The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 6.7 Earthquake at a depth of 65.7 km, roughly 6 km off the coast of the town of Baláo in Guayas Province, Ecuador, slightly after 12.10 pm local time (slightly after 5.10 pm GMT) on Saturday 18 March 2023. The event was felt across much of western Ecuador, and as well as parts of northern Peru, and caused the collapse of numerous buildings, as well as a pier in the coastal city of Machala, as well as at least twelve fatalities in Ecuador and one in Peru.
A car crushed by falling debris following a Magnitude 6.7 Earthquake in Ecuador on 18 March 2023. Xavier Caivinagua/AP.
Ecuador 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 melted by the heat of the Earth's interior. Some of this melted material then rises through the overlying South American Plate, fueling the volcanoes of Ecuador and neighbouring countries.
The subduction of the Nazca Plate beneath the South American Plate, and how it causes Earthquakes and volcanoes. SIO SEARCH.