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1922 Vallenar earthquake
1922 Vallenar earthquake is located in Chile
Date July 8, 1730 (1730-07-08)
Magnitude 8.5 Magnitude Mw
Epicenter location 28°30′S 70°00′W / 28.5°S 70.0°W / -28.5; -70.0Coordinates: 28°30′S 70°00′W / 28.5°S 70.0°W / -28.5; -70.0[1]
Countries or regions affected Chile
Tsunami yes
Casualties several hundred

The 1922 Vallenar earthquake was a magnitude 8.5 earthquake that occurred in the Atacama Region of Chile, near the border with Argentina on November 11, 1922 at 04:32 UTC. [1].[2] It triggered a destructive tsunami that caused significant damage to the coast of Chile and was observed as far away as Australia.


Tectonic setting

The earthquake took place along the boundary between the Nazca and South American tectonic plates, at a location where they converge at a rate of seventy millimeters a year.

Chile has been at a convergent plate boundary that generates megathrust earthquakes since the Paleozoic (500 million yeas ago). In historical times the Chilean coast has suffered many megathrust earthquakes along this plate boundary, including the strongest earthquake ever measured. Most recently, the boundary ruptured in 2010 in central Chile.[3]

Damage and deaths

The earthquake caused extensive damage in a zone extending approximately from Copiapo to Coquimbo. The tsunami killed several hundred people in coastal cities, especially in Coquimbo.[1]

Total damages were estimated to be in the range $5–25 million U.S. (1922 dollars).[1] [4]




The earthquake was preceded by strong foreshocks on 3 and 7 November. The main shock lasted between thirty seconds and eight minutes according to various reports.[5]

The length of the plate boundary that ruptured during the earthquake is estimated to be 390 km.[6]


The epicenter of the earthquake was well inland and the tsunami may have been caused by a submarine slide triggered by the shaking.[7]

At Caldera the tsunami began about 15 minutes after the earthquake, with a maximum run-up height of 7 m. At Chañaral the tsunami had three surges, the first about an hour after the earthquake, the maximum run-up height was 9 m. Three surges were also seen at Coquimbo, the last being the most destructive with a maximum run-up of 7 m.

The tsunami was also observed in Callao, Peru ( 2.4 m), California(0.2 m 13.0 hours delay), Hawaii(2.1 m 14.5 hours), Samoa(0.9 m 14.1 hours), Japan(0.3 m), Taiwan(0.03 m), New Zealand(0.1 m), Australia(0.2 m) and the Philippines(0.1 m).[5]


  1. ^ a b c d USGS, Historic Earthquakes.Chile-Argentina Border. 1922 November 11 04:32 UTC. Magnitude 8.5
  2. ^ Seismological Notes, Bulletin of the Seimological Society of America. "Seismological Notes" is a list of recent important earthquakes with short summaries included in each issue of the BSSA.
  3. ^ USGS (6 March 2010). "Magnitude 8.8 - OFFSHORE MAULE, CHILE". Retrieved 6 March 2010. 
  4. ^ Dunbar, Paula K., Lockridge, Patricia A., and Whiteside, Lowell S., 1992, Catalog of significant earthquakes 2150 B.C. - 1991 A.D.: U. S. Dept. of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  5. ^ a b NGDC. "Comments for 1922 tsunami".,91,95,93&nd=display. Retrieved 6 March 2010. 
  6. ^ SHOA (Servicio de Hidrográfico y Oceanográfico). "Tsunamis registrados en la costa de Chile" (in Spanish). Retrieved 6 March 2010. 
  7. ^ Gutenberg, B. (1939). "Tsunamis and earthquakes". Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America 29 (4): 517-526. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 


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