An interesting factoid relating to the devastating earthquake in Chile this weekend. A NASA scientist surmises that the quake probably shifted the Earth’s axis and shortened the day. As this piece in Business Week goes on to explain:
Earthquakes can involve shifting hundreds of kilometers of rock by several meters, changing the distribution of mass on the planet. This affects the Earth’s rotation, said Richard Gross, a geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who uses a computer model to calculate the effects.
“The length of the day should have gotten shorter by 1.26 microseconds (millionths of a second)... The axis about which the Earth’s mass is balanced should have moved by 2.7 milliarcseconds (about 8 centimeters or 3 inches)."