Ethereum is currently undergoing a chain-split after a planned upgrade was called off at the very last minute.
“We were not able to get in contact with every single mining entity about the postponement of the upgrade,” Michael Hahn of MyCrypto says before adding:
“Compare the hashrate on the non-constantinople chain to what the combined chain was pre-fork. Doing this you can see ~10-20TH/s is what is actually missing from the non-constantinople (correct) chain.”
Meaning that more than 10% of miners are on Constantinople, that being twice the amount of current miners on ETC.
An estimated quarter of a million has been lost by these miners as they are about 1,000 blocks behind. Cons-chain difficulty, however, is going down.
In ethereum, difficulty changes by the block. With the Constantinople-chain having far less hashrate, blocks are found more slowly, but every time a new block is found, the chain gets closer to “normality.”
With it now being some hours that the cons-chain is running, it is unclear whether this is just an accidental split on the part of some miners or whether they’re intentionally keeping the chain going.
Why they would be doing the latter is not very clear as one can’t easily see a market for Cons, but it may be that some miners think they’d get more eth per block in the minority chain rather than in the majority chain as the difficulty bomb has kicked in.
It is far more likely, however, that they just don’t know there has been a change. Some miners are in China, some in Argentina, some are across the globe.
Information tends to spread within about a week between major languages. For smaller countries/languages, two or three weeks is more probable.
It may thus be just smaller non-english speaking miners in non-major languages, like say Italy, who just don’t yet know there has been any change.
Whether this is now an emergency situation isn’t very clear, but we would urge great caution if you are transacting at this time because it isn’t very clear whether transactions can be replayed.
You may also accidentally be on the minor chain. That happened to a protocol dev, Afri Schoedon of Parity, who said: “After telling the entire world to upgrade, of course my very own node gets stuck on the wrong fork.”
This situation should now resolve within a few hours, so unless you must transact, we’d suggest just waiting for 36 hours or so to see how the picture settles.