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The Chilian Earthquake

Nature volume 110, pages 683684 (18 November 1922) | Download Citation



FROM the first accounts which have reached this country, it is evident that one of the world's greatest earthquakes occurred shortly before midnight on November IO-II off the coast of Chile. As in all such earthquakes, the duration of the shock was considerable-nearly three minutes at Valparaiso and four minutes at Caldera-but it should be remembered that such estimates may include some of the immediately succeeding after-shocks. There can be no doubt, however, as to the great extent of the disturbed area. Along the coast, the shock was felt from Antofagasta to Valdivia, a distance of i 100 miles. It was felt across the continent at Buenos Avres, where it was strong enough to stop clocks. As this city is about goo miles from Coquimbo (which appears to be near the epicentre), the disturbed area must contain more than 21 million square miles. The shock is also said to have been felt at Hilo, in Hawaii, but, without further and much stronger evidence, the statement may be discredited. The district over which houses were damaged was also large, though perhaps not unusually large. The zone most affected was that between Coquimbo and Chanaral, the latter place being nearly ioo miles north of Coquimbo, but houses were also slightly damaged at Valparaiso, which lies about 240 miles to the south. In this earthquake, as in so many others on the western coast of America, it is difficult in the early accounts to separate the effects of the shock from those produced by the sea-waves and by the fires that followed the earthquake. The sea-waves were observed along the coast from at least Antofagasta on the north to Talcahuano (near Concepcion) on the south, a distance of nearly a thousand miles. They were large enough to wash away boats at Hilo in Hawaii. All the submarine cables along the coast appear to be broken, but the statement that soundings taken between Copiapo and Caldera gave a depth of 86 fathoms, instead of 2800 fathoms as marked on the chart, must of course be erroneous. The earthquake resembles its predecessors in its submarine origin some distance from the coast.

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