Science and TechNatural Disasters


Why scientists say earthquakes feel powerful after cosmic rays strike

Researchers say they now believe they know more about why cosmic radiation hitting Earth can make our planet shake even more.
Planet Earth
Posted at 7:54 PM, Jun 23, 2023

A team of Polish researchers say they've compiled data in a new study that further clarifies why when powerful cosmic radiation slams into Earth, it appears to cause more shakes and intense earthquakes. 

The new study came together after analyzing half a century of data collected on our planet. 

They found that seismic activity worldwide appeared to align with what is known as the average variation on the intensity scale for the secondary particles that are made by cosmic radiation. 

The researchers say primary cosmic radiation particles hit atmospheric gas molecules around Earth's surface, which increases the cascades of secondary particles. 

This all leads to Earth's magnetic field, and the eddy currents in Earth's liquid core, to change the trajectory of charged primary cosmic radiation particles. 

Their time delay as they analyzed this correlation was about 14 days, the study explained. 

Piotr Homola, a coordinator with the Cosmic Ray Extremely Distributed Observatory (CREDO), said, "The idea that there is a link between earthquakes and cosmic radiation, in its primary form reaching us mainly from the sun and deep space," appears weird. 

But, Homola said, the "physical foundations are fully rational."

Homola said, "For the observed correlation, we obtained more than six sigma, which means a chance of less than one in a billion that the correlation is due to chance. We, therefore, have a very good statistical basis for claiming that we have discovered a truly existing phenomenon."

The scientists need more people to join their cosmic radiation detection efforts. They are asking people to turn their smartphones into cosmic ray detectors by installing the CREDO Detector app on the Google Play Store or on the App Store.

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In its work, the CREDO project, which was originally started in 2016, ultimately hopes to be able to better predict strong earthquakes to help save lives. 

CREDO is open to all as a virtual cosmic ray observatory which collects and analyzes data from scientist groups and other small detectors. That includes CMOS sensors in smartphones which work by installing the CREDO Detector app.

Scientists analyzing the data said they noted a connection between the intensity of secondary cosmic radiation and how much magnitude was registered when earthquakes shook the Earth.