Seismicity in South America

June 27, 2001


Provided by: USGS
Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster

This past Saturday (June 23), a major earthquake rocked a good portion of western South America. As of now, the death toll is approaching 100, and thousands of people are homeless. The shaker occurred near the coast of Peru (latitude 16 degrees south, longitude 73 degrees west) and registered a magnitude 8.1 (USGS magnitude), the most powerful quake so far in 2001. The map above shows seismicity (earthquake activity) for the continent of South America during the period 1975-1995. The color bar at right indicates the depth below the surface at the epicenter of the earthquakes. For the most recent quake on the 23rd, the epicenter was at the boundary of the South American Plate and the Nazca Plate, where the west coast of South America bows eastward. Although the epicenter was approximately 800 kilometers south of Lima, it was felt hundreds of kilometers away in Bolivia and Chile. In Peru's second largest city, Arequipa, known for its historical colonial buildings, widespread damage was reported.

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