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Antarctica not free of earthquakes: Chinese seismic expert

(Xinhua)

14:23, January 06, 2012

BEIJING, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- Surveillance data on the size and frequency of earthquakes in Antarctica collected by China's Great Wall Station show that the continent is not earthquake-free, a Chinese seismic expert said Thursday.

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

The discovery challenges the prevailing notion that the Antarctic has no earthquakes, as many earthquakes have gone undetected due to lack of seismological observation in the region.

However, thanks to technological advances, scientists have discovered that the continent is still subject to some minor tremors.

Chang, also an associate researcher at China Earthquake Administration's Geophysics Institute, said last year's earthquakes ranged in magnitude from 0.5 to 4, scales which are usually undetectable to common people.

The tectonic movements of Antarctica, which sits on two plates that pulled away from each other in the northern Ross Sea between 28 and 40 million years ago, but later converged, fascinate geologists worldwide.

At the end of 2010, Chinese scientists set up a new broadband seismic observatory in Great Wall Station, greatly increasing China's ability to measure tremors and tectonic movements on the continent.

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