Earthquakes could get worse in 2018 due to Earth's slowing rotation


Every so often, Earth's rotation slows down or speeds up by a few microseconds. While the changes don't affect us directly, some scientists think recent slowdowns could be a sign of big earthquakes to come. 

In a new study, researchers looked at every earthquake since 1900 that registered a magnitude of 7 or larger and saw an uptick in the number of big quakes about every 32 years. They also noticed an unusual pattern: Earth's rotation would slow about five years before every cluster of earthquakes.

The scientists can't explain for sure how the slower rotations led to more severe earthquakes yet. They suggest the small changes between Earth's crust and liquid core might be the culprit.

SEE MORE: Swarms Of Earthquakes In Yellowstone Are Nothing To Worry About

But considering Earth's most recent slowing period started more than four years ago, researchers say 2018 is ripe for severe earthquakes.

It's unclear just how many more there'll be, but one of the study's authors told The Guardian, "We could easily have 20 a year starting in 2018." That's more than three times the number of significant magnitude 7 or higher earthquakes so far in 2017.

More on deadly earthquakes:

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Life after Mexico's devastating earthquake
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Life after Mexico's devastating earthquake
Justina Escamilla, 88, poses for a photo as she holds her wedding dress inside her destroyed house after an earthquake in San Juan Pilcaya, at the epicenter zone, Mexico, September 25, 2017. Justina returned to the interior of her house to retrieve her dress during the earthquake. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Sabino Sosa, 89, who was injured after being crushed by debris during the earthquake, rests on his bed in San Juan Pilcaya, at the epicenter zone, Mexico, September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Debris is pictured on the floor of a house after an earthquake in San Juan Pilcaya, at the epicenter zone, Mexico, September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
A man carries shovels after an earthquake in San Juan Pilcaya, at the epicenter zone, Mexico, September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Misael Sosa, 43, poses for a photo inside her house destroyed by an earthquake in San Juan Pilcaya, at the epicenter zone, Mexico, September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
A street pictured after an earthquake in San Juan Pilcaya, at the epicenter zone, Mexico, September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Luis Reyes, 73, poses for a photo as part of hir house collapsed after an earthquake in Axochiapan, at the epicenter zone, Mexico September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Ricarda Herrera, 60, poses for a photo at the ruins of her house after an earthquake in San Juan Pilcaya, at the epicenter zone, Mexico, September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Justina Escamilla, 88, reacts outside her house which was destroyed by an earthquake in San Juan Pilcaya, at the epicenter zone, Mexico, September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Eduarda Espana, 93, sits on a sofa and next to bags of basic supplies, after part of her house collapsed in an earthquake, in Axochiapan, Mexico September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
A soldier and a resident clear rubble from a destroyed house after an earthquake in San Juan Pilcaya, at the epicenter zone, Mexico, September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
A woman walks past a sign in Axochiapan, at the epicenter zone, Mexico, September 25, 2017. The sign reads: "Thank you volunteers, your help will multiply in blessings". REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Eduardo Hernandez (C), 25, holds a box as he arrives at his house after an earthquake in San Juan Pilcaya, at the epicenter zone, Mexico, September 25, 2017. Eduardo, whose family is originally from San Juan Pilcaya and migrated to Los Angeles, U.S. before he was born, collected aid from other migrants and brought them back to donate to victims of the earthquake. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Antonia Vergara, 75, poses for a photo at the ruins of her house after an earthquake in Axochiapan, at the epicenter zone, Mexico, September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Maximina Najera, 35, looks on next to her portraits inside a makeshift shelter under a plastic roof after an earthquake in San Juan Pilcaya, at the epicenter zone, Mexico, September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Soldiers clean the rubble on a destroyed house after an earthquake in San Juan Pilcaya, at the epicenter zone, Mexico, September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Gregorio Cardoso, 63, poses for a photo inside the ruins of his house after an earthquake in San Juan Pilcaya, at the epicenter zone, Mexico, September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Artemia Gutierrez, 60, poses for a photo inside her house destroyed by an earthquake in San Juan Pilcaya, at the epicenter zone, Mexico, September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
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