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Geologists have known for years that tectonic plates affect climate patterns. Now they say that the opposite is also true, finding that intensifying climate events can move tectonic plates. Using models based on known monsoonal and plate movement patterns, geologists say that the Indian Plate has accelerated by about 20% over the past 10 million years. “The significance of this finding lies in recognising for the first time that long-term climate changes have the potential to act as a force and influence the motion of tectonic plates."
Understanding why plates change direction and speed is key to unlocking huge seismic events such as last month's Japan earthquake, which shifted the Earth's axis by several inches, or February's New Zealand quake.
The Australian-led team of researchers from France and Germany found that the strengthening Indian monsoon had accelerated movement of the Indian plate over the past 10 million years by a factor of about 20%, publishing their findings in the Earth and Planetary Science Letters journal.