Unexpectedly rapid melting of polar ice and glaciers between 2005 and 2011 caused a rise in global sea levels of another 2/3rds of an inch, according to a study just published in Nature Geoscience. Increased water pressure against continental shelves is known to lead to destabilization of faults as well as compression of magma deposits under volcanoes, and is related to increased seismic and volcanic activity. So far, sea levels have now risen 8 1/3rd inches worldwide since 1870, with the rate of annual increase steadily rising. At the same time, the amount of volcanic and earthquake activity around the Pacific Rim appears to have begun to increase as well. As ice melts, the balance of weight on the earth changes, releasing weight from melt areas and moving it into the oceans. This in turn puts pressure on the continental shelves. "It’s not just the volcanoes," Dr. Bill McGuire of the University College London’s Hazard Research Center told Live Science, "Obviously if you load and unload active faults, then you’re liable to trigger earthquakes." In recent months, arctic melt has been happening so quickly that it has sent cold water down into the northern oceans, causing unstable weather across the whole northern hemisphere. Additionally. volcanic activity around the Pacific Rim appears to be rising. However, there is no immediate evidence of a short-term connection, largely because there are no studies measuring these changes.

A study reported in Nature in 1997 concluded that rapid sea rise in the Mediterranean basis had led to a 300% increase in volcanic and seismic activity in the region. One of the great volcanic events of history, the explosion of the Island of Santorini that wrecked the thriving Cretan and Mycenean civilizations in the eastern Mediterranean, was probably due to this sea rise. In addition, as sea levels rose at the end of the last ice age, earthquake and volcanic activity followed, unleashing, for example, a tsunami that resulted from the Cascadia megaquake near Seattle may have been due to this effect. Such an event today would take 10,000 lives and cause upwards of 34 billion dollars worth of damage in the Seattle-Vancouver area.

At present, numerous volcanoes around the world, and especially around the Pacific Rim, are becoming active. Additionally, there has been an increase in earthquake swarms and unusual seismic activity worldwide. Most notably, an 8.0 quake beneath the Sea of Oshkosh rattled windows in Moscow 4,000 miles away, an unprecedented event. This is the equivalent of a quake in San Francisco being felt in New York. As the epicenter was in one of the most isolated regions on Earth, no damage was reported. It is the first quake to be felt in Moscow in a hundred years.

The image shows Mt. Cleveland in Alaska erupting in May of 2013, one of numerous cones that have recently become active.

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