2010 Chile earthquake
2010 Chile earthquake
Epicenter of the 2010 Chile earthquake
Date 27 February 2010 Origin time 03:34 CST (UTC+03:00) Magnitude 8.8 Mw Depth 35 kilometres (22 mi) or 30.1 kilometres (19 mi) Epicenter  or  Countries or regions Chile Max. intensity MM VIII or MM IX Peak acceleration 0.65 g Tsunami Yes Casualties 525 killed, 25 missing.
The 2010 Chile earthquake occurred off the coast of central Chile on Saturday, 27 February 2010, at 03:34 local time (06:34 UTC), having a magnitude of 8.8 on the moment magnitude scale, with intense shaking lasting for about three minutes. It ranks as the sixth largest earthquake ever to be recorded by a seismograph. It was felt strongly in six Chilean regions (from Valparaíso in the north to Araucanía in the south), that together make up about 80 percent of the country's population. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) the cities experiencing the strongest shaking—VIII (Destructive) on the Mercalli intensity scale (MM)—were Arauco and Coronel. According to Chile's Seismological Service Concepción experienced the strongest shaking at MM IX (Violent). The earthquake was felt in the capital Santiago at MM VII (Very Strong) or MM VIII. Tremors were felt in many Argentine cities, including Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Mendoza and La Rioja. Tremors were felt as far north as the city of Ica in southern Peru (approx. 2400 km). The earthquake triggered a tsunami which devastated several coastal towns in south-central Chile and damaged the port at Talcahuano. Tsunami warnings were issued in 53 countries, and the wave caused minor damage in the San Diego area of California and in the Tōhoku region of Japan, where damage to the fisheries business was estimated at ¥6.26 billion (USD$66.7 million). The earthquake also generated a blackout that affected 93 percent of the country's population and which went on for several days in some locations. President Michelle Bachelet declared a "state of catastrophe" and sent military troops to take control of the most affected areas. According to official sources, 525 people lost their lives, 25 people went missing and about 9% of the population lost their homes.
According to the USGS the epicenter of the earthquake was about 3 km (1.9 miles) off the coast of Pelluhue commune in the Maule Region. This is about 6 km (3.7 miles) west of the village of Chovellén, 15 km (9.3 miles) southwest of the town of Pelluhue and at a point approximately 100 km (62 miles) away from the following four provincial capitals: Talca (to the north-east), Linares (to the east), Chillán (to the south-east) and Concepción (to the south). Chile's Seismological Service located the quake's epicenter at about 34 km (21 miles) off the coast of Ñuble Province in the Biobío Region. This is 60 km (37 miles) north of Concepción and 170 km (110 miles) south-west of Talca.
On March 10, Swiss Reinsurance Co. estimated that the Chilean quake would cost the insurance industry between 4 and 7 billion dollars. The rival German-based Munich Re AG made the same estimate. Earthquake’s losses to economy of Chile are estimated at US$15-30 billion.
- 1 Seismology and geology
- 2 Damage and casualties
- 3 Conditions in the aftermath
- 4 Tsunami
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Seismology and geology
The earthquake took place along the boundary between the Nazca and South American tectonic plates, at a location where they converge at a rate of eighty millimeters (about three inches) a year. This earthquake was characterized by a thrust-faulting focal mechanism, caused by the subduction of the Nazca plate beneath the South American.
Chile has been at a convergent plate boundary that generates megathrust earthquakes since the Paleozoic era (500 million years ago). In historical times the Chilean coast has suffered many megathrust earthquakes along this plate boundary, including the strongest earthquake ever measured, which is the 1960 Valdivia earthquake. Most recently, the boundary ruptured in 2007 causing the 2007 Antofagasta earthquake in northern Chile.
The segment of the fault zone which ruptured in this earthquake was estimated to be over 700 km (430 mi) long with a displacement of almost 10 meters. It lay immediately north of the 1,000 km (620 mi) segment which ruptured in the great earthquake of 1960. Preliminary measurements show that the entire South American Plate moved abruptly westward during the quake. A research collaborative of Ohio State and other institutions have found, using GPS, that the earthquake shifted Santiago 11 inches (28 cm) to the west-southwest and moved Concepción at least 10 feet (at least 3 meters) to the west. The earthquake also shifted other parts of South America from the Falkland Islands to Fortaleza, Brazil. For example, it moved Argentina’s capital of Buenos Aires about one inch (2.5 cm) to the west. Several cities south of Cobquecura were also raised, by up to 3 meters. The maximum recorded peak ground acceleration was at Concepcion, with a value of 0.65 g (6.38 m/s2)
Compared with past earthquakes
This was the strongest earthquake affecting Chile since the magnitude 9.5 1960 Valdivia earthquake (the most energetic earthquake ever measured in the world), and it was the strongest earthquake worldwide since the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake until the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake. It is tied with the 1906 Ecuador-Colombia and 1833 Sumatra earthquakes as the sixth strongest earthquake ever measured, 501 times more forceful than the 7.0 Mw earthquake in Haiti in January of 2010.
An aftershock of 6.2 was recorded 20 minutes after the initial quake. Two more aftershocks of magnitudes 5.4 and 5.6 followed within an hour of the initial quake. The USGS said that "a large vigorous aftershock sequence can be expected from this earthquake". By March 6 UTC, more than 130 aftershocks had been registered, including thirteen above magnitude 6.0.
A 6.9-magnitude offshore earthquake struck approximately 300 kilometers southwest of, and less than 90 minutes after, the initial shock; however, it is not clear if that quake is related to the main shock. A separate earthquake of magnitude 6.3 occurred in Salta, Argentina, at 15:45 UTC on February 27, at a depth of 38.2 km (23.7 mi); two people were injured and one died in Salta. This earthquake was followed on March 1, at 06:32 UTC by a magnitude 4.9 aftershock. Four other earthquakes above M5.0, some possible aftershocks, also occurred near the border in Argentina following the Chile earthquake; a magnitude 5.0 earthquake occurred in Mendoza on February 28, a M5.3 earthquake in Neuquen and a M5.2 in San Juan on March 2, and a M5.1 quake in Mendoza on March 4.
Minor quakes generated by the main one could be felt as far away as São Paulo, Brazil, located about 3,000 km (1,900 mi) away from Concepción. Since the major earthquake, and as of March 15, at least four to forty >M5.0 earthquakes have been recorded daily in the vicinity of the main earthquake, including four above magnitude 6.0 between March 3 and 00:00 UTC March 6.
On March 5, two aftershocks above M6.0 were reported. The first was a 6.3-magnitude off the coast of the Biobío Region. The second was near the epicenter of the original quake at 08:47 local time with a magnitude of 6.6.
On March 11, the March 2010 Chile earthquake (strength 6.9, treated by some as an aftershock of the February 2010 earthquake) was reported, followed quickly by further aftershocks measuring 6.7 and 6.0. The epicenter of the 6.9 quake was in Pichilemu, O'Higgins Region.
On March 15, two aftershocks of the February 2010 earthquake were reported, one at magnitude 6.1 at 08:08:28 local time offshore Maule, and another at magnitude 6.7 with the epicenter located offshore the Biobío Region, near Cobquecura, at 23:21:58 local time. This tremor was followed by two minor aftershock, one occurring 45 minutes later, measuring M5.5. No tsunami was reported and there were no tsunami warnings issued.
On March 17, at 14:38:37 local time, an earthquake of magnitude 5.2 was recorded in Aisén, in Southern Chile. Another magnitude 5.2 earthquake was recorded in Los Lagos the next day. On March 26, at 10:52:06 local time, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake hit the Atacama region, in Northern Chile.
The Biobio Region of Chile has had strong aftershocks of this earthquake. The first one was a magnitude 6.7 MW earthquake that struck off the coast of Biobío, Chile, at 23:21 on March 15, 2010 at the epicenter, at a depth of 18 kilometres (11 mi). The second earthquake struck on land in the region at 22:58 (UTC) on April 2, 2010 at 5.9 MW and at a depth of 39 km. The third struck on 10:03 (UTC) on April 23, 2010 at 6.2 MW. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that historical data indicates that this quake will not generate a tsunami but still advised of the possibility. On May 3, at 19:09 an earthquake magnitude 6.4 MW struck off Biobío, Chile, at the epicenter, at a depth of 20 kilometres (12 mi). The epicenter was 55 kilometres (34 mi) south of Lebu. On July 14, 2010, another 6.5 magnitude earthquake occurred in the area.
On 2 January at 17:20:18 local time, a 7.1 magnitude aftershock occurred 70 kilometers northwest of Temuco, Chile. On Lautaro, Cañete, Nueva Imperial, Traiguén and Carahue the quake was felt at intensity VI (strong) of the Mercalli scale. In Temuco it was perceived at intensity V (moderate). In Talcahuano, Concepción, Chillán, Osorno and Valdivia it shook at intensity IV (light). According to the USGS the earthquake's epicenter was located on the ground, east of the coastal town of Tirúa in the Araucanía Region. However, according the University of Chile's Seismological Service, the seismic event was located 134 kilometers off the coast of Tirúa, measuring a magnitude 6.9 ML. The University of Chile also reported that the localities who received the strongest shaking (VI) were Curanilahue, Lebu and Tirúa. In Concepción, Talcahuano and Temuco it was felt at intensity V, and in Chillán and Valdivia at intensity IV.
A magnitude 6.2 (;Mw) aftershock struck the coast of Biobío, Chile at a shallow depth of 15.1 km (9.4 mi) on 1 June 2011 at 08:55 local time (12:55 UTC). It was centered just offshore Arauco Province near a moderately populated area, with most structures in its vicinity reported to be resistant to earthquake shaking. Strong shaking registering at VI on the Mercalli scale was felt in Lebu, just 7 km (4 ) south of the epicenter, lasting for approximately one minute. Some residents in coastal areas panicked and evacuated their homes. The earthquake was followed by a moderate magnitude 5.1 Mw tremor that occurred about 52 minutes later to the northeast of the main shock epicenter at an estimated depth of 26.9 km (16.7 mi). Initial estimates from the USGS placed its intensity at a magnitude of 6.4 Mw.
Seismologists estimate that the earthquake was so powerful that it may have shortened the length of the day by 1.26 microseconds and moved the Earth's figure axis by 8 cm or 2.7 milliarcseconds. Precise GPS measurement indicated the telluric movement moved the entire city of Concepción 3.04 meters (10 ft) to the west. The capital Santiago experienced a displacement of almost 24 centimeters (10 in) west, and even Buenos Aires, about 1,350 kilometres (840 mi) from Concepción, shifted 3.9 centimeters (1.5 in). It is estimated that Chile's territory could have expanded 1.2 km² as a result.
Damage and casualties
People were found dead after the earthquake struck, mostly under buildings and inside cars. Many people were also seriously injured. Most injuries were reported in Santiago and Maule.
According to an Associated Press Television News cameraman, some buildings collapsed in Santiago and there were power outages in parts of the city. A fire was reported in a chemical plant on the outskirts of Santiago and caused the evacuation of the neighborhood. Santiago's International Airport seems to have been damaged and the airport authority has closed off all flight operations for the next 24 hours from around 12:00 UTC. On Sunday, February 28, Ricardo Ortega, head of the Chilean Air Force, said commercial airline services had been partially re-established and aircraft were being allowed to land in Santiago.
Santiago's national Fine Arts Museum was badly damaged and did not reopen until 9 March 2010. An apartment building's two-story parking lot collapsed, wrecking 68 cars. According to one health official, three hospitals in Santiago collapsed, and a dozen more south of the capital also suffered significant damage.
In Valparaíso, a tsunami wave of 1.29 m was reported. The port of Valparaíso was ordered to be closed due to the damage caused by the earthquake. The port started to resume limited operations on February 28. In Viña del Mar, a touristic city and part of Greater Valparaíso, several buildings were structurally damaged, principally in the district Plan de Viña.
Many cities in Maule region were seriously affected by the earthquake. Curanipe, only 8 km (5 mi) from the epicenter, was hit by a tsunami after the earthquake and still remained isolated from outside as of February 28. A surfer said the tsunami "...was like the one in Thailand, a sudden rise of water. One could not estimate the dimension of the wave, because it was advancing foam. There were 10 to 15 rises, the last one being at 08:30 in the morning." In Talca, the capital of Maule region, many dead were trapped in the rubble. The administrative building was uninhabitable, and the authorities had to be set up in the parade ground. All but two of the local hospital’s thirteen wings were in ruins. Dr. Claudio Martínez was quoted as saying, “We’re only keeping the people in danger of dying.” Hospital staff attempted to transport some patients to Santiago on Sunday morning, but roads were blocked.
Damaged buildings and fires were reported in Concepción. Rescue teams had difficulty accessing Concepción because of the damaged infrastructure. The fifteen-story residential building "Alto Río" fell backwards, horizontally lay on the ground, and trapped many of the residents. As the building was newly completed, 19 of the apartments were occupied and 36 were unknown if there were residents therein. A 2.34 m (7.68 ft) tsunami wave hit Talcahuano, a port city and part of the Concepción conurbation. The tsunami caused serious damage to port facilities and lifted boats out of the water. In the fishing town of Dichato, which has 7,000 residents, it was the third tsunami wave that ended up being the most damaging.
Dilapidated buildings could be seen on the streets of Temuco, about 400 km (250 mi) from the epicenter. The adobe of some buildings fell. Façades fell in pieces and crushed cars. Two people were reported dead because of not having been able to escape from a nightclub. On February 27, it was reported that "to find an open business is almost impossible" ("Encontrar un negocio abierto es casi imposible").
In Chile, 370,000 homes were damaged. The final death toll of 525 victims and 25 people missing was announced by authorities in January 2011.. This is down from early reports on March 3 of 802 people dead.
The Chilean National Emergency Office (Oficina Nacional de Emergencia) estimated that the intensity of the earthquake was 9 on the Mercalli scale in the Biobío Region and 8 in Santiago. USGS put the intensity in Talcahuano at MM VIII, in Santiago and Concepción at MM VII and in Valparaíso at MM VI.
On March 10, Swiss Reinsurance Co. estimated that the Chilean quake would cost the insurance industry between 4 and 7 billion dollars. And this is the same estimate made by the rival German-based Munich Re AG.
Fire at a plastics plant, Santiago, Chile.
A car crushed by the rubble of a collapsed building in Temuco.
Modified Mercalli intensities for some localities
Locality Country USGS SS Population Angol Chile VII 45k Antofagasta Chile II Arauco Chile VIII 25k Buín Chile VII 55k Bulnes VII 13k Cabrero VII 18k Calama Chile II Cañete Chile VII 20k Carahue Chile VI 12k Cauquenes Chile VII 31k Chiguayante Chile VII 83k Chillán Chile VII 150k Chimbarongo Chile VII 17k Coihueco Chile VII 7k Collipulli Chile VII 16k Concepción Chile VII IX 215k Constitución Chile VII 38k Copiapó Chile III Coquimbo Chile III Coronel Chile VIII 93k Corral Chile IV 4k Curanilahue Chile VII 31k Curicó Chile VII 102k Cutral-Co IV 47k El Monte VII 23k Freire Chile VI 8k General Roca IV 73k Graneros Chile VII 23k Hacienda La Calera VII 49k Huayco Chile III Illapel Chile V 23k La Laja Chile VII 17k La Ligua Chile VI 25k La Unión Chile IV 26k Lampa Chile VII 29k Las Ánimas V 30k Las Gaviotas V 2k Lautaro Chile VII 22k Lebu Chile VII 22k Limache Chile VI 36k Linares Chile VII 70k Llaillay Chile VI 17k Loncoche Chile V 16k Longaví Chile VII 6k Los Andes Chile VI 57k Los Ángeles Chile VII 125k Lota Chile VII 50k Machali Chile VI 28k Melipilla Chile VII 63k Mendoza Argentina IV 877k Molina Chile VII 29k Mulchén Chile VII 22k Nacimiento Chile VII 21k Neuquén Argentina IV 242k Nueva Imperial Chile VI 19k Osorno Chile V 136k Paine Chile VII 33k Panguipulli Chile V 16k Parral Chile VII 27k Penaflor Chile VII 66k Penco Chile VII 46k Pitrufquen Chile VI 14k Puerto Montt Chile V Quillota Chile VII 68k Quilpué Chile VII 130k Rancagua Chile VII VIII 213k Rengo Chile VII 38k Río Bueno Chile IV 15k Salamanca Chile V 13k San Antonio Chile VII 86k San Bernardo Chile VI 250k San Carlos VII 32k San Clemente Chile VII 14k San Felipe Chile VII 59k San Javier Chile VII 22k San Juan Argentina IV 447k San Luis IV 184k San Martín IV 83k San Rafael IV 109k San Vicente VII 23k Santa Cruz VII 33k Santiago Chile VII VIII 4,837k Talagante Chile VII 52k Talca Chile VII VIII 197k Talcahuano Chile VII 253k Temuco Chile VI VIII 238k Teno Chile VII 7k Tierra Amarilla Chile III Tomé Chile VII 47k Traiguén Chile VII 14k Valdivia Chile V VI 133k Valparaíso Chile VII VI 282k Victoria Chile VII 25k Vicuña Chile III-IV Vilcún Chile VI 9k Villa Alemana Chile VI 97k Villarrica Chile VII 32k Viña del Mar Chile VI VI 295k Yumbel Chile VII 11k
Notes: USGS=United States Geological Survey, SS=Chile's Seismological Service.
Deaths caused by the earthquake and tsunami by region[note 1] Region 27. February 28. February 1. March 2. March 3. March 4. March 5. March 8. March Valparaíso 4 16 16 18 20 16 24 Metropolitana 13 36 38 38 38 21 23 O'Higgins 12 46 48 48 48 3 46 Maule 34 541 544 587 587 177 269 Biobio 10 64 64 92 92 56 120 Araucanía 5 5 13 13 14 6 15 National total 78 708 723 796 799 279 452 497
Population with destroyed or severely damaged homes
The table below shows the percentage of the population whose homes were destroyed or were severely damaged by the earthquake and tsunami in the six most affected regions. The data was collected in May and June of 2010.
Region % of pop. Valparaíso 7.4 Santiago 4.8 O'Higgins 12.2 Maule 20.7 Biobío 17.8 Araucanía 5.1 Total (six regions) 8.8
Source: Casen Post-Earthquake Survey, Ministry of Planning.
Despite President Michelle Bachelet's earlier statement that Chile would only ask for international aid once it had assessed the extent of the damage, leaders of many countries and intergovernmental organizations, including the United Nations and European Union, responded to the earthquake and sent messages of condolence to the government and people of Chile over the loss of lives and property. Argentina, Mexico, the United States, United Kingdom, People's Republic of China, Singapore, Haiti, and Pakistan were among the countries that responded earliest following the quake. Appeals for humanitarian aid were issued by the UK-based Oxfam, Save the Children and others.
Chilean television host Don Francisco led a telethon called Chile helps Chile with the goal of raising 15 billion pesos (about US$29 million) needed to build 30,000 emergency houses ("mediaguas"). The charity event, which ran for 24 hours in Santiago starting on Friday March 5 at 22:00, was summoned by the government and organized by several Chilean NGOs. At 23:00 on Saturday the goal was doubled, collecting 30.2 billion pesos (about US$58 million).
The Chilean NGO Un Techo para Chile constructed 23,886 transitional houses for families affected by the earthquake.
Conditions in the aftermath
Chaos and disorder
Nearly half the places in the country were declared "catastrophe zones", and curfews were imposed in some areas of looting and public disorder. On February 28, 2010, a day after the earthquake, some affected cities were chaotic, with extensive looting of supermarkets in Concepción. Items stolen included not only food and other necessities, but also electronic goods and other durable merchandise. To control vandalism, a special force of carabineros was sent to disperse rioters with tear gas and water cannons. However, despite these and other government acts (including the curfews), pillaging continued in both urban and rural areas of the affected zones. Reportedly, military police arrested 160 in Concepción on March 1 and 2.
In Concepción, despite the militarization of the zone, mobs continued to steal from supermarkets and went as far as to set one store ablaze. The government warned looters they would face the full weight of the law, as penalties for stealing are increased under a state of catastrophe. A week after the quake the police —tipped by neighbors— arrested three people with massive quantities of looted goods stashed in their homes. Other looted goods such as mattresses, furniture, television sets and other electronic appliances were abandoned in the streets of Concepción during the following days.
According to the BBC on March 5, the city and fishing port of Talcahuano, which lies but a few kilometers down the coast from Concepción, has been left largely to fend for itself. Neighbourhood vigilante groups, including one led by a public works employee with a gun license, and the few police present allow such behavior as residents' siphoning fuel from tanks at a petrol station, but step in if someone starts to attack a cash machine. One man stated, "I've personally saved dozens of people from attack in this apartment block."
Chileans living in regions not affected by the earthquake (including those living abroad) also grieved, as they sought to learn more regarding kinsmen and friends affected by the earthquake. In the hardest-hit zones there was no communication with the exterior because of the failure of electricity and the destruction of telephone lines.
In the prison of El Manzano in Concepción, a prison riot began after a failed escape attempt by the inmates. Different parts of the prison were set afire and the riot was brought under control only after the guards shot into the air and received help from military units.
By March 1, prison guards in Chillán had recaptured 36 of 203 prisoners who had escaped following the earthquake. During their escape, prisoners burned seven houses close to the prison. A witness in Chillán asserted that he had been robbed by prisoners with a machine gun who had also forced his girlfriend to kiss them. Another witness alleged sexual molestation by around twenty men who were believed to be escaped prisoners. The leading Chilean newspaper El Mercurio described the situation in Chillán as reminiscent of the "Wild West".
Four hours after the earthquake, when the death count was still low, President Bachelet gave a press conference in which she informed the population of the situation and stated that Chile did not yet need international aid. However, about two million people were affected by the quake with more than 500,000 houses uninhabitable. In many cities, people slept in tents, in parks or simply on the streets for fear of aftershocks. The government began distributing food and other vital aid around the country.
On February 28, President Bachelet said that her government had reached an agreement with the major supermarkets which would allow them to give away basic foodstuffs in stock to people affected by the earthquake. By February 28, the Santiago Metro rapid-transit network was already partially up and running and expected to be fully operative on the following day, March 1.
On March 4, President-elect Sebastián Piñera, who assumed office on March 11, was quoted as saying that his goals were "to cope with the emergency needs of citizens, find people who are still missing, provide prompt and timely assistance to the sick and wounded, and restore law and order so that people can return to peace."
Authorities of the central port city of San Antonio speaking on March 3, 2010, stated that the port had returned to eighty percent of capacity. On the same date, Raul Maturana, a spokesman for the Federation of Port Workers' union, stated that the port of Valparaíso was operating normally. However, ports in southern Chile, which were closer to the epicenter, remained closed.
On March 4, President Bachelet said that Chile would need international loans and three to four years to rebuild.
On March 10 the National Commission for Agricultural emergencies (CNEA) assured that milk and wheat prices would not rise, despite fears of lack of fuel supply for transport and harvest of these products. In the same CNEA report the mill associations of central and southern Chile are said to have expressed that they had currently no production difficulties. Despite of this in March 11 newspaper La Segunda cited the president of the bakeries association complaining on unjustified price rises for flour, who said of cases of price rises of 10 to 20%.
The earthquake affected production at the Compañía de Cervecerías Unidas (CCU) and Cervecería Chile factories that together have a 90% share of the Chilean beer market. With an average annual per capita consumption of 36 liters, scarcity caused prices to rise from 990-1500 to 2000 Chilean pesos per litre. CCU responded by increasing capacity of their plant in Temuco that did not suffer major damage during the earthquake and by importing beer from their factories in Argentina. 50 trucks with beer are reported to have reached Santiago from Argentina. In March 2010, ten CCU executives said that the country will not run out of beer and that within two to three months production levels would be normalized. Liquor store owners expressed complaints regarding CCU's beer rationing. The scarcity favoured consumption of "premium beers" like Kunstmann and Paceña.
A tsunami warning was first declared for Chile and Peru, and a tsunami watch for Ecuador, Colombia, Antarctica, Panama and Costa Rica. The warning was later extended to a Pacific Ocean-wide warning, covering all coastal areas on the Pacific Ocean except the west coast of the United States, British Columbia, and Alaska. Hawaiian media reported that tsunami warning sirens first sounded at 06:00 local time. The U.S. Tsunami Warning Center issued advisories about potential tidal waves of less than 1 m (3 ft 3 in) striking the Pacific Ocean coastline between California and most of Alaska late in the afternoon or through the evening 12 or more hours after the initial earthquake. Although the earthquake killed far fewer people than the Haitian earthquake less than 7 weeks prior, it was still devastating. The tsunami warning was cancelled for all countries except Japan and Russia in PTWC Bulletin 18 of 00:12 UTC on 28 February 2010.
The U.S. National Weather Service's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning throughout a huge swathe of the Pacific region, including Antarctica. In the Americas, the warning extended to Chile (including Easter Island), Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Panama. A warning was also issued for the Oceania and Pacific Islands nations and territories of American Samoa, Australia, the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia (including the FSM states of Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap), Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Jarvis Island, Johnston Island, the Kermadec Islands, Kiribati, Marcus Island, the Marshall Islands, Midway Island, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Wallis and Futuna and Wake Island. Tsunami warnings were also in effect as far away as East and Southeast Asia including Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Russia and Taiwan.
Coastal areas of Canada's westernmost province British Columbia was under a tsunami advisory. No large wave was expected to strike British Columbia, but strong local ocean currents combined with a wave put low-lying coastal regions at risk of flooding. The first wave was expected to reach southern British Columbia at 15:11 local time. Residents were advised to avoid beaches, harbours and marinas.
A tsunami advisory was also issued for coastal areas of California, Oregon, Washington and southern Alaska in the United States. This tsunami advisory was canceled as of 07:13 UTD on February 28.
Russian authorities lifted a tsunami alert for the Kamchatka coast, after the arrival of a 0.8 m (2.6 ft) surge that caused no damage. The tsunami was also reported to be small along the Japanese coast, and passed without incident. Many coastal areas in Japan had been evacuated as a precaution.
The projections use DART (Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis) gauges spread along the sea floor, which is a fairly new technology. Initial deep sea readings showed wave height of 25 centimeters, which is huge for deep water according to Gerard Fryer of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. He went on to say, “although it was huge, we didn't quite know what it meant because we haven't much experience with those. As we get more under our belts, we'll get better."
Some 30 minutes after the first shock, consecutive tsunamis hit coastal towns, among which Constitución suffered the hardest damage; subsequently, a tsunami amplitude of up to 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in) high was recorded in the sea at Valparaíso. A wave amplitude of 2.34 m (7.68 ft) was recorded at Talcahuano in the Biobío Region. Robinson Crusoe Island, the largest of the Juan Fernández Islands, was struck by a large wave led to the deaths of four people on the island, with eleven people reported as missing, according to Provincial Governor Ivan De La Maza. President Bachelet is reported to have sent an aid mission to the remote island.
As a precaution against the coming tsunami, partial evacuation was ordered in Easter Island, about 3,510 km (2,180 mi) away from the coast of Chile. The tsunami wave arrived in Easter Island at 12:05 UTC, measuring 0.35 m (1.15 ft).
On 27 February, defense minister Francisco Vidal said that the Chilean Navy had made a mistake by not immediately issuing a tsunami warning after the earthquake, a step that could have helped coastal villagers flee to higher ground sooner. However, an alarm was later sounded by port captains and saved some lives. The head of Chile's oceanographic service SHOA, which is part of the country's navy, was later fired for the organization's failure to provide clear warnings about the tsunami.
- New Zealand
Initially, the New Zealand Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (CDEM) said they did not expect a tsunami to reach New Zealand, but later issued a warning stating that waves of up to 1 m (3 ft 3 in) high were likely for the eastern and later the entire New Zealand coast. By 19:55 UTC (08:40 local), CDEM reported wave activity of 50 cm (1.6 ft) in the Chatham Islands, and 2 m (6 ft 7 in) surges were reported there later in the morning. A surge 2.2 m (7 ft 3 in) high hit the South Island's Banks Peninsula, while surges up to 1 m (3 ft 3 in) high were reported in the northern North Island. By mid afternoon (local time), Civil Defence had downgraded the tsunami warning to an alert, while still advising that sea levels could change quickly for up to 24 hours from the initial surge.
The U.S. Antarctic Program's coastal station along the Antarctic Peninsula, Palmer Station, went on a tsunami alert shortly after the earthquake struck Chile. To prepare for a possible tsunami, station personnel removed all Zodiac boats from the water and moved any materials from low-lying areas that waves could have swept away. Personnel also retreated to the station’s highest building, GWR, while the tsunami warning was in effect, Ellis said. Palmer personnel developed a tsunami emergency plan following the 2004 earthquake in the Indian Ocean that created a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in 14 countries. While no noticeable tsunami occurred at Palmer, the station tide monitor displayed bumps of several centimeters, signifying that a small wave had indeed reached the shores of Anvers Island.
The Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Center (JATWC) sent out tsunami warnings for New South Wales, Queensland, Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, Tasmania, and Victoria. The organization warned of the possibility of dangerous waves, strong ocean currents and foreshore flooding to occur on the east coast of Australia for several hours on Sunday. As a result of the warnings, patrolled beaches in New South Wales and Queensland remained closed (red flags) and lifeguards ushered people to leave the water. However beach goers and surfers ignored the warnings. Numerous onlookers also crowded parts of the shore to view potential effects of the tsunami. The beach ban was lifted by the end of the day and there was no reports of damage, flooding or other emergencies. Tsunami waves of between 10 cm and 50 cm were recorded and their surges were believed to have created strong currents. Increases in sea levels include: Norfolk Island 50 cm, Gold Coast (Qld) 20 cm, Port Kembla (NSW) 14 cm, Southport (Tas) 17 cm.
- French Polynesia
A wave measuring up to 6 ft (1.8 m) high struck portions of French Polynesia between 15:50 to 17:50 UTC with no reports of injuries as of February 28, 2010[update]. A wave 4 meters high is reported to have struck Hiva Oa in the Marquesas Islands. The first waves were expected to hit the main island of Tahiti at approximately 16:50 UTC (07:50 local). Cars and other automobiles were banned from roads closer than 500 m (1,600 ft) from the Pacific Ocean.
Réseau France Outre-mer in Papeete reported that a wave measuring less than 1 m (3 ft 3 in) passed east of the Gambier Islands with no damage, according to Monique Richeton, the mayor of Rikitea. Residents of the Tuamotus, which are low-lying, were told to move to the highest points on the island.
- American Samoa
The first wave was expected to reach American Samoa, which is still recovering from the 2009 Samoa earthquake and tsunami, at 08:51 local time. Lieutenant Governor Ipulasi Aitofele Sunia urged residents not to rush to A'oloau, a high elevation area on Tutuila, as it could cause traffic jams, putting safety at risk. Many coastal towns, including the main city of Pago Pago, had already been heavily damaged in the 2009 tsunami. The first wave arrived on Pago Plaza at 21:58 UTC.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) issued an advisory that tsunami wave(s) were expected to hit the eastern coast of the Philippines on Sunday between 05:00 and 06:30 UTC (13:00 and 14:30 local). Residents of 19 eastern provinces "are advised to prepare for possible evacuation." However, at 15:15 on February 28, 2010, all warnings have been cancelled.
United States Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka issued a joint press release announcing the first tsunami evacuation in Hawaii since 1994. Warning sirens were sounded throughout the state, as hotels in Waikiki evacuated tourists at 6 a.m. People in tall buildings were encouraged to move above the third floor. Waves measuring nine feet high were originally predicted to strike Hilo Bay on the Big Island of Hawai'i at 11:05 local time (21:05 GMT), but by 11:18, major receding and waves had not been reported on the shoreline. By 11:40, several waves hit the islands amounting to raising and lowering of the sea near the coast, and a fourth wave hit around 13:12. The tsunami warning for Hawaii was canceled in the early afternoon on Saturday, February 27.
Gerard Fryer, a geophysicist for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center was quoted as saying: “We expected the waves to be bigger in Hawaii, maybe about 50 percent bigger than they actually were." Early in the morning, the Center expected waves of 10 feet. In actuality, the highest tsunami waves ended up being about 5 to 6 feet peak to trough.
- British Columbia
At around 23:00 UTC (15:00 local), a tsunami warning was issued for coastal British Columbia. Extra precautions were already in place due to the 2010 Winter Olympics being held in Vancouver at the time.
Small waves were expected in Southern California, and receding was reported at Long Beach. Minor damage was reported on some coastal areas. The tsunami damaged navigation buoys at Ventura. Additionally, a boat was torn loose from its mooring and minor erosion occurred within Ventura Harbor. Damage to docks and pilings in the area was moderate.
In Guerrero, surges of between 30 cm and 1 meter and receding of up to 10 m were reported, and three small vessels were sunk at Tecpán de Galeana. The state tourism authorities announced they would be sending a letter to the CNN news network to protest the "alarming" way in which it had forecast a tsunami for the major tourist destination of Acapulco.
Argentina has sent construction teams to Chiloé Island to help reconstruct some of the washed away coastal buildings. In July 2010, the government of Argentina released a statement that they would lend $300 million to Chile for reconstruction efforts using Argentine goods.
The following data, published by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center, lists measured and reported values of the tsunami when it arrived at specific places. Some data is taken from the Chilean Army.
Tsunami arrival data Station Country or territory Latitude Longitude Time (UTC) Height (m) Height (ft) Pichilemu Chile 34.23 S 72.0 W 06:48 3.02 10.0 Talcahuano Chile 36.9 S 75.4 W 06:53 2.34 7.7 Valparaíso Chile 33 S 71.6 W 07:08 1.29 4.2 Corral Chile 39.9 S 73.4 W 07:39 0.90 2.9 San Felix Chile 26.3 S 80.1 W 08:15 0.53 1.7 Caldera Chile 27.1 S 70.8 W 08:34 0.45 1.5 Ancud Chile 41.9 S 73.8 W 08:38 0.62 2.0 Coquimbo Chile 30 S 71.3 W 08:52 1.32 4.3 Iquique Chile 20.2 S 70.1 W 09:07 0.28 0.9 DART Lima Peru 18 S 86.4 W 09:41 0.24 0.8 Antofagasta Chile 23.2 S 70.4 W 09:41 0.49 1.6 Arica Chile 18.5 S 70.3 W 10:08 0.94 3.1 Callao Peru 12.1 S 77.2 W 10:29 0.36 1.2 Easter Island Chile 27.2 S 109.5 W 12:05 0.35 1.1 Quepos Costa Rica 9.45 N 84.15 W 14:16 0.24 0.8 Galapagos Islands Ecuador 0.4 S 90.3 W 14:52 0.35 1.2 DART Marquesas Islands French Polynesia 8.5 S 125 W 15:31 0.18 0.6 Rikitea French Polynesia 23.1 S 134.9 W 15:59 0.15 0.5 DART Manzanillo 16.0 N 107 W 16:11 0.07 0.2 Manzanillo Mexico 19.1 N 104.3 W 17:05 0.32 1.0 Hiva Oa French Polynesia 9.8 S 139.0 W 17:41 1.79 5.9 Nuku Hiva French Polynesia 8.9 S 140.1 W 17:45 0.95 3.1 Papeete French Polynesia 17.5 N 149.6 W 18:10 0.16 0.5 Cabo San Lucas Mexico 22.9 N 109.9 W 18:33 0.36 1.2 Rarotonga Cook Islands 21.2 S 159.8 W 19:07 0.15 0.5 Acapulco Mexico 16.8 N 99.9 W 19:31 0.62 2.0 DART San Diego 32.2 N 120.7 W 19:31 0.06 0.2 Lottin Point New Zealand 37.6 S 178.2 E 19:34 0.15 0.5 DART Tonga 23 S 168.1 W 20:03 0.04 0.1 Apia Samoa 13.8 S 171.8 W 20:18 0.13 0.4 Nukualofa Tonga 21.1 S 175.2 W 20:24 0.1 0.3 Pago Pago American Samoa 14.3 S 170.7 W 20:27 0.22 0.7 Monterey, California United States 36.6 N 121.9 W 20:31 0.28 1.1 San Diego, California United States 32.7 N 117.2 W 20:36 0.13 0.4 San Francisco, California United States 37.8 N 122.5 W 21:20 0.26 0.8 Hilo, Hawaii United States 19.7 N 154.9 W 21:20 0.86 2.8 Kuamalapau, Hawaii United States 20.8 N 156.9 W 21:36 0.18 0.6 Kahului, Hawaii United States 20.9 N 156.5 W 21:47 0.98 3.2 Santa Barbara, California United States 34.4 N 119.7 W 21:50 0.53 1.7 Barber's Point, Hawaii United States 21.3 N 158.1 W 21:57 0.12 0.4 Honolulu, Hawaii United States 21.3 N 150.4 W 22:00 0.25 0.8 Kawaihae, Hawaii United States 20 N 155.5 W 22:11 0.52 1.7 Crescent City, California United States 41.7 N 124.2 W 22:13 0.37 1.2 Vanuatu Vanuatu 17.8 S 168.3 E 22:46 0.15 0.5 Johnston Atoll United States 16.7 N 169.5 W 22:48 0.22 0.7 Nawiliwili, Hawaii United States 22 N 159.4 W 23:23 0.37 1.2 Sitka, Alaska United States 57.1 N 135.3 W 00:11 28 Feb 0.08 0.3 Guam Guam 13.4 N 144.7 E 03:07 0.16 0.5 Minamitorishima Japan 24.1N 153.5E 03:43 0.1 0.3 DART Saipan 19.1 N 155.8 E 03:55 0.08 0.3 Otsuchi, Iwate Japan 39.21 N 141.54 E 06:43 1.45 4.35 Yamada, Iwate Japan 39.47 N 141.95 E 08:14 1.61 4.85 Hachinohe, Aomori Japan 40.30 N 141.29 E 08:44 0.9 2.7 Nemuro, Hokkaido Japan 43.20 N 145.35 E 09:23 1.0 3.0 Kuji, Iwate Japan 40.11 N 141.46 E 10:01 1.2 3.6 Susaki, Kochi Japan 33.24 N 133.17 E 10:42 1.2 3.6 Shibushi, Kagoshima Japan 31.30 N 131.03 E 10:56 1.0 3.0
- 2010 Pichilemu earthquake
- 2010 Haiti earthquake
- 03:34: Earthquake in Chile
- March 2010 Chile blackout
- List of earthquakes in Chile
- Seismicity of the Chilean coast
- 2011 Puyehue eruption
- List of 21st century earthquakes
- List of largest earthquakes by magnitude
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- Chile Earthquake coverage on ReliefWeb
- Aftershock survey
- Maps of the Chile Earthquake from NYT
- International Seismological Centre, Scientific compilation of data.
- Tsunami Event page for Feb 27, 2010 Chile tsunami - Maximum wave amplitude plot, Propagation animation, Model-data comparison plots. From the NOAA Center for Tsunami Research.
- Open Directory - Earthquakes: Past Earthquakes: Chile 2010 at Open Directory Project
- Chile Earthquake and Tsunami - February 27, 2010 in the Yahoo! Directory at Yahoo! Directory
- Chilean Earthquake Toll Passes 800; Aid Yet to Reach Many Devastated Areas - video report by Democracy Now!
- Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis GIS datasets
- 1960 Chile tsunami (earthquake magnitude Mw 9.5) Maximum amplitude plot - for comparison with Feb 27, 2010 Chile tsunami event. From the NOAA Center for Tsunami Research.
← Major earthquakes in 2010 → January
Solomon Islands (7.1, Jan 3) · Eureka (USA) (6.5, Jan 10) · Haiti (7.0, Jan 12)†‡ · Drake Passage (Chile) (6.3, Jan 17)
Chile (8.8, Feb 27)† · Salta (Argentina) (6.3, Feb 27)
March April May June
Papua (Indonesia) (7.0, Jun 16) · Central Canada (5.0, Jun 23) · Oaxaca (Mexico) (6.2, Jun 30)
Borrego Springs (USA) (5.4, July 7) · 5th Biobío (Chile) (6.5, Jul 14) · New Britain (Papua New Guinea) (7.3, Jul 18) · Mindanao (Philippines) (7.6, 7.4, Jul 24) · Iran (5.6, July 30)
Ecuador (7.1, Aug 12)
3rd Sumatra (Indonesia) (7.7, Oct 25)†
Serbia (5.3, Nov 3)
Hosseinabad (Iran) (6.5, Dec 20) · Bonin Islands (Japan) (7.4, Dec 21)
† indicates earthquake resulting in at least 30 deaths
‡ indicates the deadliest earthquake of the year
2010 Chile earthquake Humanitarian responses · Timeline of relief efforts Affected geography OtherChile helps Chile · Gracias a la Vida · Que Cante la Vida · 03:34: Earthquake in Chile2010 Pichilemu earthquake · March 2010 Chile blackout · Pichilemu Fault See also: List of earthquakes in Chile · List of 21st century earthquakes · List of tsunamis
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