Science & Technology
Evidence of world's largest ever earthquake discovered
April 20, 2022 | 1 comment
Chile has seen more than its fair share of devastating earthquakes. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 hanonimas
Scientists have found signs of a historical earthquake so large that it produced a tsunami 5,000 miles long.
Until recently, the largest earthquake on record occurred in southern Chile in 1960 which struck with a magnitude as high as 9.6, killed 6,000 people and produced a devastating tsunami.
Now, however, scientists have found evidence of an even larger earthquake - one that was so powerful and devastating that it left entire coastlines uninhabited for 1,000 years.
It occurred 3,800 years ago - again in Chile - except this time in the north rather than the south.
"It had been thought that there could not be an event of that size in the north of the country simply because you could not get a long enough rupture," said study co-author James Goff.
An analysis of marine and coastal life in the region suggests that this mega-earthquake was truly apocalyptic and would have absolutely devastated human settlements along the coastline.
"The local population there were left with nothing," said Goff.
"Our archaeological work found that a huge social upheaval followed as communities moved inland beyond the reach of tsunamis. It was over 1,000 years before people returned to live at the coast again, which is an amazing length of time given that they relied on the sea for food."
Worryingly, should a similarly sized earthquake occur again in the region in the future - and given the much larger populations that exist there now - it could wreak devastation beyond imagining.
Source: Live Science
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