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Melting glaciers causing earthquakes in Alaska

Date: 24 March 2021 Tags: Geography & Environment


Research has indicated that the glacier loss could be causing earthquakes of magnitude 5 or more since the last century.



Alaska is located on a fragile location, where there are impending chances of earthquakes caused due to tectonic activity.



  • Melting glaciers and shifting tectonic plates could be causing the rise in earthquakes in the region.

  • The ground below the big glacier springs up like a spongy mattress after pressure in form of glacier is removed, which causes tectonic plates to change positions and triggers earthquakes.

  • Earthquake after the glacial melt is common in regions such as Canada and Scandinavia. The pattern was however difficult to detect in Alaska.

  • This is because Alaska is located at the boundary between North American tectonic plate and the pacific plate, where there are frequent earthquakes.

  • The melting of glacial ice was also causing the land in Alaskan region to rise by about 1.5 inches per year.

  • Melting ice is not directly linked with earthquakes in the region but it can control the timing and severity.



An earthquake is a shaking event of the surface of the Earth that results from a sudden release of energy in the Earth's lithosphere that forms seismic waves.



A glacier is a large body of dense ice that is continuously moving due to its own weight. A glacier forms where the availability of snow exceeds its melting over many years.

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