Frost quakes: the science behind them

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14 Jan 2024 6:10 PM

Frost quakes? Sounds like a basis of a bad sci-fi movie. Cryoseism is highly localized rumblings caused by the fast onset of cold air!

This Arctic Outbreak is bringing a couple of different headaches, including SNOW IN THE SOUTHEAST but another symptom of the brutal cold could be some frost quakes.

Basically, the groundwater beneath the surface freezes due to the incursion of cold air rushing in. That ice will expand in size, putting pressure on the soil above it. When that soil inevitably shifts around, that is what you're feeling.

What do you need to occur to open the possibility of frost quakes?

  • Temperatures to plummet close to zero

  • Little to no snowfall on the ground

Don't worry, these are often weak in intensity, and highly localized to areas on the surface. In fact, they can go unnoticed by the USGS! Don't be surprised if some places around the Midwest report some shaking and loud noises in the next few days.

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