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Rumbles of the Earth

The recent earthquake off the coast of central Chile, which recorded an 8.8 magnitude, was no small natural disaster to say the least. Several hundred people were killed during the tremors, and millions of people in Chile became subject to a strong aftershock. Geologically speaking, this quite large earthquake resulted from converging tectonic plates (the Nazca plate going below the South American plate) moving at 80mm a year. 80mm a year might seem harmless enough, but these recent tremors demonstrated that even 80mm a year could cause a great deal of damage.

People in the area were not the only ones affected by the 8.8 magnitude earthquake: millions of others in New Zealand, Hawaii, Japan, Australia, and Indonesia received tsunami warnings. Even the Earth’s axis, according to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory researcher Richard Gross, was allegedly changed due to shifted mass (by approximately 8 cm), thus reducing the length of that day by 1.26 microseconds (millionths of a second).

The Chilean earthquake a few days ago is not the nation’s first, or largest, one. In November of 1922, an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.5 struck central Chile 870km north of the recent earthquake. In May of 1960, a record 9.5 magnitude earthquake in Chile occurred 230km south of the recent earthquake. In both cases, a large tsunami resulted from the shocks, leading to an even greater death toll than from the earthquake alone. The Red Cross has donated $250,000+ towards relief for Chile, and other organizations such as the Salvation Army and UNICEF are directing funds and volunteers to Chile. If you are interested in donating to the relief cause for those impacted by the recent Chilean earthquake, click here or here or here to learn how to help.

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