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Tsunami warnings issued after major earthquake strikes off Chile

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Breaking news out of Chile after a major earthquake struck the region on Tuesday evening.

Tsunami warnings have been issued for Chile, Peru & Ecuador after a preliminary magnitude 8.0 earthquake happened about 6:46 p.m. CT Tuesday evening just 50 miles northwest of Iquique, Chile. Tsunami watches have been issued for Colombia, Panama & Costa Rica. All watches and warnings were issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Evacuations were ordered shortly after the quake and folks were seen rushing into city streets and away from coastal regions.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported the magnitude 8.0 earthquake on their website and Facebook page, which was upgraded to a magnitude 8.2 after further evaluation. Several aftershocks also rocked the region after the initial quake, with the strongest jolt a magnitude 6.7 shortly afterward. Shock waves were felt as far away as both Peru and Bolivia. The earthquake was initially reported to be 6.21 miles deep with damage to bridges, roadways, and buildings reported. At least five people are reported dead and several fires and landslides were also reported.

Massive earthquakes are relatively common to this region, the strongest quake ever recorded in modern history occurred in Chile in 1960, measuring a magnitude 9.5. According to the USGS on their website ...

The South American arc extends over 7,000 km, from the Chilean margin triple junction offshore of southern Chile to its intersection with the Panama fracture zone, offshore of the southern coast of Panama in Central America. It marks the plate boundary between the subducting Nazca plate and the South America plate, where the oceanic crust and lithosphere of the Nazca plate begin their descent into the mantle beneath South America. The convergence associated with this subduction process is responsible for the uplift of the Andes Mountains, and for the active volcanic chain present along much of this deformation front. Relative to a fixed South America plate, the Nazca plate moves slightly north of eastwards at a rate varying from approximately 80 mm/yr in the south to approximately 65 mm/yr in the north. Although the rate of subduction varies little along the entire arc, there are complex changes in the geologic processes along the subduction zone that dramatically influence volcanic activity, crustal deformation, earthquake generation and occurrence all along the western edge of South America.

Stay tuned for more on this developing situation.

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