Did you know that earthquakes are not the only way that tectonic plates move? Earthquakes are a quick, jarring motion causing a lot of friction and often destruction. So what’s a slow slip? And do slow slips contribute to increased earthquake activity? Below are 8 facts about slow slips:
- Slow slips tend to be slower and quieter than earthquakes – a movement that doesn’t even show up on seismographs.
- Slow slipping happens deep below the earth’s surface.
- Slow slip sometimes only last a few days, but they can also last a few months.
- Slow slips are thought to sometimes trigger earthquakes but this is not a proven fact. Seismologists tend to believe that a better understanding of slow slips might help provide better, earlier earthquake warning.
- Some slow slip events have also been thought to relieve stress along a fault line, postponing an earthquake.
- In the Pacific NorthWest (a part of the Pacific Ring of Fire), every 14 months thousands of tiny tremors indicate a slow slip.
- Seismologists on Vancouver Island are tracking these regular slow slips and believe that these slow slips add extra stress onto the Cascadia Subduction Zone while they’re happening—a boundary that is already under a lot of tension. The concern is that a little extra pressure could (and will eventually) cause the rupture to trigger. This is what’s been termed “The Big One.”
- A couple years back, Japanese seismologists released a study showing a correlation between every large earthquake and a slow slip that was happening at the same time.
All of the above facts are good reminders to empower yourself with the knowledge and products that make you prepared for emergencies. This means equipping your home with earthquake kits, and having a household plan. You might also want to keep a pair of shoes under your bed in case you’re asleep when a quake hits.
Although earthquake detection still comes down to a matter of seconds, those seconds can be life-savers! That’s why it’s not a bad idea to have a quake alarm detector and follow Environment Canada and other authorities on natural disasters, on social media.
-Post written by Sophie Wooding