Scientists have observed a rare type of earthquake in the ocean for the first time. Known as a boomerang, this quake could help scientists prepare early warning systems.
Scientists from the University of Southampton and Imperial College London carried out a study during which they examined the path one of these quakes under the Atlantic ocean.
They found out that in case of the boomerang earthquakes, the rupture initially travels away from the original break but returns at higher speeds.
Earthquakes usually occur when pressures build up between two pieces of Earth’s crust and it is released eventually. As a result of this, tremors are felt. If the intensity is high, the earthquakes can cause serious large scale damage.
A boomerang earthquake can do more damage than the normal quakes as the high speed of the returning wave increases the area of destruction. What happens is while coming back, the rupture the seismic sound barrier, and due to which it creates an ultra-fast earthquake.
Gathering more information about how boomerang earthquakes occur and the physics involved in it will help create better models to predict future earthquakes.
The study published in Nature Geoscience reveals that the team recorded a magnitude 7.1 earthquake in the Atlantic Ocean in 2016 and it could have been this rare type of quake. They detected it using underwater seismic sensors.
"Whilst scientists have found that such a reversing rupture mechanism is possible from theoretical models, our new study provides some of the clearest evidence for this enigmatic mechanism occurring in a real fault," said Stephen Hicks, first author of the study.