Sunday, September 25, 2016

Whither Australia?

Wither Australia literally. The Down Under continent is one of the world's fastest-moving tectonic plates, which means every year it's about 2.7 inches farther north than it was the year before. And it rotated a little bit clockwise.

Slow compared to most movement -- although still faster than John Kerry's clueward motion -- that level of shifting is enough to make global positioning coordinates inaccurate in just a few years. The Times story at the link notes that the Australian agency concerned with such matters has adjusted the national latitude and longitude four times in the last 50 years -- and about 20 years ago it shifted things 656 feet.

This year's change will be a relative twitch by comparison at just under five feet. Those kinds of changes are needed by engineering and mining concerns which use GPS coordinates to site wells, drills, experiments and the like.

The nearest land to Australia is Papua New Guinea, but at this rate of movement it will be a just under two million years before the Cape York Peninsula crosses the Torres Strait. We don't have to worry in the US, since the Aussies aren't headed in our direction and the different tectonic plates don't move that way. Even if they were coming right at us, it would take them the better part of 200 million years to get here. They might bring Secretary Kerry's clue with them.

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