Seismic Activity and Tidal Waves in Chile

Chile is a land of the earthquakes. In recent months, the Aysén region has been affected by small seismic activity every day. Last weekend, an earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale, caused a fjord landslide into the sea. Big waves crashed into the small city of Puerto Tortuga, devastating everything in its way.

Many criticized the reaction of the authorities, for example Copihues Rojos [ES] posts:

Las autoridades discuten si fue tsunami, maremoto o sólo marejada, como si esto tuviera alguna importancia para los que perdieron casas, familiares o sus animales. La Presidenta fué a la zona. Inmediatamente la derecha criticó, que era un error haber ido, pero si no hubiera ido igual la criticarían. El asunto es que hay que solucionar los problemas que deja el sismo y prever lo que pueda venir, por que aún no hay nada seguro sobre lo que vendrá. Hay que tener en cuenta que hace dos años hubo un fuerte terremoto en el norte del país, en la zona cordillerana y aún lo que se derrumbó esta en el suelo, antiguas iglesias construidas por los españoles, monumentos históricos etc.

The authorities are discussing whether this was a tidal wave, tsunami or only a swell, as if this has any importance for the ones that lost houses, relatives or their animals. The president went to the zone. Immediately the right wing criticizes her that was a mistake to go, but they would have criticized her if she hadn't gone. The issue is to solve the problems that the earthquake left and to prevent what might come; because it is still unknown of what might happen. We have to consider that two years ago in the north of the country there was a strong earthquake in the mountain range and what had fallen down is still on the ground, old churches build by the Spanish, historic heritage, etc.

Capitán Tricolor [ES] is a disaster volunteer, ever since the earthquake of 1985 in the central zone of Chile. Referring to the Aysén situation, he recalls the seismic activity that has been affecting the area since January. He explains that the Onemi (ES), (National Emergency Office) wrote a report in March that advised to evacuate the zone an earthquake over 6 on the Richter scale would produce damage. He explains the reason:

El caso de Aysén es diferente, la misma Onemi había anunciado que los movimientos telúricos que han afectado la zona desde enero son de origen volcánico (formación de un cono volcánico submarino), se informó de la muerte de fauna marina por el aumento de la temperatura del agua y la semana pasada se había informado de desprendimiento de laderas de cerros luego de un sismo fuerte.

The Aysen case is different. The Onemi announced that the telluric movements that affected the zone since January are of a volcanic origin (formation of a underwater volcanic cone), and they informed about the death of the marine fauna due to the increase of water temperature. Last week they informed of a landslide of the hillside after a strong earthquake.

Up to now, 3 people have died and 7 are still missing.

The blog El Morrocotudo [ES], posted two impressions of foreigners that were in Aysén: Steve and Rhonda Wilson are missionaries in the the Patagonia and Jen, a British woman, lives with her boyfriend in Coyahique.

The Diban [ES] , the Department of Libraries, Archives and Museums has information about Earthquakes in Chilean history and some photos. The Seismology Service [ES] of the Universidad de Chile (ES) has a complete report of seismic from month to month.


  • Robb

    Please keep us informed. Nothing has been heard about this in the USA. It is much like our disaster with Hurricane Katrina. The government needs to step in and help on a large scale.
    And you’re correct about the right wing criticism: they will criticize the President either way. It is common for them to do the same thing here.

  • Hi Robb:

    The government declares no ending time for the search of the missing people.
    Until know the fisherman have been helping to find the missing people. Also they do a praying for the death, and the web page of the location talks about it as a Tsunami.
    Some politician from the right wing have been over there to meet the people and to help them providing medical equipment.

    Te web page of the municipality is, unfortunately the information is only in Spanish.

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