June 10, 2007
Mother Nature made her presence known in southern Chile this past weekend, when wacky weather ruined homes in Region VIII and a cluster of quakes rattled already uneasy residents in Region XI.
Early Saturday morning, five homes in the Region VIII town of Lota suffered serious damage after being struck by what residents there described as a “tornado.” Though meteorologists have been unable to confirm whether the area was in fact struck by a tornado – a very rare thing in this part of the world – authorities did clock wind gusts of between 50-70 kilometers-per-hour. The intense storm, which also produced hail, left 20 people homeless.
Several hours later, residents in the Region XI towns of Puerto Aysén and Puerto Chacabuco experienced a startling six tremblers in the span of just 30 minutes. Though all noticeable – registering between three and four on the Mercalli Scale – the quakes did not cause any significant damage.
The Saturday morning barrage was certainly nothing new for area residents, who have endured numerous quakes in recent months. The most devastating took place on April 21, when 10 people died after a 6.2-magnitude quake struck the area, causing landslides and a subsequent mini-tsunami in the Aysén Fjord (ST, April 23).
Scientists believe the prolonged period of seismic activity is likely being caused by a subterranean magma flow – originated at a point directly below the Fjord. The magma, which is pressuring a subterranean tectonic plate, could eventually push its way to the surface and form a relatively small volcanic cone on the floor of the Fjord, according to experts
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