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Full Moons likely to cause Bigger Earthquakes, says Researchers at University of Tokyo

While the theory is not new, the study is the first to find a statistical link between the moon and earthquakes

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Seagulls fly as the full moon rises behind the ancient marble Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, southeast of Athens, on the eve of the summer solstice. VOA

September 14, 2016: Researchers at the University of Tokyo say large quakes are more likely during high tides, which happen twice a day. During high tides, the oceans are pulled by the moon’s gravity, but during a full and new moon, twice a month, the tides are particularly high, especially when the moon, the sun, and Earth line up.

Full moons may cause bigger earthquakes, according to a new study. This, researchers say, can further stress geological faults, triggering earthquakes.

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“The probability of a tiny rock failure expanding to a gigantic rupture increases with increasing tidal stress levels,” the researchers wrote in an article that appeared in the British journal Nature Geoscience.

While the theory is not new, the study is the first to find a statistical link between the moon and earthquakes.

For example, the researchers found that the 2004 Sumatra quake as well as a major 2011 quake in Japan both happened during high tides. The researchers say nine of the 12 biggest quakes ever recorded were timed with full or new moons.

The findings could help with earthquake forecasting, especially in places like Japan where earthquakes are common.

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“Scientists will find this result if confirmed, quite interesting,” said University of Washington seismologist John Vidale, who was not involved in the study.

But he added that “even if there is a strong correlation of big earthquakes with full or new moons, the chance any given week of a deadly earthquake remains minuscule.”(VOA)

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New Study Indicates, Life on Earth May Have Begun in Ponds But Not Oceans

"Our overall message is, if you think the origin of life required fixed nitrogen, as many people do, then it's tough to have the origin of life happen in the ocean," s

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Nitrogenous oxides were likely deposited in water bodies, including oceans and ponds, as remnants of the breakdown of nitrogen in Earth's atmosphere. Pixabay

Challenging a common perception, a new study suggests primitive ponds may have provided a suitable environment for creating Earth’s first life forms, more so than oceans.

The findings published in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems showed shallow water bodies could have held high concentrations of what many scientists believe to be a key ingredient for jump-starting life on Earth: nitrogen.

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Scientists believe there could have been enough lightning crackling through the early atmosphere to produce an abundance of nitrogenous oxides to fuel the origin of life in the ocean. Pixabay

“Our overall message is, if you think the origin of life required fixed nitrogen, as many people do, then it’s tough to have the origin of life happen in the ocean,” said lead author Sukrit Ranjan from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “It’s much easier to have that happen in a pond,” Ranjan said.

Nitrogenous oxides were likely deposited in water bodies, including oceans and ponds, as remnants of the breakdown of nitrogen in Earth’s atmosphere.

Atmospheric nitrogen comprises two nitrogen molecules, linked via a strong triple bond, that can only be broken by an extremely energetic event — namely, lightning.

Scientists believe there could have been enough lightning crackling through the early atmosphere to produce an abundance of nitrogenous oxides to fuel the origin of life in the ocean.

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In the ocean, ultraviolet light and dissolved iron would have made nitrogenous oxides far less available for synthesising living organisms. Pixabay

But the new study found that ultraviolet light from the Sun and dissolved iron sloughed off from primitive oceanic rocks could have destroyed a significant portion of nitrogenous oxides in the ocean, sending the compounds back into the atmosphere as nitrogen.

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In the ocean, ultraviolet light and dissolved iron would have made nitrogenous oxides far less available for synthesising living organisms.

In shallow ponds, however, life would have had a better chance to grow, mainly because ponds have much less volume over which compounds can be diluted. As a result, nitrogenous oxides would have built up to much higher concentrations, the study said. (IANS)