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Study: Antarctica not free of earthquakes

Jan. 13, 2012 at 8:09 PM

BEIJING, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- The widely held notion that Antarctica has no earthquakes is wrong, say Chinese scientists whose seismic station on the continent has recorded numerous tremors.

"China's newly built seismic observatory in Great Wall Station has documented a hundred-odd earthquakes occurring in the region over the past year," Chang Lijun, a member of China's 28th Antarctic expedition team, told China's officials Xinhua news agency Thursday.

The belief the frozen continent does not experience earthquakes is likely due to their going undetected because of a lack of seismological observation in the region, researchers said, and the fact that most are minor.

Last year's earthquakes ranged in magnitude from 0.5 to 4, which are usually not felt by humans, Chang said.

Geologists have long been intrigued by the tectonic movements of Antarctica, which sits atop two plates that pulled away from each other between 28 million and 40 million years ago but later converged.

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