The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 5.1 Earthquake at a depth of 32.7 km, 39 km to the northeast of the city of La Ligua in the Chilean province of Petorca slightly before 2.45 am local time (slightly before 6.45 am GMT) on Saturday 19 May 2018. There are no reports of any damage or injuries associated with this event, but people have reported feeling the event across much of central Chile, and parts of western Argentina.
The approximate location of the 19 May 2018 Petorca Earthquake. USGS.
Chile is located on the west coast of South America, which is also the convergent margin between the Nazca and South American Plates. The Nazca Plate is being subducted beneath the South American Plate and is sinking beneath the South American Plate. This is not a smooth process, the rocks of the two plates continuously stick together then, as the pressure builds up, break apart again, causing Earthquakes. As the Nazca Plate sinks deeper it is partially melted by the heat of the Earth's interior. Some of the melted material then rises up through the overlying South American Plate as magma, fuelling the volcanoes of the Chilean Andes.
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.
Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.