Magnitude 8.2 quake hits off coast of Chile, deaths reported*

chile-quake-intensitymap.jpgThe 8.2 quake shook the coast of Chile's Arica, Parinacota and Tarapaca regions. At least one aftershock over 6.0 has been felt. Tsunami evacuations were called for the coast near the epicenter and a wider warning has been issued along the west coast of South America. From the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (which posts its news in all caps):

A TSUNAMI WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR CHILE / PERU / ECUADOR / COLOMBIA / PANAMA


A TSUNAMI WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR COSTA RICA / NICARAGUA / EL SALVADOR / GUATEMALA / MEXICO / HONDURAS

If a wave were to reach Hawaii it would arrive after 3 a.m., officials said, but at this no point there has been no watch called.

The National Weather Service for our region, based in Oxnard, said any waves here would be measured in inches. No further announcement is expected on that.

News getting out: Reports are at least five people have died in the city of Iquique, near the border with Peru. The tsunami evacuations were extended to Easter Island.

11:15 p.m. update: The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cancelled all watches for Chile and nearby countries. How big was the region originally? The watches before had extended to French Polynesia and beyond to Antarctica.

Magnitude update: USGS looks to be going with 8.2, up from 8.0. If you're keeping score, 8.2 is larger than any recorded earthquake in California. But there is this to ponder: In January of 1700, a quake estimated to be a magnitude 9 giant struck along the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which lies off the coast of Northern California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. Tsunami waves hit the coast of North America and crossed the Pacific to inflict damage in Japan. The date of Jan. 26, 1700 is gleaned from Japanese records. From Canada's earthquake agency:

The undersea Cascadia thrust fault ruptured along a 1000 km length, from mid Vancouver Island to northern California in a great earthquake, producing tremendous shaking and a huge tsunami that swept across the Pacific. The Cascadia fault is the boundary between two of the Earth's tectonic plates: the smaller offshore Juan de Fuca plate that is sliding under the much larger North American plate.


The earthquake shaking collapsed houses of the Cowichan people on Vancouver Island and caused numerous landslides. The shaking was so violent that people could not stand and so prolonged that it made them sick. On the west coast of Vancouver Island, the tsunami completely destroyed the winter village of the Pachena Bay people with no survivors. These events are recorded in the oral traditions of the First Nations people on Vancouver Island. The tsunami swept across the Pacific also causing destruction along the Pacific coast of Japan. It is the accurate descriptions of the tsunami and the accurate time keeping by the Japanese that allows us to confidently know the size and exact time of this great earthquake.

The earthquake also left unmistakeable signatures in the geological record as the outer coastal regions subsided and drowned coastal marshlands and forests that were subsequently covered with younger sediments. The recognition of definitive signatures in the geological record tells us the January 26, 1700 event was not a unique event, but has repeated many times at irregular intervals of hundreds of years. Geological evidence indicates that 13 great earthquakes have occurred in the last 6000 years.

Canada calls it The M9 Cascadia Megathrust Earthquake of January 26, 1700

Almost 70 years later, a gaggle of Europeans and Sonora Indians came upon some tar pools full of bones midway between the coast and a trickling river, and being the height of summer probably thought to themselves, "OK, but it's a dry heat." The Portola expedition reported back about feeling scary earthquakes in this new land they called Alta California.

Journalists' guide to reporting on earthquakes
LA Observed earthquake news, science and resources


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