Antarctica: As seismic as other plates



Antarctica shakes, rattles, and rolls just as much as other slow-moving plates. Emile Okal, a Yale University seismologist, told colleagues at the AGU Fall Meeting that although the Antarctic plate is not moving across the earth as fast as other continents, it has a seismicity similar to other plates. His findings refute the claim that a ring of spreading ridges that surrounds the plate leaves Antarctica stress free.

The small number of reports of plate seismicity, Okal explained, has been used to argue that the ridges that surround the plate are unable to transmit tectonic stresses and would make the Antarctic plate motionless and free of seismic stress. However, when Okal added up the total seismic energy released during the last 55 years, he found it similar to that of the African plate, which is comparable in size.