Learning about Earthquakes

Last night there was a huge earthquake in the North of Chile in Iquique.  We were planning on going to Iquique in March or this month, but luckily our plans changed.  We are currently in Valdivia in the South of Chile.  We weren’t affected by the earthquake in the North.  Coming from South Africa (where there are no big earthquakes) being in a country like Chile, where earthquakes are a daily danger, is very surreal for me.


Beautiful picture from valdiviaciudaduniversitaria.cl/

The earthquake last night measured 8.2 on the Richter scale.  Six people died and thousands (some websites say a million) of people had to evacuate their homes due to a tsunami threat.  The earthquake started fires and knocked out power.  300 Female inmates escaped from a prison.  Chile’s current president, Michelle Bachelet had to deal with the large earthquake that hit Chile in 2010, days before her first term of presidency ended.  A lot of people died in 2010 in a tsunami, after surviving the magnitude 8.8 earthquake.  I’m sure the President is feeling a lot of pressure to handle the current situation better than it was handled in 2010.

The earthquake last night is the second earthquake in Iquique in the past month.  Chile is an earthquake-prone country because of the Nazca tectonic plate that plunges beneath the South American plate.  It pushes the Andes mountain range upwards.  The pressure along this fault line is the greatest in far northern Chile, an area known as the “Iquique seismic gap”.  This gap hasn’t had an earthquake in the last 140 years.  Seismologists are expecting a much larger earthquake than the one from last night, but they are unable to predict when it will take place.

For pictures of the aftermath, you can look here.




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