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article imageEarthquake displaced Chilean city 3 meters west

By Igor I. Solar     Mar 8, 2010 in World
Scientist’s GPS measurements concluded that citizens of Concepción, Chile, and other locations in Chile and Argentina now live a bit farther west.
Preliminary results based on measurements taken within a joint scientific program headed by professor of earth sciences Michael Bevis of Ohio State University show that Concepción, the largest Chilean city closest to the epicenter of the massive earthquake that struck Chile’s west coast on February 27th, moved about 3 meters (more than 10 feet) towards the west.
Other cities in South America, some of them far from the epicenter, also shifted position significantly. Valparaíso moved 28 centimeters, and Santiago, Chile’s capital city, moved about 24 cm. Other cities, Mendoza and Buenos Aires, in neighboring Argentina, also moved west about 3 centimeters. The study base the conclusion on the cities’ movements by comparing precise GPS (Global Positioning System) measurements determined prior to the quake with those calculated 10 days after the quake.
Dr. Bevis is currently conducting field work in Chile. The research team has been working since 1993 on the study of earth crust motion and deformation in the Central and Southern Andes. Working with Bevis as a co-principal investigator on the project is Ben Brooks, with the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawaii. Collaborators include scientists from the University of Memphis, the California Institute of Technology, the Universidad de Concepción, the Centro de Estudios Científicos of Chile, and the Military Geographical Institute of Chile. Also partners in the study are researchers from the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo in Mendoza, the Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires and the Military Geographical Institute of Argentina.
The 8.8 magnitude quake occurred where the Nazca tectonic plate was squeezed under the adjacent South American plate. These periodic earth crust adjustments relieve geological pressures in these convergence zones. The earthquake with epicenter in the Maule Region of Chile is deemed one of the five strongest quakes in recorded history. Over 200 aftershocks, some of them as strong as 6 Richter, have occurred following the major quake.
Maps showing the relative movement of locations in South America are shown in a preliminary report published at: http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/chilequakemap.htm.
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