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The Earth just Shook like a Bell for 20 minutes, and No one knows why

Seismic sensors on an island between Madagascar and Africa were the first to notice the event. Then, alarm bells started going off as far away as Chile, New Zealand, and Canada.

The “event,” which happened on November 11, 2018, for about 20 minutes, was also seen in Hawaii, which is almost exactly on the other side of the world. What it was is a mystery. Meteorite? A volcano in the ocean? A nuclear explosion?

A seismologist at Columbia University named Goran Ekstrom told National Geographic, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it.” “That doesn’t mean that the cause of them is so strange in the end.”

At the center of the puzzle is the small island of Mayotte, which is about halfway between Africa and Madagascar. Since May, there have been a lot of earthquakes there. Most of them have been small, but the one on May 8 was the biggest ever recorded on the island. It measured 5.8 on the Richter scale.

But the number of earthquakes was going down when the strange ringing was found in early November. Ekstrom, an expert on unusual earthquakes, says that many things about the one on November 11, 2018 were strange. As the planet grew, it seemed like it was ringing like a bell, making a low, steady sound.

By definition, an earthquake sounds like a short, sharp “crack.” When stresses in the Earth’s crust suddenly let go, bursts of clear seismic waves spread out from where the slippage happened.

The first signal is called a “primary wave,” and it is made up of clusters of high-frequency compression waves that spread out. Then there’s the Secondary wave, which moves more and has a higher frequency.

The surface waves come next. They are slow, deep rumbles that may circle the Earth more than once. The event of November 11 is notable because there were no major or secondary waves. Deep surface waves were the only thing that could be heard. And it didn’t shake like the surface wave of an earthquake. Instead, it kept a much clearer frequency that was almost melodic.

The French Geological Survey thinks that a new volcano is forming off the coast of Mayotte, says National Geographic. Volcanic activity made the island, but it hasn’t been active for about 4,000 years.

The French think that the strange sound was caused by the movement of magma 30 miles off the coast and deep underground. The island of Mayotte has moved 2 inches to the southeast in less than five months, according to GPS sensors. But there aren’t many maps of that area. No one can know for sure what’s under the sea.

Ekstrom thinks that the very clear signal came from magma moving around in a chamber or pushing through a crack in the rocks below.

He’s not sure, though.


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