Could something on Earth be so heavy that it causes the planet to move?

Mudassir Ali
Feb 03, 2020 12:20 PM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Feb 03, 2020 12:20 PM

One good example is the construction of the Three Gorges Dam in China. Although the material of the dam itself has less effect, once full, it held back 39 billion tons of water from the Yangtze River to a surface height of 175 meters above sea level (or an average height of roughly 90 metres above sea level). This change in position for such a heavy mass of water would have caused the planet to move roughly 0.6 Angstroms (6×10−11m) slightly away from the raised mass of water behind the dam, over the period during which the lake filled.

As a result of increasing the average radius of the earth the dam also increased the length of the earth’s day by some 0.06 microseconds. However, the effect of the tides caused by the moon on the earth’s speed of rotation, is to reduce the length of the earth’s day by 20 microseconds per year. So the Three Gorges Dam had a very small one off impact by comparison.

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