The Largest Earthquake in the World

The largest earthquake in the world had a magnitude of 9. 5 and took place in Chile. The Valdivia Earthquake, also know as the Great Chilean Earthquake, happened on Sunday, May 22, 1960. It is the largest earthquake currently on record. It occured in the afternoon and the resulting tsunami affected southern Chile, Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, eastern New Zealand, southeast Australia, and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. The epicenter of the Valdivia earthquake was near Lumaco, a coastal city with a population of roughly 11,405.

Various estimates of the total number of fatalities from the earthquake and tsunamis have been published, with the USGS citing studies with figures of 2,231; 3,000; or 5,700 killed, and another source uses an estimate of 6,000 dead. An estimated cost of 2. 9 to 5. 8 billion in damage. The 1960 Valdivia earthquake was actually just a series of many strong earthquakes from May 21 to June 6,1960. The first was the Concepcion earthquake and the strongest was the Valdivia earthquake. The first Concepcion earthquake was on May 21,1960.

Its epicenter was near Curanilahue. The second and third Concepcion earthquakes occurred a few hours apart from each other on May 22. The Valdivia earthquake occurred on May 22. This earthquake affected all of Chile between Talca and Chiloe Island, more than 150,000 sq mi. Most coastal villages disappeared. At Corral, the main port of Valdivia, the water level rose 13 ft before it began to recede. A wave of 26 ft struck the Chilean coast, mainly between Concepcion and Chiloe. Ten minutes later another wave measuring 33 ft was reported.

Hundreds of people were already reported dead by the time the tsunami struck. One ship, Canelos, starting at the mouth of Valdivia River sank after being moved 0. 93 mi backward and forward in the river; its mast is still visible today. A number of Spanish-colonial forts were completely destroyed. Soil subsidence also destroyed buildings, deepened local rivers, and created wetlands in places like the Rio Cruces and Chorocomayo, a new aquatic park north of the city. Extensive areas of the city were flooded.

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The electricity and water systems of Valdivia were totally destroyed. Witnesses reported underground water flowing up through the soil. Despite the heavy rains of May 21, the city was without a water supply. The river turned brown with sediment from landslides and was full of floating debris, including entire houses. The earthquake did not strike all the territory with the same strength. The two most affected areas were Valdivia and Puerto Octay near the northwest corner Llanquihue Lake.

East of Puerto Octay in a hotel in Todos los Santos Lake piles of plates were reported to have remained in place. Two days after the earthquake a volcanic vent erupted. Other volcanoes may also have erupted, but none were recorded due to the lack of communication in Chile at the time. The relatively low death toll in Chile, estimated at 6,000, is explained in part by the low population density and by buildings being built taking into account that the region has many earthquakes and volcano eruptions.

Other possible reasons include a high number of wooden houses and that coastal towns also tended to be located on higher ground. After the eruption, began the landslides. The earthquake triggered many landslides, mostly near the Andes. These landslides did not cause many fatalities nor significant economical losses because most of the areas were uninhabited with only minor roads. One landslide did cause destruction and alarm following its blockage of the outflow of Rinihue Lake.

About 100 km south of Rinihue Lake, landslides in the mountains around Golgol River caused this river to dam up and then burst creating a flood down to Puyehue Lake. The Valdivia earthquake led to the formation of the ONEMI. ONEMI is the Spanish acronym for National Emergency and Information Office. ONEMI helps solve problems after earthquakes, large or small. The Valvidia earthquake was also referenced in two fictional novels, and the tsunami following the earthquake was referenced in a Hawaii Five-O episode titled “Forty Feet High and it Kills! “.

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