Earthquake in Chile | November 14, 2007
A magnitude 7.7 earthquake occurred in Chile on the morning of Wed. Nov 14th, an initial tsunami warning was issued but later canceled. Early reports are of moderate damage in the form of cracked windows and streets, with some weaker buildings more severely damaged. This earthquake was less likely than some other 7.7 magnitude earthquakes to cause major damage because it was located almost 60 km below the surface of the Earth, this means that the seismic waves generated by this earthquake would have lost some of their energy before impacting people on the surface. Chile lies above a very active subduction zone and historically has been prone to large earthquakes including the 1960 magnitude 8.6 earthquake which created a massive tsunami. This tsunami was measured as tall as 25 meters locally and devastated the Hawaiian islands 14.8 hours after the earthquake with wave of 10.7 meters at Hilo, HI. No large tsunami was generated by the Nov. 14th 2007 earthquake because it was located under the continent rather than the coastline or ocean bed. The Nov. 14th 2007 earthquake was also much deeper than the 1960 tsunami which occurred in the shallow crust just off the coast, shallow earthquakes under the ocean result in the displacement of the ocean floor and the creation of tsunami waves.
Earthquakes in South Carolina are unlikely to cause major tsunamis because most of them occur inland and do not displace ocean floor. Additionally, unlike Chile (or Sumatra), we are not located on a convergent boundary where two plates are coming together, tsunami generating earthquakes are mainly associated with these plate boundaries. Damage in South Carolina from a magnitude 7.7 earthquake would also be much greater than that currently being reported for Chile due to the shallow location of the faults around Charleston.
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Updated: August 11, 2008
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