Hawaii scientists track Chile's earthquake swarm - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii scientists track Chile's earthquake swarm

EWA BEACH (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii geophysicists are monitoring a recent cluster of earthquakes along Chile's northern coast. More than 300 quakes and smaller tremors have rattled the region in a little more than a week. The swarm started after a magnitude 6.7 temblor on March 16 that forced thousands of people to evacuate coastal areas.

"Chile is one of the most earthquake-prone regions in the world. It's on the "Ring of Fire" which is a boundary of crustal plates of the Earth's surface where they intersect," explained Barry Hirshorn of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

The PTWC received a call from authorities in Chile. Geophysicists are keeping an eye on the tremors, but said the activity doesn't necessarily mean that a devastating quake will strike soon.

"They really only tell us something about the probability and not enough specifics to enable us to help in any concrete way," Hirshorn said.

A magnitude 8.8 temblor in central Chile prompted a tsunami warning for Hawaii in 2010. Back in 1960, a tsunami created by a magnitude 9.5 event off the coast of south central Chile killed 61 people in Hilo.

"Take this as an opportunity to train yourself. It may not have to be the one you have to worry about, but use it to go through the motions," said Hirshorn.

Scientists are ready to sound the alarm in case of a tsunami threat from the country.

"If there was a magnitude 8 over there, it's 12 hours for that tsunami to get to Hawaii anyway and you'll hear about it long before then," Hirshorn said.

The agency can't predict when the next big earthquake will strike, but experts hope that people will be prepared.

"It is a matter of when that we are eventually going to get something, but we can't say when," said Hirshorn.


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