Earth Keeps Pulsating Every 26 Seconds. No One Knows Why.

Why is Earth pulsating every 26 seconds, and why can’t scientists explain it after 60 years? This is an enigma wrapped in a periodically predictable mystery motion. It could be a harmonic phenomenon, a regular seismic chirp caused by the sun’s energy, or a beacon drawing scientists to its source to begin a treasure hunt.


In the early 1960s, a geologist named Jack Oliver first documented the pulse, also known as a "microseism," according to Discover. Oliver, who worked at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory at the time, heard the noise, but didn't have the advanced instruments seismologists have now at his disposal.


Since then, scientists have spent a lot of time listening to the pulse and even finding out where it comes from: “a part of the Gulf of Guinea called the Bight of Bonny,” Discover says.


Some researchers think the pulse has a kind of prosaic cause. Under the world’s oceans, the continental shelf acts as a gigantic wave break—it’s the boundary off the very far edge of, for example, the North American continental mass where the highest part of the plate finally falls off into the deep abyssal plain. Scientists have theorized that as waves hit this specific place on the continental shelf in the Gulf of Guinea, this regular pulse is produced.


If that sounds improbable, consider all the different shapes of drums, from timpani to bass drums to bongos that you hit with your hands. It’s not impossible that just one shape of continental shelf “drum” would create the right harmonic bang to rattle the Earth. If that’s true, we’re probably lucky it’s just one.

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