Would climate change result in an increase in seismic activities?

I can see two potential forces acting:

  • Temperature dilation of the Earth's surface.
  • A change in the distribution of water mass, fewer glaciers, stronger precipitation.

Is any of this possible?


2 Answers 2


Dilation of the Earth's surface due to atmospheric temperature changes will be negligible due to the amount of temperature increase.

Stronger precipitation will not directly lead to an increase in seismic activity. The force of the raindrops will be too small, even over a prolonged periods of time. If stronger precipitation were to occur, the most likely result will be an increase in soil erosion and landslides.

The reduction in glacial mass and the increase in water depth will change ground surface stresses. Where there will be an increase in the depth of water there will an increase in the overburden pressure produced by the water. This may cause an increase in localized seismic activity in some areas.

The loss of glacial mass will lead to post-glacial rebound in affected areas, predominantly: Antarctica, Greenland, Canada, Alaska. As the affected areas adjust to the lack, or reduction, of overbearing (overburden) pressure previously supplied by the glacial ice there will be an increase in seismic activity in those regions.


Water can perhaps change the timing of second order seismic activity, although it's not expected to change the amplitude. Activities like fracking and putting water into stress faults have a greater demonstrable effect.

The glass-rubber transition temperature of the rocks is above 1000'C, so the rock itself won't undergo a major change in behavior and rocks accumulate stresses at the same rate due to internal convection of the mantle, and so the seismic activity timing can be a bit different, but it's amplitude won't be noticeably higher, and no studies have radically proven an effect of water on seismic activity amplitudes.


About 47 TeraWAtts of energy arrives at the surface from the mantle, and 173,000 TeraWatts comes from the sun.

enter image description here above image from https://www.mpg.de/6348886/W005_Environment-climate_070-077.pdf

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Your question has taught me that Aristotle stated earthquakes can be due to air being released from underground caves.


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