Chile earthquake: 6 surprise effects
A shift in the Earth's axis? Pricier paper? Chile's catastrophic quake is triggering some unexpected consequences
While the authorities struggle to maintain order in quake-struck Chile, the world is coming to terms with the implications of such a powerful earthquake. Hiding behind the headlines, however, are some less-discussed and rather odd consequences of the 8.8-magnitude temblor:
1. Chileans in Concepcion now live 10ft closer to the sea
Concepcion, the nearest city to the epicenter, moved 10 feet to the west during the quake, according to GPS measurements reported by Betsy Mason in Wired. It wasn't just them, either. The capital city of Santiago moved 11 inches to the west, and even Buenos Aires, 800 miles away in Argentina, shifted an inch.
2. Our days on planet Earth will be shorter
The magnitude of the quake was so great it actually tilted the plenatary axis — as a result, the world will spin infinitesimally faster and our days will be shorter by 1.26 millionths of a second. "It's interesting," says seismologist David Kerridge in the Wall Street Journal, even if "it has no particular consequence on anything."
3. Volcanoes may become rather common
Chile's earthquake is likely to prompt a "legacy of volcanic explosions," says Kate Ravilious in the New Scientist. Large quakes have historically acted to "resurrect previously inactive volcanoes" and make "active ones" more likely to erupt.
4. Chilean wine just got more rare
Reports from Chile's wine region paint a disastrous picture of "wine casks destroyed; huge vats cracked, their wine spilling out; ruined equipment." One vintner laments that the quake is "a double whammy" — it hit right at harvest time, meaning much of this season's crop will likely rot in the fields.
5. Printer paper may get pricier
Chile is one of the world's largest wood pulp producers and most mills in the country "have been shuttered owing to damage and power outages." Consequently, global paper prices could leap to $40 a ton — a roughly 5 percent bounce — according to analyst estimate.
6. Virginians may sense a certain dryness
Water levels in a monitoring well in Christiansburg, VA dropped two feet as a result of Saturday's quake, reports the Baltimore Sun. The only explanation: The site is "well known" for its sensitivity to "seismic waves."