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Thread: 8.8-magnitude earthquake hits central Chile

  1. #46
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    8.8 is gigantic.

    It's really hard coming so soon after Haiti.

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    Chile was ready for quake, Haiti wasn't

    Chile was ready for quake, Haiti wasn't - Americas AP - MiamiHerald.com

    The earthquake in Chile was far stronger than the one that struck Haiti last month - yet the death toll in this Caribbean nation is magnitudes higher.

    The reasons are simple.

    Chile is wealthier and infinitely better prepared, with strict building codes, robust emergency response and a long history of handling seismic catastrophes. No living Haitian had experienced a quake at home when the Jan. 12 disaster crumbled their poorly constructed buildings.

    And Chile was relatively lucky this time.

    Saturday's quake was centered offshore an estimated 21 miles (34 kilometers) underground in a relatively unpopulated area while Haiti's tectonic mayhem struck closer to the surface - about 8 miles (13 kilometers) - and right on the edge of Port-au-Prince, factors that increased its destructiveness.

    "Earthquakes don't kill - they don't create damage - if there's nothing to damage," said Eric Calais, a Purdue University geophysicist studying the Haiti quake.

    The U.S. Geological Survey says eight Haitian cities and towns - including this capital of 3 million - suffered "violent" to "extreme" shaking in last month's 7-magnitude quake, which Haiti's government estimates killed some 220,000 people. Chile's death toll was in the hundreds.

    By contrast, no Chilean urban area suffered more than "severe" shaking - the third most serious level - Saturday in its 8.8-magnitude disaster, by USGS measure. The quake was centered 200 miles (325 kms) away from Chile's capital and largest city, Santiago.

    In terms of energy released at the epicenter, the Chilean quake was 501 times stronger. But energy dissipates rather quickly as distances grow from epicenters - and the ground beneath Port-au-Prince is less stable by comparison and "shakes like jelly," says University of Miami geologist Tim Dixon.

    Survivors of Haiti's quake described abject panic - much of it well-founded as buildings imploded around them. Many Haitians grabbed cement pillars only to watch them crumble in their hands. Haitians were not schooled in how to react - by sheltering under tables and door frames, and away from glass windows.

    Chileans, on the other hand, have homes and offices built to ride out quakes, their steel skeletons designed to sway with seismic waves rather than resist them.

    "When you look at the architecture in Chile you see buildings that have damage, but not the complete pancaking that you've got in Haiti," said Cameron Sinclair, executive director of Architecture for Humanity, a 10-year-old nonprofit that has helped people in 36 countries rebuild after disasters.

    Sinclair said he has architect colleagues in Chile who have built thousands of low-income housing structures to be earthquake resistant.

    In Haiti, by contrast, there is no building code.

    Patrick Midy, a leading Haitian architect, said he knew of only three earthquake-resistant buildings in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country.

    Sinclair's San Francisco-based organization received 400 requests for help the day after the Haiti quake but he said it had yet to receive a single request for help for Chile.

    "On a per-capita basis, Chile has more world-renowned seismologists and earthquake engineers than anywhere else," said Brian E. Tucker, president of GeoHazards International, a nonprofit organization based in Palo Alto, California.

    Their advice is heeded by the government in Latin America's wealthiest nation, getting built not just into architects' blueprints and building codes but also into government contingency planning.

    "The fact that the president (Michelle Bachelet) was out giving minute-to-minute reports a few hours after the quake in the middle of the night gives you an indication of their disaster response," said Sinclair.

    Most Haitians didn't know whether their president, Rene Preval, was alive or dead for at least a day after the quake. The National Palace and his residence - like most government buildings - had collapsed.

    Haiti's TV, cell phone networks and radio stations were knocked off the air by the seismic jolt.

    Col. Hugo Rodriguez, commander of the Chilean aviation unit attached to the U.N. peacekeeping force in Haiti, waited anxiously Saturday with his troops for word from loved ones at home.

    He said he knew his family was OK and expressed confidence that Chile would ride out the disaster.

    "We are organized and prepared to deal with a crisis, particularly a natural disaster," Rodriguez said. "Chile is a country where there are a lot of natural disasters."

    Calais, the geologist, noted that frequent seismic activity is as common to Chile as it is to the rest of the Andean ridge. Chile experienced the strongest earthquake on record in 1960, and Saturday's quake was the nation's third of over magnitude-8.7.

    "It's quite likely that every person there has felt a major earthquake in their lifetime," he said, "whereas the last one to hit Port-au-Prince was 250 years ago."

    "So who remembers?"

    On Port-au-Prince's streets Saturday, many people had not heard of Chile's quake. More than half a million are homeless, most still lack electricity and are preoccupied about trying to get enough to eat.

    Fanfan Bozot, a 32-year-old reggae singer having lunch with a friend, could only shake his head at his government's reliance on international relief to distribute food and water.

    "Chile has a responsible government," he said, waving his hand in disgust. "Our government is incompetent."

  3. #48
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    Why Haiti's quake toll higher than Chile's

    By Colin Stark, Special to CNN
    February 28, 2010 -- Updated 2123 GMT (0523 HKT)


    Sherider Anilus, 28, and her daughter, 9-month-old Monica, sit on the spot where her home collapsed during last month's earthquake in the Fort National neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.



    STORY HIGHLIGHTS
    • Chile's quake released 500 times more energy than Haiti's, says Colin Stark
    • Earthquake's magnitude is related to movement of plates on earth's surface, Stark says
    • Quake damage partly due to level of poverty, quality of building techniques, he says

    Editor's note: Colin Stark, Doherty Research Scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, is a geophysicist and geomorphologist whose research is focused on the effects of typhoons and earthquakes on the triggering of landslides and the erosion of mountain rivers.
    Palisades, New York (CNN) -- About six weeks ago, a large earthquake devastated Haiti and killed over 200,000 people. Saturday, a huge earthquake releasing 500 times more energy, devastated Chile and killed hundreds.
    So why did the smaller earthquake kill so many more people? And why the sudden spate of disastrous earthquakes in the Americas?
    No, the apocalypse is not coming. No, the two earthquakes are not linked in any way. And no, Pat Robertson, you can't blame the Devil or the French. The real answers, for those comfortable with science and the Enlightenment, are tectonics and poverty.
    Of the many revolutions of the 1960s, the one that really mattered to geologists was the revolution of plate tectonics. Tectonics is the word geologists use to describe the process by which mountains move and rocks squeeze and crunch.
    In the sixties, new data from research cruises and from earthquake seismometers led to the realization that tectonics makes mountains slide sideways long distances. Earth scientists discovered that the Earth has a patchy skin of mobile plates a hundred miles thick and thousands of miles across, and that they move horizontally at a slow but irresistible pace. It's where they collide that our problems begin.
    South America is a prime example of this process, one that geologists call "subduction." It's why we have the long chain of mountains called the Andes and it's why countries like Chile and Peru suffer giant, destructive earthquakes every few decades.
    Off the coast of Chile is a tectonic plate called the Nazca Plate. Unseen by most, it has been inching its way towards the South American continent, and sliding underneath it, for well over a hundred million years. Since the day that Magellan first rounded Tierra del Fuego it has encroached by 130 feet in a roughly east-north-east direction.
    The Nazca plate doesn't slide under the South American plate in an orderly fashion though. It moves in fits and starts, sometimes sticking and sometimes slipping, sometimes here and sometimes there. Along the coast of Chile, patches can get stuck for over a hundred years. When they do finally slip, they go with a bang. All that squeezing energy is released in seconds and an earthquake happens.
    On Saturday a patch roughly the size of Maryland came unstuck, unleashing one of the most powerful tremors ever recorded. Fifty years ago, a patch four times bigger and with an area of about 50,000 square miles, the size of Louisiana, slipped and triggered the Valdivia earthquake. Its magnitude has been estimated as at least 9.5, making it the largest earthquake of modern times.
    Over millions of years, this tectonic squeezing has formed the Andes and raised the high desert known as the Altiplano. Elsewhere it has created the Alps, the Rockies, the Himalayas, and Tibet. It has also created and distorted some of the islands of the Caribbean, including Haiti.
    So that's why some parts of the world suffer from big earthquakes that strike with irregular frequency, while other regions are seismically quiet: it all depends on where the plates meet and how fast they are running into each other.
    Knowing this helps us assess seismic risk and mitigate it. It helps us know where the strongest earthquake shaking will hit and roughly how often. Predicting when the shaking will hit is a much greater challenge, and geophysicists are working hard to reach that goal. In any case, prediction is not the real problem: poverty is.
    Poverty is what ultimately kills most people during an earthquake. Poverty means that little or no evaluation is made of seismic risk in constructing buildings and no zoning takes place. It means that building codes are not written, and even if they do exist they are difficult, or impossible, to enforce. It means the choice between building robustly or building cheaply is not a choice at all.
    Haiti is a tragic illustration of this. Weak building materials and poor construction standards share much of the blame for the grotesque numbers of fatalities, injured and internally displaced people.
    Of course it's complicated. Earthquake shaking is a complex process and the chain of causation from earthquake source magnitude through infrastructural damage to human harm involves factors like the type of earthquake fault, its orientation, the hardness of bedrock or presence of wet soil, and so on. A lot also depends on the time of day the earthquake strikes in terms of how many people are inside buildings that could collapse. Population density, distance from the epicenter, and the depth of the rupture are the most important factors of all.
    Nevertheless, those countries most at risk of seismic tragedy are not simply those on tectonic plate boundaries, but also those with the least money to spend on protecting themselves.
    The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Colin Stark.


    Why Haiti's quake toll higher than Chile's - CNN.com
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

  4. #49
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    its so hard to fathom 200,000 people losing their lives in such a short period of time so sad. whole generations of families gone i'm sure, just like that

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    Chile Earthquake May Have Shortened Days on Earth
    The massive 8.8 earthquake that struck Chile may have changed the entire Earth's rotation and shortened the length of days on our planet, a NASA scientist said Monday.

    The quake, the seventh strongest earthquake in recorded history, hit Chile Saturday and should have shortened the length of an Earth day by 1.26 milliseconds, according to research scientist Richard Gross at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

    "Perhaps more impressive is how much the quake shifted Earth's axis," NASA officials said in a Monday update.

    The computer model used by Gross and his colleagues to determine the effects of the Chile earthquake effect also found that it should have moved Earth's figure axis by about 3 inches (8 cm or 27 milliarcseconds).

    The Earth's figure axis is not the same as its north-south axis, which it spins around once every day at a speed of about 1,000 mph (1,604 kph).

    The figure axis is the axis around which the Earth's mass is balanced. It is offset from the Earth's north-south axis by about 33 feet (10 meters).

    Strong earthquakes have altered Earth's days and its axis in the past. The 9.1 Sumatran earthquake in 2004, which set off a deadly tsunami, should have shortened Earth's days by 6.8 microseconds and shifted its axis by about 2.76 inches (7 cm, or 2.32 milliarcseconds).

    One Earth day is about 24 hours long. Over the course of a year, the length of a day normally changes gradually by one millisecond. It increases in the winter, when the Earth rotates more slowly, and decreases in the summer, Gross has said in the past.

    The Chile earthquake was much smaller than the Sumatran temblor, but its effects on the Earth are larger because of its location. Its epicenter was located in the Earth's mid-latitudes rather than near the equator like the Sumatran event.

    The fault responsible for the 2010 Chile quake also slices through Earth at a steeper angle than the Sumatran quake's fault, NASA scientists said.

    "This makes the Chile fault more effective in moving Earth's mass vertically and hence more effective in shifting Earth's figure axis," NASA officials said.

    Gross said his findings are based on early data available on the Chile earthquake. As more information about its characteristics are revealed, his prediction of its effects will likely change.

    The Chile earthquake has killed more than 700 people and caused widespread devastation in the South American country.

    Several major telescopes in Chile's Atacama Desert have escaped damage, according to the European Southern Observatory managing them.

    A salt-measuring NASA satellite instrument destined to be installed on an Argentinean satellite was also undamaged in the earthquake, JPL officials said.

    The Aquarius instrument was in the city of Bariloche, Argentina, where it is being installed in the Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas (SAC-D) satellite. The satellite integration facility is about 365 miles (588 km) from the Chile quake's epicenter.

    The Aquarius instrument is designed to provide monthly global maps of the ocean's salt concentration in order to track current circulation and its role in climate change.
    Chile Earthquake May Have Shortened Days on Earth

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    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    That site always has the best and most comprehensive photo collections-better than the ones at CNN and MSNBC.

    That must have been one hell of a tsunami. *shudder*

    Hawaii really lucked out.

    Has anyone taken any pics of the Juan Fernandez Islands? I know they got hit bad, but I have yet to see any pics from there.
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    Default Haiti family survives 2 big quakes in 2 months as Chile proves no refuge

    Haiti family survives 2 big quakes in 2 months as Chile proves no refuge from chaos back home - baltimoresun.com
    NICOLE WINFIELD
    Associated Press Writer
    1:20 PM EST, March 4, 2010

    Baltimore Sun breaking news, sports, weather and traffic in Baltimore -- baltimoresun.com

    SAN BERNARDO, Chile (AP) — The Desarmes family left their native Haiti two weeks after the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake, joining the eldest son in Chile for what seemed a refuge from the fear and chaos of Port-au-Prince.

    Their sense of security lasted barely a month. It was shattered at 3:43 a.m. Saturday when one of the most powerful quakes on record shook a swath of Chile.

    All the Desarmes' immediate family survived both quakes. But twice cursed, the family now sleeps in the garden of a home that the eldest son, Pierre Desarmes, found for them just south of the Chilean capital of Santiago. They fear yet another temblor will strike.

    "I left my country and came here because of an earthquake," Seraphin Philomene, a 21-year-old student and cousin of Desarmes, said Wednesday. "And here, the same thing!"

    "My God, I left my country and I didn't die, but I'm going to die here!"

    Pierre Desarmes, 34, managed to get his family out of Haiti thanks to personal contacts at the Chilean Embassy in Port-au-Prince and the Chilean armed forces. Nine members of his family — his parents, two brothers and their families, and three cousins — arrived in Santiago on a Chilean air force plane Jan. 23.

    Desarmes, the lead singer of a popular Haitian reggaeton band in Chile, still gets choked up when he recalls seeing his family for the first time stepping off the plane.

    "I saw them but I didn't believe it. I said, 'My God, they're here.' It was a very difficult moment," he said, speaking in French in the garden of the house the family now calls home.

    "Each time I think about it, I get sad, because I realize I was able to do this because I was here. But there are so many people who are there and I don't know what's going to happen to them."

    His relatives had to leave Haiti with only hours' notice, receiving instructions on where to go via cell phone text messages from a relative in the United States who was in contact with Desarmes in Santiago. Philomene didn't even have time to pack, dashing to the Chilean Embassy when she received word the family had been cleared to fly out.

    Saturday's earthquake has made a difficult transition even more traumatic.

    "When the aftershocks come, they refuse to stay in the house," Desarmes said, sipping a Coke at a table in the garden, his relatives sitting nearby.

    "I have to talk to them all day long telling them: 'There are no problems, it's a country that's prepared for earthquakes, it'll pass, it's not so bad.' But they don't hear me. Psychologically for them, they're still really affected by it."

    Desarmes' brother, Stanley Desarmes, 32, is deeply unsettled. The father of a 2-year-old girl, Nelia, who plays in the yard, he worries for his family's safety and is thinking about uprooting them again to move somewhere with less danger of earthquakes.

    "I don't know what I can do, but staying isn't possible," he said. "I could die and I could lose my family. I have to leave. I don't know where, I don't know how. But I don't want to die with my family here."

    Philomene, his cousin, plans to stay, hoping to bring the rest of her family to Chile. She was the only member of her immediate family to get out because she was living with the Desarmes in the Haitian capital to finish her studies. Her mother, father, two sisters and a brother are still in Cap-Haitien, a town in northern Haiti about 90 miles from the capital.

    "I've had no news from them," she said, choking up.

    Reached late Wednesday by The Associated Press in Cap-Haitien, Philomene's father, Luigene Philomene, was elated at the news that his daughter was safe. He said he hadn't heard from her since before Chile's earthquake and had been trying to reach relatives in Port-au-Prince for an update.

    The elder Philomene said when he heard that his daughter had been in the Chile earthquake he thought of a Haitian saying that loosely translates as "we saved her from the river and she ended up in the sea." Now he feels she has divine protection and the 43-year-old said he would eagerly join his daughter in South America if he could.

    "God is looking for out for us," he said. "Our family didn't die in Haiti so they aren't going to die in Chile either."

    Francius Pierre, a cousin of Seraphin's in Port-au-Prince, had already learned from a brother that his relatives in Chile survived. Pierre, a university student who injured his knee in the Haitian quake, said Seraphin and his other relatives moved from Haiti for safety.

    "If they knew something like this could happen again they never would have gone," he said.

    Associated Press Writer Ben Fox in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, contributed to this report.
    Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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    Never a dull moment in Chile:

    Powerful earthquake strikes off the coast of Chile - CNN.com

    (CNN) -- "An 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northern Chile on Tuesday, generating a tsunami, authorities said.

    The U.S. Geological Survey reported the quake, which hit at at 6:46 p.m. local time, was centered some 60 miles northwest of Iquique at a depth of 12.5 miles.
    It had previously put the magnitude at 8.0 and the depth at 6.2 miles.
    Chile's National Emergency Office tweeted Tuesday night that it was asking everyone to evacuate the South American nation's coast.
    CNN Chile broadcast video of people in Antofagasta, a port city, walking through the streets as traffic piled up in some places. They appeared to be calm.
    A tsunami warning was in effect for Chile, Peru and Ecuador.
    A tsunami watch was issued for Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
    "Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated. It may have been destructive along coasts near the epicenter and could also be a threat to more distant coasts," the center said in its evaluation.
    Tsunami waves of more than 6 feet generated by the earthquake had already washed ashore on the coast of Pisagua, Chile, according to Victor Sardino with the center.
    The center said nearly 7-foot waves were reported in Iquique, Chile.
    There were no immediate reports of injuries, although an 8.2-magnitude earthquake is capable of causing tremendous damage.
    Chile is on the so-called "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines circling the Pacific Basic that is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
    About 500 people were killed when a 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile on February 27, 2010. That quake triggered a tsunami that toppled buildings, particularly in the Maule region along the coast.
    According to researchers, the earthquake was violent enough to move the Chilean city of Concepcion at least 10 feet to the west and Santiago about 11 inches to the west-southwest.
    The tsunami threat to Hawaii still was being evaluated Tuesday. The U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center was working to determine the level of danger for Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California, as well as Canada's British Columbia."
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    This is officially getting scary. Wasn't there an event in California a few days ago AND a tremor at Yellowstone?
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    Holy shit. I down in Orange County CA and we had that 5.5 the other day, it's the third one I've been in here in two months.
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    ^^Still haven't felt any of the ones that are hitting here in OC/LA.

    The Chilean quake showed on the seismographs here in SoCal. That's how strong it was.

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    They've had a couple of quakes off Cuba in recent weeks and were felt in key west. So I'm told.
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