Earthquakes can create gold from water.
Earthquakes might be making gold deposits underground according to a study from scientists at the University of Queensland in Australia, and the Australian National University in Canberra.
Fault lines in the Earth’s crust are where earthquakes are most prevalent.
There is mineral rich water in the cracks of the faults that evaporates instantly when it is exposed during an earthquake.
Researchers think when this rapid evaporation occurs, minerals in the water including gold, are instantly formed and deposited onto the surrounding surfaces around 6 miles below the Earth’s surface.
Dion Weatherley, a geophysicist at the University of Queensland, and lead author the study said: "Given that small-magnitude earthquakes are exceptionally frequent in fault systems, this process may be the primary driver for the formation of economic gold deposits.”
The scientists think that it takes about 100 thousand years for a fault line to create enough gold to be worth undertaking a mining operation.
Another scientist, Taka’aki Taira, a seismologist from the University of California in Berkeley thinks that the new research could be used to help predict the likelihood and intensity of aftershocks.
Taira said: “…we do not yet incorporate fluid-pressure variations into estimates of aftershock probabilities. Integrating this could improve earthquake forecasting.”