Severe earthquake hits Antarctic | Polarjournal

UPDATE 25/01/21: Another five stations that were in the immediate danger zone have also been evacuated, Chilean authorities report. The emergency agency also reported that the tsunami warning and notice to evacuate went out to all of Chile’s citizens by mistake. It should only have affected the residents of the stations. But only one hour after the quake in the Antarctic, a second quake, independent according to authorities, had shaken the region around Fallerones, barely 36 kilometers from the capital Santiago de Chile. This quake was reported at 5.9 on the Richter scale.

The epicenter of the earthquake was located about 200 kilometers east of the Chilean station Eduardo Frei Montalva at a depth of 10 kilometers. Map: Michael Wenger / Google Earth

An earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale has struck the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Chilean authorities say the quake was registered at 23.36 GMT at a depth of 10 kilometres. The region of the earthquake is located at the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, about 210 kilometers east of the Chilean station Presidente Eduardo Frei de Montalva and north of the second Chilean station Bernardo O’Higgins.

The Chilean station Bernardo O’Higgins is currently inhabited by about 40 people. The station had only recently been re-staffed due to a COVID outbreak. Due to the tsunami warning of the Chilean authorities the station had to be evacuated. Image: Sergio Gonzales

All Chilean stations located on the coast were evacuated due to a tsunami warning issued by the Chilean Onemi authority. A total of 161 people were taken to safety as a precaution. It is not known whether the other stations had also heeded the tsunami warning.

This map from the Chilean Seismological Institute shows the location of earthquakes recorded in the Antarctic Peninsula region since August. Map: Centro Sismologico National Universidad de Chile

The region has been hit several times in recent months by earthquakes, some of them severe. The strongest quake recorded so far had a magnitude of 6.0 and was registered on 6 November. The region lies in a seismically active zone, as the South Shetland Islands, where most Antarctic stations are located, and the Antarctic continent are separated by the Bransfield Basin, which continues to open up and record volcanism as well as earthquakes. Since August last year, authorities have recorded more than 30,000 earthquakes in the region.

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

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