The largest earthquake recorded in the 20th century is the 1960 Valdivia earthquake, also known as the Great Chilean earthquake which occurred on May 22, 1960 and hit approximately 100 miles off the coast of Chile, which is parallel to the city of Valdivia. With a rate of 9. 5 on the moment magnitude scale, this earthquake occurred in the afternoon and lasted approximately 2 minutes (brit). After just thirty minutes of the major earthquake, a foreshock shook the area near the towns of Valdivia and Peurta Montt (kids).
The four foreshocks that followed had a magnitude of greater than 7. 0. The largest earthquake had a magnitude of 7. and caused a large amount of damage to the Concepcion area. The devastating earthquake triggered a tsunami just off the coast of central Chile, which affected the entire Pacific Basin (usgs). After Chile, the tsunami traveled hundreds of miles and caused destruction all around the Pacific. The places that experienced the most impact was Hawaii and Japan (2010). The earthquake set off waves which bounced back and forth across the Pacific Ocean for a week (history). The Great Chilean earthquake along with the large tsunamis, has caused substantial damage to the country, it resulted to loss of life and homes, and presented long-term effects.
Although the massive destruction had an overall negative effects, the natural disaster can be seen positively to help better prepare if anything like this occurs again. The geologic process of the earthquake that hit Valdivia, Chile started when the ground along either side of a fault moves. The reason for this is because of the buckling and stress from the movement of the tectonic plates. The epicenter of the earthquake was 60 meters below the ocean floor about 100 miles off the coast of Chile. Valdivia and Puerto Montt suffered significant damages based on how nearby they were to the center of a massive quake (extreme).
The earthquake was a megathrust earthquake which is caused by the release of mechanical stress between the subducting Nazca Plate and the South American Plate which is on the Peru-Chile Trench. The population was strongly affected by both the earthquake and the tsunami, which was triggered after. The amount of casualties is uncertain but is reported to ranges from a low of 490 to a high of “approximately 6000”. Most of the damage and deaths were caused by the series of tsunamis which traveled across the Pacific Ocean at a speed of over 200 miles per hour, with waves that reached up to 25m.
The waves swept over coastal areas, pushing buildings and drowned many people (geology). More than 3 000 were injured, 2 000 000 were left homeless, and $550 million damaged was totaled in southern Chile. The tsunami caused a reported 61 killed by the waves in Hawaii, and $75 million in damages (usgs). The tsunami arrived to Japan after traveling 22 hours which gave the Japanese enough time to put out alerts but there was still 185 people either dead or missing, more than 1600 homes, and a total of $50 million in damage. Another 32 people are dead or killed in the Philippines approximately 24 hours after the earthquake (geology).
The damage total was $500 000 to the west coast of the United States. This is the most powerful earthquake recorded which resulted to extensive damage. The environmental impacts that the earthquake had in Valdivia included an estimate of about 40% of the houses being demolished in the process which left 20 000 people homeless (2010). Wooden houses did not collapse but were still found uninhabitable. Other houses which were built upon elevated areas experienced less damage. Lowlands, on the other hand, absorbed great amounts of energy.
Most buildings which was built of concrete were found collapsed due to the lack of earthquake engineering (history). The summary of damages include: 4 133 schools, 79 hospitals, 212 bridges, 9 airports were damaged, and a total of 710 boats were lost (edu). Some structures were never rebuilt again; for example, many city blocks with destroyed buildings are found empty until the 1990s and 2000s, some of these spaces are now used as parking lots. Most of the bridges suffered minor damage, however, the CauCau Bridge suffered and has not been rebuilt (history105).
The tsunami which was generated by the earthquake has also caused a substantial amount of damage to the environment not only in Chile, but also in Hawaii, and California. In Hawaii, the areas which was affected most by the waves was completely destroyed except for the buildings with reinforced concrete or structural steel. The damage in California was major, according to the reports in Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors. Damages including boats and ships being destroyed which resulted to thousands of liters of gasoline and oil spillage, incidents with the ferry service, damages to bridges, and destroying highways. geology)
The earth experienced changes during the quake because of the extraordinary amount of energy released from below, these changes affected the geology. There were massive landslides that were sent down mountain slopes. Some of these landslides were so enormous that they changed the course of major rivers. Such as, the Port city of Peurto Montt which subsided (sunk downward) because of the movement during the quake. The Government policy was also affected by the event of the earthquake because it helped established the faults in their system.
From their mistakes, they learned lessons which helped them better prepare and respond for situations like this. These changes were set out by the Ambassador of Chile, Arturo Fermandois. A few of the problems that were observed include, Seismological and telecommunication infrastructure. This included the fact that the the communications were down for more than 12 hours and sensors took more than 2 hours to give information. To help solve this problem, the government decided to provide real time monitoring process and robust telecommunications systems with multiple backups.
Another problem was issuing alarms. The alarm system was unclear and there was no use of mass communication channels. To solve this, there are plans for clear communication protocols and more use of mass communication channels. Lastly, there was no special emergency task force in place for helping to early evaluate the damages. The government will be working on developing an army emergency task force who are specialized in emergency procedures (edu). Hawaii was also affected by the following tsunami and learned about their faults in their tsunami warning system.
It’s shown that the victims who were killed or injured thought there would be two sirens, and the second one would mean an evacuation. They failed to understand that the first siren is the signal to evacuate immediately (wsspc). To improve, the government can help educate their people to understand and recognize the different parts of the warning system. The geologic process was overall affected by this disaster because it helped Chile, and other places that were affected, to learn lessons which will help them prepare, manage, and have a better response to disasters like this.