Snow melt may trigger earthquakes
Heki, K., Science, 293, 89-92, 2001.
Heki, K., Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 207, 159-164, 2003.
Large portion of the seasonal signatures in GPS site coordinate
time series in Japan can be explained by snow loads along the Japan
Sea side of the backbone range of the arc. Snow loads decrease Coulomb
failure stress by "clamping" faults (i.e. increasing compression normal
to the fault plane). Spring thaw thus may trigger inland earthquakes,
which is consistent with the tendency in historical disasterous earthquakes
in Japan that they occur more in spring and summer (right panel is the
article in Asahi Newspaper). Snow plays a role of "keystone" that
keeps the underground catfish from moving (left panel).