Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Earthquakes in Peru

(as seen in our hotel)

With the confined space portion of our trip behind us I think it’s now safe to discuss Peru’s vast earthquake history.  Peru is in a seismic zone created by the South American tectonic plate subjugating the Nazca plate.  This fault line exists just off the coast of Peru and has resulted in more than 50 recorded earthquakes over the last 500 years.  These earthquakes have resulted in a cycle of constant rebuilding along the coast and produced more than 175,000 casualties through the years.  Three of the worst earthquakes in Peru are mentioned below.

1746 Lima Calloa Earthquake – October 28, 1746
Casualties – 6,000 / Magnitude 8.8
The second largest recorded earthquake in history with a rupture length of 350km.  This quake leveled the city of Lima in under 4 minutes and resulted in 200 aftershocks in the first 24 hours! An astounding 1,700 aftershocks were attributed to this quake over the next 112 days.  The majority of casualties occurred in Calloa where an 80’ tsunami wave landed.  This same wave also destroyed the Port of Pisco for a second time.

1868 Arica Earthquake – August 13th, 1868
Casualties – 25,000 – Magnitude 9.0
The highest magnitude earthquake reported in Peru which created a tsunami wave that destroyed the city of Pisco and hurled 1,500 ton battleships a half mile inland.  This earthquake produced 400 aftershocks over the next 10 months.

1970 Ancash Earthquake – May 31, 1970
Casualties – 100,000 / Magnitude 7.9
The worst natural disaster recorded in Peru’s history.  Although the magnitude of this quake was relatively low it came at the end of a particularly rainy season and triggered widespread avalanches and landslides that resulted in the high casualty count.

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