Wednesday 6 November 2019

Magnitude 6.1 Earthquake in Choapa Province, Chile.

The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 6.1 Earthquake at a depth of 53.0 km, roughly 28 km to the southwest of the city of Illapel in Choapa Province in central Chile, slightly before 6.55 pm local time (slightly before 9.55 pm GMT) on Monday 3 November 2019 . 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 location of the 4 November 2019 Choapa Province Earthquake. Contour lines show rates of movement during the quake, the red line is a boundary between two tectonic plates, in this case the Nazca and South American plates. 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.
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