Big earthquakes shown to happen more during full moons

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Large earthquakes have a higher chance of happening during full and new moons, finds a new study out of Japan.

The reason for the increased risk, the researchers have found, is because fault lines tend to become more strained as the tides get higher and heavier than normal when the earth, moon, and sun are aligned.

Active fault lines/zones in the United States:

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Active fault lines/zones in the United States -- earthquakes
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Active fault lines/zones in the United States -- earthquakes

The Alaska-Aleutian Megathrust is located across 3,600 kilometers between Kamchatka, Russia to the Gulf of Alaska.

(Photo by Daniel A. Leifheit via Getty Images)

The Cascadia Megathrust stretches along the coasts of Washington and Oregon up into Canada

(Photo via Encyclopaedia Britannica/UIG via Getty Images)

The Eastern Tennessee Seismic Zone runs from Alabama to Virginia and is responsible for four earthquakes in the past century. 

(Photo by Harrison Shull via Getty Images)

The Elsinore Fault Zone lies along the Santa Ana Mountains in Southern California

(Photo handout via NASA)

The Hayward Fault Zone runs along San Francisco Bay for 119 miles.

(Photo by Dave and Les Jacobs via Getty Images)

The Humboldt Fault (red) and the Midcontinent Rift System (green) are both located in Kansas and Nebraska. 

(Photo via Public Domain)

The Independence Valley fault system in Nevada was responsible for the 2008 Wells earthquake. 

(AP Photo/Mike Terry, Deseret Morning News) 

The Laguna Salada Fault runs from the US to Mexico and caused the 2010 Mexicali quake.

(Photo credit should read Daniel CONEJO/AFP/Getty Images)

The Moab Fault is located in Utah.

(By Andrew Wilson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

The New Madrid Fault Zone is located in Missouri.

(Photo via Public Domain)

The San Andreas Fault System runs along 1,300 kilometers in California. 

(REUTERS/NASA/JPL/Handout)

The Wilzetta Fault in Oklahoma is believed to have caused an earthquake in 2011. 

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

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High tides, which happen twice a day, have been linked with tremors in certain places, but this study takes a broader look by examining events of at least 5.5 in magnitude.

These include a 9.3-magnitude Sumatra quake in 2004 and a 8.8-magnitude Chilean quake from 2010.

After recording the severity of tidal stresses in the 15 days leading up to each event, the team found that the vast majority struck around the time of a full or new moon.

Photos of earthquake-devastated towns in central Italy:

31 PHOTOS
Earthquake devastates mountain towns in central Italy
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Earthquake devastates mountain towns in central Italy
PERUGIA, ITALY - AUGUST 24: Rubble surrounds damaged buildings after a strong earthquake hit San Pellegrino near Norcia on August 24, 201 in Perugia, Italy. Central Italy was struck by a powerful, 6.2-magnitude earthquake in the early hours, which has killed at least three people and devastated dozens of mountain villages. Numerous buildings had collapsed in communities close to the epicenter of the quake near the town of Norcia in the region of Umbria, witnesses told Italian media, with an increase in the death toll highly likely (Photo by Awakening/Getty Images)
PERUGIA, ITALY - AUGUST 24: Rubble surrounds damaged buildings after a strong earthquake hit San Pellegrino near Norcia on August 24, 201 in Perugia, Italy. Central Italy was struck by a powerful, 6.2-magnitude earthquake in the early hours, which has killed at least three people and devastated dozens of mountain villages. Numerous buildings had collapsed in communities close to the epicenter of the quake near the town of Norcia in the region of Umbria, witnesses told Italian media, with an increase in the death toll highly likely (Photo by Awakening/Getty Images)
Rescuers search amid rubble following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. The magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:36 a.m. (0136 GMT) and was felt across a broad swath of central Italy, including Rome where residents of the capital felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
A firefighter searches through debris of a collapsed building following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. A strong earthquake in central Italy reduced three towns to rubble as people slept early Wednesday, with reports that as many as 50 people were killed and hundreds injured as rescue crews raced to dig out survivors. (Italian Firefighters via AP)
A man walks amid rubbles after an earthquake struck in Amatrice Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. The magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:36 a.m. (0136 GMT) and was felt across a broad swath of central Italy, including Rome where residents of the capital felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks.(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
PERUGIA, ITALY - AUGUST 24: People view a damaged building after a strong earthquake hit San Pellegrino near Norcia on August 24, 201 in Perugia, Italy. Central Italy was struck by a powerful, 6.2-magnitude earthquake in the early hours, which has killed at least three people and devastated dozens of mountain villages. Numerous buildings had collapsed in communities close to the epicenter of the quake near the town of Norcia in the region of Umbria, witnesses told Italian media, with an increase in the death toll highly likely (Photo by Awakening/Getty Images)
A man is rescued alive from the ruins following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Remo Casilli TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Rescuers work following an earthquake in Accumoli di Rieti, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Scherer
A man is carried away after been rescued alive from the ruins following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
A man is carried away after having been rescued alive from the ruins following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
A man is rescued alive from the ruins following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
A man is carried away after having been rescued alive from the ruins following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
Rescuers and people walk along a road following an earthquake in Accumoli di Rieti, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Scherer
A damaged house is seen following an earthquake in Accumoli di Rieti, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Scherer
A bust is seen on the ground following an earthquake in Accumoli di Rieti, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Scherer
Rescuers work on a collapsed building following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF DEATH A body is carried away by rescuers following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
A rescuer stands in front of a collapsed building following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A partially collapsed church is seen following an earthquake in Accumoli di Rieti, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Scherer
A collapsed house is seen following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
Rescuers work in Amatrice, central Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, where a magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:36 a.m. (0136 GMT) and was felt across a broad swath of central Italy, including Rome where residents of the capital felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks. Turistic sign at right reads in Italian : "Amatrice, one of the most beautiful hamlets in Italy" . (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Rescuers search amid rubble following an earthquake in Amatrice Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. The magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:36 a.m. (0136 GMT) and was felt across a broad swath of central Italy, including Rome where residents of the capital felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Rescuers search amid rubble of collapsed houses following an earthquake in Pescara Del Tronto, Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. The magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:36 a.m. (0136 GMT) and was felt across a broad swath of central Italy, including Rome where residents of the capital felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
An injured man is rescued from a collapsed building following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. The magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:36 a.m. (0136 GMT) and was felt across a broad swath of central Italy, including Rome where residents of the capital felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)
PERUGIA, ITALY - AUGUST 24: A damaged building is seen after a strong earthquake hit Amatrice on August 24, 201 in Perugia, Italy. Central Italy was struck by a powerful, 6.2-magnitude earthquake in the early hours, which has killed at least three people and devastated dozens of mountain villages. Numerous buildings had collapsed in communities close to the epicenter of the quake near the town of Norcia in the region of Umbria, witnesses told Italian media, with an increase in the death toll highly likely (Photo by Awakening/Getty Images)
AMATRICE, Aug. 24, 2016-- Photo taken on Aug. 24, 2016 shows damaged houses after the earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy. The death toll in a strong earthquake in central Italy has risen to 38, authorities said Wednesday. The 6.0 magnitude earthquake hit the city of Rieti at 3:32 a.m. Wednesday, with a shallow depth of 4.2 km, according to the National Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. (Xinhua/Jin Yu via Getty Images)
Rescue and emergency services personnel searches for victims with a dog in the central Italian village of Amatrice, on August 24, 2016 after a powerful earthquake rocked central Italy. A powerful earthquake rattled a remote area of central Italy on August 24, 2016, leaving at least 120 people dead and scenes of carnage in mountain villages. With 368 people injured and an unknown number trapped under rubble, the figure of dead and wounded was expected to rise in the wake of the pre-dawn quake, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi warned. / AFP / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Volunteers join rescue and emergency services personnel searching for victims in the central Italian village of Amatrice, on August 24, 2016 after a powerful earthquake rocked central Italy. A powerful earthquake rattled a remote area of central Italy on August 24, 2016, leaving at least 120 people dead and scenes of carnage in mountain villages. With 368 people injured and an unknown number trapped under rubble, the figure of dead and wounded was expected to rise in the wake of the pre-dawn quake, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi warned. / AFP / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
PERUGIA, ITALY - AUGUST 24: A damaged building is seen after a strong earthquake hit Amatrice on August 24, 201 in Perugia, Italy. Central Italy was struck by a powerful, 6.2-magnitude earthquake in the early hours, which has killed at least three people and devastated dozens of mountain villages. Numerous buildings had collapsed in communities close to the epicenter of the quake near the town of Norcia in the region of Umbria, witnesses told Italian media, with an increase in the death toll highly likely (Photo by Awakening/Getty Images)
Two people hug each other next to the remains of a collapsed house following an earthquake in Pescara Del Tronto, Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. The magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:36 a.m. (0136 GMT) and was felt across a broad swath of central Italy, including Rome where residents of the capital felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
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Researchers also determined that earthquakes around 5.5 in magnitude are likely to become more severe, reaching 8 or more in scale, during these peak-intensity periods.

Nevertheless, scientists say that smaller seismic activities do not appear to be affected, and the likelihood of a catastrophic event is still relatively low.

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