Big Tides Could Trigger More Powerful Earthquakes, New Study Says

High surf is shown in this file photo. (Credit: KTLA)

High surf is shown in this file photo. (Credit: KTLA)

Big tides could help push small earthquakes to grow into very large temblors, a new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience said Monday.

In a review of the world’s largest temblors, a team of Japanese scientists found that powerful earthquakes tend to occur during periods of strong tides, such as during the full moon and new moon, when the difference between high tide and low tide is greatest.

The idea that tides can affect earthquakes is not new. It makes sense; as oceans bulge a certain way when the sun, Earth and moon are all lined up, such as during the full moon and new moon, tidal forces can add more strain on earthquake faults.

But this study is the first to show a statistical connection that there are more powerful earthquakes than small earthquakes during periods of strong tides, said Satoshi Ide, professor of seismology at the Univeristy of Tokyo and the lead author of the study.

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