practicing licences after a shocking incident where an 89-year-old war veteran struggling to breathe died in their care.

Surveillance footage from the Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation Centre in 2014 was released last week after pressure from local news network WXIA-TV.

The shocking video shows WWll war veteran James Dempsey calling for help in his bed as he struggles to breathe after his breathing machine failed.

"Can't breathe, help me, help me," the 89-year-old can be heard saying.

Despite pressing his aid buzzer, no one came to help for a full seven minutes. The surveillance video showing that when a nurse did finally appear she only adjusted his bed before leaving the stricken man.

Two nurses then returned at 6:23am, more than 90 minutes after Mr Dempsey first called for help.

They can be heard laughing in the video, moving with little speed to try and revive the veteran, who was pronounced dead an hour later once paramedics were called.

In an interview with police one of the unnamed care workers involved in the case stated she had given CPR to Mr Dempsey immediately until paramedics arrived.

The video disproved this statement, leading to her and one other nurse having their licence revoked.

The family of Mr Dempsey came to an undisclosed settlement with the nursing home over the incident.

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Watch: Man casually feeding crocodile on Aussie beach sparks warning - 'A silly thing to do'

Footage of a man in Australia feeding a crocodile on a beach has sparked a warning from authorities. 

The man, known as Dima, sits on a beach in the Northern Territory as the croc swims up to him to receive a fish. 

Dima is from the Indigenous Australian clan of Gumatj, who think of crocodiles as family and view them protectors, according to Aboriginal news site welcometocountry.com. 

The crocodile, named Nike, visits the beach in Arnhem Land regularly.

Local wildlife ranger Tommy Nichols told Northern Territory News that saltwater crocodiles are "extremely unpredicable" and the man's stunt is "a silly thing to do".

"It's best to leave the crocodiles well out of the way," Mr Nichols said.

The community say Nike is treated with caution and respect, reports welcometocountry.