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Australia moving up in the world… should we worry?

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SYDNEY: Australia, which rides on the world’s fastest-moving continental tectonic plate, is heading north so quickly that map co-ordinates are now out by as much as 1.5 meters (4.9 feet), say geoscientists.

“There are tweets coming out saying: ‘Hey does that mean my neighbors pool is in my property now?’ Clearly not!” said Dan Jaksa, Australian Datum Manager at Geoscience Australia, a government body.

“What it means is the co-ordinate of that pool relative to the rest of the world has certainly changed by 1.5 meters,” he said.

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Australia’s continental tectonic plate is moving north at a rate of seven centimeters per year (almost 3 inches a year), Jaksa said, and mapping systems haven’t kept pace.

Maps, and the navigation systems which rely on them, are based on Australia’s position in 1994.

Scientists will slightly over-correct Australia's longitude and latitude to account for movements of about 7 centimetres north per year. The measurements will be precise in 2020. Picture via DailyMail

Scientists will slightly over-correct Australia’s longitude and latitude to account for movements of about 7 centimetres north per year. The measurements will be precise in 2020. Picture via DailyMail

Earthquakes, which are caused by a build up of tension between tectonic plates, change the structure of landmasses and the sea floor and can shift continents in moments.

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Jaksa and fellow scientists are now recalibrating Australia’s place on the earth’s surface.

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For the past 22 years, Australia was headed to a different location.

Their new calculation, called the Geocentric Datum of Australia, will be released in 2017 and plots the continent’s position down to the millimeter.

 

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