Can Climate Affect Earthquakes, Or Are the Connections Shaky? - Instituto Ecológica

Can Climate Affect Earthquakes, Or Are the Connections Shaky?

The twin magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 earthquakes that struck the Ridgecrest area in California’s Mojave Desert northeast of Los Angeles on July 4 and 5, respectively, were felt by up to 30 million people in California, Nevada, Arizona and Baja California, resulting in loss of life, injuries, billions in damage and lots of frazzled nerves. While the remote location undoubtedly minimized impacts, the quakes did serve as a wake-up call for complacent Californians that they live in Earthquake Country and need to prepare for the inevitable “Big One” that scientists say is sure to come. 

We also know that most earthquakes occur far beneath Earth’s surface, well beyond the influence of surface temperatures and conditions. We also know that the statistical distribution of earthquakes is approximately equal across all types of weather conditions.

In fact, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the only correlation that’s been noted between earthquakes and weather is that large changes in atmospheric pressure caused by major storms like hurricanes have been shown to occasionally trigger what are known as “slow earthquakes,” which release energy over comparatively long periods of time and don’t result in ground shaking like traditional earthquakes do. 

But what about climate? Are there any connections between climate phenomena and earthquakes?