A massive 8.3 magnitude earthquake rocked Chile today, and the country was struck by 5 powerful aftershocks. After the massive quakes the government issued a tsunami warning and urged citizens to evacuate the coast lines. The first quake struck at 7:54 PM local time, and was initially estimated at 7.9 on the Richter scale.
So far only one casualty has been confirmed. The death was the result of a wall collapse. At least 15 other people were also injured. The quake was felt in Buenos Aires, which is located nearly 1,500 kilometers away on the opposite side of South America.
Tsunami warnings have been issued, and it is believed that strong waves could hit not only Chile, but also Ecuador and Peru. The waves that could hit Chile could reach 9 meters in height, but are expected to reach only one meter in Peru and Ecuador.
The epicenter was located 232 kilometers north-northwest of Chile’s capital Santiago. It is believed that the epicenter was located at a depth of about 33 kilometers. The quake is the strongest reported quake in Chile since an 8.8 quake struck off the coast in 2010. An 8.2 quake was also recorded offshore one April 1st, 2014.
Chile is located in the so-called “Ring of Fire” that circles the Pacific ocean. The Ring of Fire corresponds with the plate boundaries found in the Pacific Ocean. Roughly 90 percent of all recorded earthquakes occur along these boundaries. Most of the world’s volcanoes are also found along the plate boundaries, hence the name “Ring of Fire.”
The Andes Mountains that cut through Chile and much of the rest of South America run in parallel to the “Peru-Chile trench.” The trench is a result of the Nazca continental plate subducting beneath the South American plate. Often,the subduction process is slow and relatively smooth, but occasionally the plates get caught on one another. When this happens, pressure builds up until one of the plates gives, resulting in an earthquake.