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Weather Affects Seismic and Volcanic Activity (On Occasion)

Weather Affects Seismic and Volcanic Activity (On Occasion)

Caltech’s Thomas Ader indicates that seasonal weather patterns can play a role in seismic and volcanic activity. He presented findings of his studies on December 8, 2011 this year’s American Geophysicist Union conference in San Francisco. Below are a few highlights gleaned from a Science News article, which covered his talk (e.g. Powell and Witze 2011).

In the Himalayas, monsoon water weight dampens seismicity for a few months

  • Earthquake instances drop during the rainy summer months
  • Earthquake activity rebounds as the dry out after the summer

REASON: the water’s weight bends the Earth’s crust slightly,

  • Which may slightly ease stress on faults
  • Which might incubate earthquakes over the next few months
  • As the land dries and rebounds, the number of earthquakes increase towards winter

Iceland experiences a summer increase in earthquakes

  • Ice caps atop volcanoes melt during summer
  • Weight decreases, altering stress inside mountain


  • Increase in volcanic and earthquake activity during summer
  • Most recent eruptions: 1918, 1955, 1999, and possibly 2011
  • All recent eruptions occurred between May and November
  • Katla experiences more summer earthquakes in summer than winter

NOTE: Most seismic and volcanic is not weather-related, according to the article.

To read entire Science News article about the presentation, click on the reference’s hyperlink below:


Powell, Devin and Alexandra Witze

2011   Weather Affects Timing of Some Natural Hazards. Science News (published online on December 12, 2011 or earlier: December 31, 2011 issue: 180[14]:8). Electronic document,, accessed December 17, 2011.


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Weather Affects Seismic and Volcanic Activity (On Occasion) by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License


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