Sunday 17 November 2013

Magnitude 5.5 Earthquake in Mendoza Province, western Argentina.

The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 5.5 Earthquake at a depth of 19.3 km in Mendoza Province, eastern Argentina, slightly before 3.20 am local time (slightly before 6.20 am GMT) on Friday 15 November 2013. This was a large quake, and potentially quite dangerous, however it occurred in the arid and sparsely populated northeast of the province, and there are no reports of any damage or casualties.

The approximate location of the 15 November 2013 Mendoza Province Earthquake. Google Maps.

Mendoza Province is located on the eastern margin of the Andes Mountains, one of the most tectonically active mountain ranges in the world, and the plains to the east of these mountains. The Andes are being formed as the Nazca Plate to the west is subducted beneath the South American Plate. This causes quakes in a number of ways. Firstly there is friction between the two plates as the Nazca Plate passes under South America. Then there is crumpling and upthrust of the South American as it is pushed from the west by the Nazca Plate and from the east by the expansion of the Atlantic. Finally there is volcanic activity in the Andes, as lighter minerals in the Nazca Plate are melted by the heat of the Earth's interior, then rise up through the overlying South American Plate to form volcanoes.

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