Chilean Earthquake Triggers Smaller Than Expected Tsunami

Mar 01, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- While a huge earthquake off the coast of Chile triggered a tsunami that moved at the speed of a jet aircraft across the Pacific Ocean Feb. 27, the event was smaller scientists expected, said a University of Colorado at Boulder earthquake expert.

CU-Boulder geological sciences Professor Anne Sheehan said the magnitude 8.8 earthquake offshore of central Chile released more than 400 times the energy of the recent Haiti earthquake. "It was truly an enormous earthquake in terms of energy release, the largest in the world since the 2004 Sumatra earthquake and the fifth largest since 1900," said Sheehan.

Some experts forecasted the Chilean earthquake would produce 9-foot tall slamming places like Hawaii, Guam and American Samoa, eventually reaching as far as Australia, New Zealand and Japan, said Sheehan, also a fellow at the CU-Boulder's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. Fortunately, the event produced smaller than expected waves as it rolled across the Pacific, she said.

Chile is along the "Ring of Fire" that stretches north from South America to the Aleutian Islands, then south through Japan, Indonesia and to New Zealand, said Sheehan. The of the Chilean was extremely long -- several hundred miles -- signaling the potential for further large earthquakes in the region.

"These large earthquakes in the have the potential to cause tsunamis all over the Pacific Rim," she said. "Fortunately, people have a much greater understanding of the phenomenon today. Before 2004, a lot of people didn't even know what a was," she said.

Sheehan said she believes that lessons learned by Chilean experts following a world-recording setting magnitude 9.5 quake there in 1960, and subsequent quakes in the next several decades, resulted in stricter building codes, saving many lives. "The death toll is expected to be far smaller than in Haiti, an example showing that mitigation efforts really can be effective."

Explore further: Better forecasts for sea ice under climate change

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Chile quake in 'elite class' like 2004 Asian quake

Feb 28, 2010

(AP) -- The huge earthquake that struck off the coast of Chile belongs to an "elite class" of mega earthquakes, experts said, and is similar to the 2004 Indian Ocean temblor that triggered deadly tsunami ...

Chile quake occurred in zone of 'increased stress'

Mar 01, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The massive, 8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Chile Feb. 27 occurred in an offshore zone that was under increased stress caused by a 1960 quake of magnitude 9.5, according to geologist ...

Fewer earthquake fatalities in 2005

Jan 14, 2006

There were fewer deaths worldwide in 2005 due to earthquakes, but almost 90,000 casualties were reported, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

Recommended for you

Better forecasts for sea ice under climate change

5 hours ago

University of Adelaide-led research will help pinpoint the impact of waves on sea ice, which is vulnerable to climate change, particularly in the Arctic where it is rapidly retreating.

"Ferrari of space' yields best map of ocean currents

13 hours ago

A satellite dubbed the "Ferrari of space" has yielded the most accurate model of ocean circulation yet, boosting understanding of the seas and a key impact of global warming, scientists said Tuesday.

Researcher studies deformation of tectonic plates

16 hours ago

Sean Bemis put his hands together side by side to demonstrate two plates of the earth's crust with a smooth boundary running between them. But that boundary is not always smooth and those plates do not always ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.