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September 26 2013

Mineral transformation may trigger deep earthquakes

A little more than 90 years ago, British geologist Herbert Hall Turner noticed some data that suggested something unexpected. The only way to make sense of the data was if an earthquake occurred hundreds of kilometers beneath the Earthís surface.

Since Turnerís observations, deep earthquakes have fascinated seismologists. It is still unclear why they happen, but two studies recently published in Science use different approaches yet reach the same conclusion. These quakes are probably a result of rapid changes in minerals that propagate at up to 14,000 km/hour (nearly 8700 mph).

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