The newly discovered phenomenon is called a “stormquake” and is caused by strong storms over the ocean wreaking havoc on continental crusts. Experts from Florida State University analysed more than a decade’s worth of seismic and oceanic records from 2006 and discovered the connection between storms and earthquakes. The researchers discovered more than 10,000 of these stormquakes, the strongest of which was an earthquake which measured 3.5 on the Richter scale, offshore of New England, Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico in the United States, and some offshore of the east of Canada.
Study lead author Wenyuan Fan, an assistant professor of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science, and colleagues found that during hurricane season, storms can produce strong waves which interact with the ocean floor around continental crusts, causing tremors, some of which can last for days of steady rumbling.
One example of a stormquake came in 2009 when Hurricane Bill swept across the Atlantic Ocean.
The hurricane triggered seismic events off the coats of New England and Nova Scotia.
Mr Fan said: “We’re calling them ‘stormquakes’.
“This involves coupling of the atmosphere-ocean and solid earth. During a storm season, hurricanes or nor’easters transfer energy into the ocean as strong ocean waves, and the waves interact with the solid earth producing intense seismic source activity.
“We can have seismic sources in the ocean just like earthquakes within the crust.
“We have lots of unknowns. We weren’t even aware of the existence of the natural phenomenon.
“It really highlights the richness of the seismic wave field and suggests we are reaching a new level of understanding of seismic waves.”
Scientists have previously found a link between the climate and earthquakes, mainly climate change and the melting ice caps.
A team of researchers from the Leibniz Universität in Hannover investigated a major fault zone running across Denmark over the course of 2.5 million years ago to 12,000 years ago – at the end of the last Ice Age.
The team found that as ice melted, it effected the sediment deep beneath the surface which essentially reactivated the fault line, according to the research led by Dr Christian Brandes.
The scientific journal Scientia read: “The 115-kilometre-long Osning Thrust underwent a series of faulting movements over a 140-million-year period ending about 60 million years ago.
“The team has shown that movements along this fault also occurred very recently. Modelling these structures has enabled Dr Brandes and his colleagues to demonstrate that the Osning Thrust was reactivated at the end of the last glaciation, around 12,000 years ago.
“This fault reactivation was accompanied by earthquakes, which the team identified from the soft-sediment deformation structures that developed in this area.
“Their findings also imply that an earthquake, which took place in this region during the autumn of 1612, might have been triggered due to stress changes in the Earth’s crust caused by a melting ice-sheet.”