Location of the epicenter of the magnitude 8.8 earthquake that struck February 27, 2010.
Courtesy of USGS
Massive Earthquake Shakes Chile
News story originally written on February 27, 2010
Early Saturday morning, February 27, 2010, a very strong earthquake shook Chile and western South America. The earthquake, a magnitude 8.8, struck off the coast of Chile (see map at left) about 35 km (22 mi) underground.
This earthquake was strong enough to break buildings and bridges into rubble. About one and a half million people have lost their homes in coastal Chile because of this earthquake.
The earthquake happened as Earth's tectonic plates moved. In this area, two plates are moving towards each other. Each year, they move about 8 cm closer. Where does the extra rock go? One plate is sliding below the other, a process called subduction.
Many earthquakes happen in Chile as the tectonic plates move. Thirteen large earthquakes have shaken the area since 1973. Because it is prone to earthquakes, buildings are built to be very sturdy. So, even though this earthquake was stronger than the one that struck Haiti a month ago, the total destruction is likely to be much less.
The earthquake created tsunami waves in the Pacific Ocean. Along the coast of Chile the wave was over two meters (almost eight feet) high and strong enough to toss boats into houses. The tsunami wave crossed the Pacific Ocean. It was over one meter high (4 feet) when it got to Japan and about two meters (6 and a half feet) high on Tonga and New Zealand.
Last modified March 1, 2010 by Lisa Gardiner.
You might also be interested in:
The ground underfoot might seem like it's not going anywhere but it is. It moves. If it moves all of a sudden the ground shakes. That's an earthquake! Earthquakes happen as pieces of the Earth's crust...more
Many forces change the surface of the Earth over time. The largest force that changes our planet's surface is movement of Earth's outer layer in a process called plate tectonics. As shown in this picture,...more
Plates at our planet’s surface move because heat in the Earth’s core causes molten rock in the mantle layer to flow. We used to think the Earth’s plates just surfed on top of the moving mantle, but now...more
When two sections of the Earth's crust collide, one slab of lithosphere can be forced back down into the deeper regions of the Earth, as shown in this picture. The slab that is forced back into the Earth...more
Several severe thunderstorms hit the U.S. over the weekend. This caused lots of trouble in the Midwestern and Southern states. Fourteen tornadoes hit Arkansas on Saturday, March 1, 1997. 24 people were...more
Several severe thunderstorms hit the U.S. over the weekend. This has caused a lot of trouble for the Midwestern and Southern states. Storms on Saturday, March 1, have killed at least 21 in Kentucky, Mississippi,...more
Twelve tornadoes hit Tennessee early Saturday morning. At least 44 people were hurt. Two people were killed when six more tornadoes touched down in Kentucky. Both states had bad electrical, auto, and...more