The western countries of South America sit on the Nazca Plate, an oceanic tectonic plate in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. Over the last half-century, this geological feature has caused major headaches from Colombia to Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. Over the last 10 years, LADB has covered some of the earthquakes in the region, including recovery efforts and political implications. Here are some of the headlines. We included analysis from the Incorporated Research Institutes for Seismology (IRIS).
More than one-quarter of the world's “Great” magnitude 8 or larger earthquakes have occurred in western South America, including the 1960 magnitude 9.5 Chile megathrust earthquake, the largest earthquake ever recorded. An array of earthquakes are generated by Nazca-South American plate boundary and intra-plate tectonic processes. This animation explores three major mechanisms for earthquakes due to the interaction of the plates: Incorporated Research Institutes for Seismology (IRIS)
Photo: Caribbean Tectonics
September 21, 2007: Peru: Recovery Fund Set Up After 8.0 Magnitude Earthquake Pounds Region South Of Capital, Kills Over 500
A severe 8.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the coastal area of southern Peru on Aug. 15, killing at least 540 people and leaving about 80,000 Peruvians homeless. The cities of Pisco and Ica were badly hit, along with the surrounding regions along a 130-km stretch of the Pacific coast. Casualty numbers could have been massive if Lima where a huge portion of the country's population lives had been more directly shaken.
March 12, 2010: Massive Earthquake Strikes Just Ahead Of Presidential Handoff
As Chile digs out from the massive Feb. 27 earthquake, the largest to hit the South American country in a half century, political divisions exacerbated by the recent elections continue to lurk just below the surface. The seemingly interminable quake, which lasted more than two horrifying minutes, struck in the wee hours of Saturday morning and affected a huge swath of the country from north of Santiago to as far south as Puerto Montt in the Lakes Region. For the millions of Chileans shaken awake by the monster magnitude 8.8 event, it was in all senses a living nightmare.
March 26, 2010: Sebastián Piñera Takes Helm Of Quake-rattled Nation
Two decades of leadership by the center-left Concertacion coalition came to an official end March 11, when Sebastian Pinera, a conservative billionaire businessman and onetime senator, donned Chile's presidential sash for the first time in what turned out to be literally an earth-shaking event. Just minutes before the start of the ceremony, held in the Congress building in Valparaiso, a series of powerful tremors rippled through central Chile, putting a natural exclamation point on a transfer of power already loaded with historic significance. Not only did Pinera's inauguration swing the country to the right for the first time since the end of the military dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990), it also came less than two weeks after Chile suffered its worst natural disaster in half a century: a magnitude 8.8 earthquake that struck Feb. 27.
December 10, 2010: Chile President and Opposition Trade Barbs while Earthquake Victims Wait for Solutions
Nine months after one of the strongest earthquakes in recorded history jolted central Chile, the disaster has returned to the national forefront as fodder in a mudslinging match between the country’s increasingly popular President Sebastián Piñera and a weakened opposition eager to find a chink in the first-year leader’s political armor. The massive magnitude 8.8 quake and subsequent tsunami struck Feb. 27, less than two weeks before Piñera took office. The back-to-back disasters killed 521 people and caused an estimated US$30 billion in damages, destroying homes, bridges, and other structures throughout Chile’s central regions.
January 2, 2011 Magnitude 7.1 Earthquake in Central Chile (IRIS)
September 30, 2012 Magnitude 7.3 Colombia (IRIS)
October 9, 2015: Chile Slammed but Not Leveled by Third Major Earthquake in Five Years
As cleanup efforts continue following last month’s major earthquake off the coast of Illapel, in the Coquimbo Region of northcentral Chile, more than a few observers are marveling at how relatively well the country fared—all things considered. The disaster that unfolded on the evening of Sept. 16, just ahead of Chile’s annual Fiestas Patrias (Independence Day) celebrations, was both horrifying and tragic. The powerful quake ruined thousands of dwellings, prompted a mass evacuation along the country’s lengthy coastline—parts of which were inundated by tsunami waves—and killed 15, according to the Ministerio del Interior y Seguridad Pública's Oficina Nacional de Emergencia (ONEMI). It also triggered a barrage of aftershocks (more than 800 to date), rattling already frayed nerves not only in Norte Chico, as the hardest-hit area is known, but in the populous Metropolitan (Santiago) and Valparaíso Regions, as well.
November 24, 2015 Iris Reports Earthquakes Along Brazil-Peru Border
May 20, 2016: Ecuador Accused of Boosting Taxes to Cover Costs of Earthquake Damage
Ecuador has a pro-forma 2016 budget of approximately US$25 billion and a fiscal shortfall of some $US8 billion, caused mainly by a dependence on oil exports that have suffered falling prices in the last two years. Now, the government has decided to deal with the economic crisis by creating new and unexpected taxes, arguing that more funds are needed to face the damage caused by the April 16 earthquake on its northern coast... Following the earthquake, Ecuadorans showed their solidarity in many ways: various public and private entities, especially municipalities, managed to collect major quantities of food, clothing, water, and even money. They organized to take the supplies to the earthquake areas, but they came up against government officials who decided the government would take charge of distribution.