Thursday 7 June 2012

Earthquake in eastern Chile.

On Thursday 7 June 2012, at approximately five minutes past noon, local time (4.05 pm, GMT), an Earthquake hit the east of the Maule Region of Chile, close to the border with Argentina. The United States Geological Survey recorded the quake as occurring 102 km southeast of the city of Talca, at a depth of 7 km, and as measuring 5.8 on the Richter Scale. There are no reports of any injuries or damage at this time, but with a quake this large and this shallow there is still a distinct possibility that casualties may yet be discovered. 

Map showing the location of the quake, and the areas that suffered the strongest shaking (consecutive circles). USGS.

Chile is located on the west coast of South America, above the subduction zone where the Nazca Plate is being subducted beneath the South American Plate. As the two plates pass over one-another they generate friction; this is not a smooth process, the plates stick together then break apart as the pressure builds up causing Earthquakes. As the Nazca Plate sinks deeper under Chile, it is partially melted by a combination of the friction and the heat of the Earth's interior. Some of the melted material then rises through the overlying South American Plate as magma, fueling the volcanoes of the Andes Mountains.

Diagramatic representation of the passage of the Nazca Plate beneath Chile. MIT.

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