Science Questions

Can gravitational waves cause earthquakes?

Mon, 24th Jun 2013

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Question

Ricardo Hernandez asked:

Could potentiallysome of earthquakes on earth be produced by gravitational waves?

 

 

 

 

 

Answer

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I don't know, but I would think it very unlikely.  I suspect that if gravity waves were able to cause earthquakes they would have been detected by now.  There are sensitive instruments out there looking for them. We can detect even small Earth movements, so it seems to make sense that if the causes were external, we should be able to detect them as well. Bill S, Sat, 4th May 2013

Every day the Earth is stretched and squeezed as the Sun and Moon pass overhead.
Over the course of a month, the effects of the Sun & Moon add, and then almost cancel.
Both of these effects are easily detectable and measurable (even by just looking at tide heights).
This squeezing and stretching might encourage earthquakes to release their energy slightly earlier than if this extra tension did not exist.

It would take a "nearby" neutron star merger to create stronger gravitational waves than this daily tidal cycle - and a nearby neutron star merger would be very unpleasant for a wide range of other reasons beyond earthquakes!
evan_au, Sun, 5th May 2013

The Institute for Geophysics at The University of Texas, Austin "THE" University of Texas Original, listens at locations all over the world for ever bit of noise made by the earth and puts each in their place scientifically.  No earthquakes have ever been attributable to gravitation waves. JimBob, Fri, 10th May 2013

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