An 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Chile Tuesday around 6:46 p.m. and triggered tsunami waves.
"Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated. It may have been destructive along coasts near the epicenter and could also be a threat to more distant coasts,” said the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
Warnings were immediately sent out to other South American regions like Ecuador and Peru.
The center said that the tsunami could have struck in minutes near coastlines of the epicenter and even within an hour in more distant coastlines.
Colombia, Nicaragua, Panama, Hawaii, and Costa Rica, were placed on a tsunami watch and threat alert following the earthquake.
The U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center was also evaluating the danger posed on western states including Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake occurred among the Nazca Plate Region. It was reportedly 6.2 miles in-depth and centered 62 miles northwest of Iquique.
The survey reported in their summary:
“Relative to a fixed South America plate, the Nazca plate moves slightly north of eastwards at a rate varying from approximately 80 mm/yr in the south to approximately 65 mm/yr in the north. Although the rate of subduction varies little along the entire arc, there are complex changes in the geologic processes along the subduction zone that dramatically influence volcanic activity, crustal deformation, earthquake generation and occurrence all along the western edge of South America.”
Most magnitudes of 8.0 or higher tend to generate tsunamis. For example, in 1960 Chile's M9.5 tsunami-generating earthquake was one of the largest ever recorded in the history of earthquakes.
In February 2010, an 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Maule, Chile and activated a tsunami that claimed the lives of 525 people. It was recorded as the sixth largest earthquake by a seismograph.
No injuries or damages have yet to be reported in Tuesday's earthquake.
Chile residents along the coast have been ordered to evacuate until further notice.
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