Monday, 15 January 2018

Magnitude 7.1 Earthquake off the coast of Arequipa Province, Peru, leaves two dead.

The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 7.1 Earthquake at a depth of 36.3 km, roughly 40 km offshore of the city of Acari in Arequipa Province, Peru, slightly before 4.20 am local time (slightly before 9.20 am GMT) on Sunday 14 January. This event was felt across much of southern Peru, as well as parts of northern Chile. Two people are reported to have died as a result of this event, one of whom has been described as a 55-year-old man who died in a rock-fall triggered by the Earthquake in the Yauca District of CaravelĂ­ Province; no details of the second fatality have been released at this time. The Earthquake is also reported to have destroyed 63 homes across the region, injuring 65 people and making about 130 homeless.

Damaged homes following a Magnitude 7.1 Earthquake off the coast of southern Peru on 14 January 2017. Reuters.

Peru is on the west coast of South America and the western margin of the South American Plate, close to where the Nazca Plate, which underlies part of the east Pacific, is being subducted along the Peru-Chile Trench. The Nazca Plate passes under the South American Plate as it sinks into the Earth, this is not a smooth process and the plates repeatedly stick together then break apart as the pressure builds up, causing Earthquakes. As the Nazca Plate sinks further it is partially melted by the friction and the heat of the Earth's interior. Some of this melted material then rises through the overlying South American Plate, fuelling the volcanoes of Peru and neighbouring countries.

  The subduction of the Nazca Plate beneath the South American Plate, and how it causes Earthquakes and volcanoes. Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center.

Witness accounts of Earthquakes can help geologists to understand these events, and the structures that cause them. The international non-profit organisation Earthquake Report is interested in hearing from people who may have felt this event; if you felt this quake then you can report it to Earthquake Report here.

The approximate location of the 14 January 2017 Arequipa Earthquake. USGS.

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