Violent Earth

Yesterday, the world just witnessed (and the Chileans and Argentinians felt) one of the strongest earthquakes in modern history magnitude-wise. An 8.8 earthquake (in Mercalli scale; 8.3 in Richter scale) rocked Chile and left thousands devastated. The epicenter of the earthquake is somewhere along the coast of Santiago, very near Concepcion and Talcahuano. In the books, it’s the 7th strongest earthquake ever recorded, but this isn’t the strongest ever felt yet. An infamous 9.5 earthquake hit Chile too, some 50 years ago, killing 1,655 people. As of the last news I’ve watched (several hours ago), there has been a toll of more than 300 people dead – it could’ve been worse if this earthquake was to happen somewhere else. The good news is that the people of Chile have been used with several tremors (but not anything of this scale). Somehow, the people are more calm and prepared than when it would’ve happened say, in California.

A major North-South bridge has been destroyed, along with Santiago’s airport terminal. Reports suggest that the airport may be closed until Tuesday. Communications as of now are okay, but at the time of terror, everything was a mess. It happened at the worst time possible – 3:34AM – there were no daylight, people were all asleep, and it took the government hours before they can truly measure the damages done to the country. It’s great that President Michelle Bachelet was in command that time, even though I’m only watching in the television.

During the first hour after the quake, the people lost count of the aftershocks that occurred in the area, but reports suggest that there were at least 25 of them, one measuring a staggering 6.9 magnitude (almost as strong as Haiti’s quake), while others (6 others) measuring at least 6.0. You couldn’t imagine the horror that the citizens of Chile felt during that time. The aftershocks could even be felt for as far as Argentina, even if the Andes Range were in the way. Unbelievable strength.

To measure the strength of an 8.8, seismologists compared it to the one that rocked Haiti not more than two months ago. The quake in Chile released an immense strength 800 times stronger than that of Haiti’s, almost like a nuclear explosion. Imagine that!

(Photos courtesy of CNN, Getty Images)

But the earthquake and aftershocks were just one part of the story. The other part were the tsunamis that may be produced. Initially, while I was watching the news, the whole Pacific Basin was in a state of Tsunami Alert (not just a watch or advisory, but an Alert!), and yes, it included the Philippines, even as far as Hawaii, Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand, Japan, and Russia! Thankfully though, all alerts have been cancelled (except for Japan, Russia, and Australia), although there were still some minor waves that hit the coasts of Japan.

The reason why the Haiti quake did not produce a terrifying tsunami alert is because of the nature of the quake. The Haiti quake is a lateral-plate quake (a strike-slip one), meaning, it would not produce a tsunami of great amplitude as that of the potential of an 8.8 one, which is a result of a convergent plate quake (between the Nazca Plate and the South American Plate). The reason why it might reach as far as the Asian countries is because of the lack of mainland in the Pacific Ocean, giving the waves no reason to stop.

Photo courtesy of CNN. Darker colors pose threats of higher amplitude waves.

Some were even questioning if there were any connections among this Chile quake, the recent Haiti quake, the Okinawa quake (Richter 7.3) which occurred the other day, and the Gen.Santos City, Philippines minor quake. Compound it with the multitude of typhoons that devastated the Philippines (Ondoy, Pepeng, Ramil, Santi, etc..) and the recently occurring El Nino, could this really be the start of the end? Well, scientists say, it’s not. It’s just the result of natural phenomena and some man-made disasters compounded together, some coincidentally, some not. I say we start to pray and think over the options as to how we treat nature. We are all creatures of God, and even though we have been given dominion over the other creatures, we are also told to subdue them – which means that we must see Mother Nature not as a tool, but as a companion, the very reason why we are sexed (so that we may be driven by inter-personal relationships). We are now feeling the effects of Global Warming, so we must consciously act according to what is right.

If you have relatives or friends in Chile, you may contact 1-888-407-47-47 to get some news from them. The internet is also a very huge source of news today, especially CNN, Twitter, and Facebook. Also, Google launches its Person Finder again, so you may use it to find information for someone, or post information.

My heart and prayers all go out to the families in Chile. May they view this as a challenge, not a wrath given by God and never lose hope to start anew. With Him, nothing is impossible.

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