Earthquake rocks Chile

Fewer than two months after Haiti was rocked by a 7.0 earthquake, the nation of Chile was struck by an 8.8 magnitude quake. This second quake added even more devastation to the western world.

The earthquake, which has been determined to be the fifth-strongest quake since 1900 according to the United States Geological Survey’s Earthquake Hazards Program, struck off the coast of central Chile Feb. 27, at 3:34 a.m. local time. In a Feb. 28 address, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet stated that the death toll had risen to 708 fatalities.

Other nations in the world were also affected by the earthquake. President Bachelet estimated that 2 million people worldwide have been effected. Other Pacific countries in South America, such as Peru, Colombia and Ecuador were put on tsunami alert. A total of 53 countries were also put on tidal wave alert. Some of the other areas on alert included Panama, Costa Rica, Antarctica and Hawaii, according to The Guardian, a British newspaper.

Although the earthquake in Chile was considerably larger than the earthquake in Haiti, it was not nearly as damaging. This is attributed to the earthquake’s great depth of 21.7 miles, whereas the earthquake in Haiti had a depth of 8.1 miles, causing a greater damage, according to CNN.Interestingly, the great force of the earthquake in Chile may have shifted the earth on its axis by three inches. This shift will make days on the earth a little over a millisecond shorter than they were before, according to Richard Gross, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

In the aftermath of the quake, many major humanitarian organizations have been preparing to lend assistance.

More natural disasters will come, according to geologist Brian Atwater of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Univ. of Washington. Atwater says that the Pacific Northwest “has a long geological history of doing exactly what happened in Chile. It’s not a matter of if but when the next one will happen,” Atwater stated.

Chris Goldfinger, the head of the Active Tectonics and Seafloor Mapping Laboratory at Oregon State University, stated that there is an 80 percent chance that the southern end of the fault off southern Oregon and Northern California will break in the next 50 years. When the hotspot awakens, it has the potential to unleash a 9-magnitude earthquake on the Pacific coast of North America.

The Mainstream is a student publication of Umpqua Community College.