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Seismic Hazard in CHILE

Chile is located in a highly active seismic zone and is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world[1]. The country is located along the boundary of two major tectonic plates, the South American Plate[2] and the Nazca Plate[3], and is affected by the movement and interaction of these plates.

Chile has a long history of powerful earthquakes, including the largest earthquake ever recorded, the 1960 Valdivia earthquake[4], which had a magnitude of 9.5. In recent years, the country has experienced several significant earthquakes, including the 2010 Maule earthquake[5], which resulted in more than 500 deaths and widespread damage in central Chile, and the 2014 Iquique earthquake[6], which caused widespread damage in northern Chile.

The seismic hazard in Chile is high[1], and the country is vulnerable to the effects of earthquakes due to its geography, population density, and infrastructure. In response to the high seismic risk[1], the Chilean government has implemented a number of measures to improve building codes and to invest in early warning systems and disaster preparedness plans. Despite these efforts, the potential for earthquakes in Chile remains high, and it is important for individuals and communities to be prepared and aware of the steps they can take to protect themselves.

Chile is located along the boundary of two major tectonic plates, the South American Plate[2] and the Nazca Plate[3]. The South American Plate[2] is located beneath the South American continent and is moving westward, colliding with the Nazca Plate[3] along the boundary known as the South American Plate[2] boundary.

The Nazca Plate[3] is located beneath the Pacific Ocean and is moving eastward, colliding with the South American Plate[2] along the boundary known as the South American Plate[2] boundary. This collision and the movement of the plates is responsible for the high level of seismic activity in Chile[1], including earthquakes and volcanic eruptions[1].

The boundary between the South American Plate[2] and the Nazca Plate[3] is known as the South American Plate[2] boundary, which is a convergent plate boundary, where two plates are moving towards each other and one plate is being forced beneath the other. This boundary is also the location of the Peru-Chile Trench, which is one of the deepest parts of the ocean and is formed by the subduction of the Nazca Plate[3] beneath the South American Plate[2].

Understanding the tectonic plates[2][3] in Chile is crucial for understanding the seismic hazard in the region[1] and for predicting and preparing for future earthquakes. The knowledge of the tectonic plates in Chile can help to better understand the geological processes that contribute to the formation of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis in the region.


  1. Armijo, R., Rauld, R., Thiele, R., Vargas, G., Campos, J., Lacassin, R., and Kausel, E. (2010), The West Andean Thrust, the San Ramón Fault, and the seismic hazard for Santiago, Chile, Tectonics, 29, TC2007, doi:10.1029/2008TC002427.
  2. Meijer, P. T., and Wortel, M. J. R. (1992), The dynamics of motion of the South American Plate, J. Geophys. Res., 97( B8), 11915– 11931, doi:10.1029/91JB01123.
  3. Cahill, T., and Isacks, B. L. (1992), Seismicity and shape of the subducted Nazca Plate, J. Geophys. Res., 97( B12), 17503– 17529, doi:10.1029/92JB00493.
  4. Cifuentes, I. L. (1989), The 1960 Chilean earthquakes, J. Geophys. Res., 94( B1), 665– 680, doi:10.1029/JB094iB01p00665.
  5. Moreno, M., Rosenau, M. & Oncken, O. 2010 Maule earthquake slip correlates with pre-seismic locking of Andean subduction zone. Nature 467, 198–202 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature09349
  6. Hayes, G., Herman, M., Barnhart, W. et al. Continuing megathrust earthquake potential in Chile after the 2014 Iquique earthquake. Nature 512, 295–298 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature13677

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