Effects of Huge Earthquakes on Earth Rotation and the length of Day

  • Author(s): Changyi Xu, Wenke Sun, and Xin Zhou
  • DOI: 10.3319/TAO.2013.01.16.02(TibXS)
  • Keywords: Earth rotation, Earthquake, Polar motion, Change in length of day

We calculated the co-seismic Earth rotation changes for several typical great earthquakes since 1960 based on Dahlen¡¦s analytical expression of Earth inertia moment change, the excitation functions of polar motion and, variation in the length of a day (ΔLOD). Then, we derived a mathematical relation between polar motion and earthquake parameters, to prove that the amplitude of polar motion is independent of longitude. Because the analytical expression of Dahlen's theory is useful to theoretically estimate rotation changes by earthquakes having different seismic parameters, we show results for polar motion and ΔLOD for various types of earthquakes in a comprehensive manner. The modeled results show that the seismic effect on the Earth's rotation decreases gradually with increased latitude if other parameters are unchanged. The Earth's rotational change is symmetrical for a 45° dip angle and the maximum changes appear at the equator and poles. Earthquakes at a medium dip angle and low latitudes produce large rotation changes. As an example, we calculate the polar motion and ΔLOD caused by the 2011 Tohoku-Oki Earthquake using two different fault models. Results show that a fine slip fault model is useful to compute co-seismic Earth rotation change. The obtained results indicate Dahlen's method gives good approximations for computation of co-seismic rotation changes, but there are some differences if one considers detailed fault slip distributions. Finally we analyze and discuss the co-seismic Earth rotation change signal using GRACE data, showing that such a signal is hard to be detected at present, but it might be detected under some conditions. Numerical results of this study will serve as a good indicator to check if satellite observations such as GRACE can detect a seismic rotation change when a great earthquake occur.

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