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From islands popping out of the ocean during earthquakes to glaciers calving icebergs every hour, the Earth can undergo dramatic changes right before your eyes.
These seven rapid geological transformations have fascinated scientists and struck fear in the hearts of everyone else for ages.
A new coastSlide 2 of 15
A new coast
Earthquakes not only rattle the Earth, but they radically change the landscape. The Chilean earthquake that struck on Feb. 27 changed the country's landscape by raising the ground by more than 8 feet (2.5 meters) near the coast and sinking land farther inward, a recent study found.
The massive quake caused marine platforms to rise out of the ocean, thereby shifting the coastline in some places 1,640 feet (500 m) closer to the ocean. [See images of Chile's raised coast.]Slide 3 of 15
Ice conveyor beltSlide 4 of 15
Ice conveyor belt
Glaciers huge rivers of ice formed when snow and ice accumulate over hundreds and thousands of years act like a big conveyor belt that pushes ice into the sea. These icy rivers move slowly over time, some eventually dumping ice chunks into the sea, a process known as calving a leading source of additional water for the world's oceans.
Some kinds of glaciers, however, calve as often as once an hour. These kinds of glaciers are called "grounded," meaning they rest on the ocean floor; others float on top of the ocean waters as they run into the sea. Scientists recently observed Alaska's Columbia Glacier undergoing a transition from grounded to floating, which dramatically slowed its calving. [See scientists studying the glacier.]Slide 5 of 15
Volcano collapseSlide 6 of 15
Massive volcanic eruptions unleash ash and pumice into the sky and can be heard thousands of miles away and even seen from space . But volcanoes can change the landscape in the blink of an eye in a way other than blowing off their tops by triggering huge landslides.
Thousands of years ago, a large collapse of the edifice of the Soufriere Hills volcano on the island of Montserrat in the Lesser Antilles sent landslides into the ocean. Some of these landslides involved nearly 1.2 cubic miles (5 cubic kilometers) of material that travelled underwater for miles.
Volcanic dome collapses occur when dome-shaped lava mounds on top of a volcano break apart due to a gas pressure build-up. Soufriere Hills' eruptions have produced some of the largest volcanic dome collapses ever recorded.Slide 7 of 15
LandslidesSlide 8 of 15