Why the earthquake in Ecuador?

  • Ecuador earthquake occurred as a result of the movement of the Nazca and South American plates.
  • with a magnitude of 7.8, the earthquake has left 272 dead and over 2,000 injured.

Ecuador earthquake, registered on Saturday April 16 at 18:58 h (local time) with a magnitude of 7.8, was the worst earthquake in the country in the last thirty years. The hypocenter occurred off Pedernales (Manabí), twenty kilometers deep, leaving at least 272 dead ​​ and more than 2,000 wounded.

Ecuador earthquake occurred as a result of the movement of the Nazca and South American plates. with a magni...

the earthquake in Ecuador was the worst earthquake in the country in the last thirty years Since last Saturday, the Geophysical Institute of Ecuador has collected more than 230 aftershocks, with sizes ranging from 3.5 to 6 1 of magnitude and located near Puerto Cabuyal mostly in the province of Manabi. These replicas are superficial, ie have happened to a less than twenty kilometers deep. The most important was recorded yesterday April 17 at 2:13 pm (local time), with a magnitude of 6.1, which could be felt even in Guayaquil. After personal injury and occurring materials, one wonders why it happened the earthquake in Ecuador and if possible occurring earthquakes as powerful in the coming days.

The theory of plate tectonics


In 1912, Alfred Wegener ran a completely revolutionary and controversial theory about the movement of continents. According to the German soldier and professor of meteorology in the past continents they have been united in a supercontinent called Pangea. Drifting explain that subsequently continents had split.

The current continents were united in the past into one, called Pangea To explain this drift, geologists like Harry Hess raised a new hypothesis: the theory of plate tectonics, based on the principles of Wegener. According to this idea, each plate is a portion of the Earth’s lithosphere that moves independently. Its boundaries are defined by processes of seismicity and volcanism, as those that marked the earthquake in Ecuador.

The theory of cookies and custards

University of California

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the theory of plate tectonics can be explained with a culinary metaphor. Each plate could be compared with a cookie that “floats” over the mantle, like custards. Thus the plates or crackers can move separating or approaching other boards or moving in parallel.

Tectonic plates are cookies that moves on the earth’s mantle, custard like depending on the relative motion of the plates, are also defined tres plate boundaries. If the motion is separation, it is divergent boundaries or ridges; in the case of rapprochement between the plates, we speak of convergent boundaries or pits; and finally, the parallel shifts cause limits or transform faults.

What happened in Ecuador?


Why the earthquake in Ecuador?



Distribution of aftershocks and mainshock, black triangles indicate the seismological stations. Source: Geophysical Institute of Ecuador

The last informe Geophysical Institute of Ecuador said that the quake occurred as a result of the shift between two tectonic plates: Nazca plate (oceanic plate) dives beneath the South American (continental shelf). The movement is known as subduction, and is the same that was behind the Ecuador earthquake of January 31, 1906, with a magnitude of 8.8 was the largest recorded in the country and the most important globally sixth. Other quakes, like those of 14 May 1942 and 19 January 1958 with magnitudes of 7.8, and the earthquake in Ecuador of December 12, 1979, with a magnitude of 8.1, occurred also due this phenomenon.

the Nazca plate dives beneath the South American, a process known as subduction According to experts of US Geological Survey United States, the Nazca plate sinks beneath the continental plate at a speed 61 millimeters per year. This rupture movement is known as reverse fault, a phenomenon that started against Pedernales and headed south causing the earth tremble, the study of post-earthquake aftershocks Ecuador. Works with GPS signals high precision showed that the region was in a process of increasing accumulation of energy. In other words, the possibility that happen an earthquake like the one last Saturday was high.

Can more earthquakes

US Geological Survey

Experts have called the earthquake in Ecuador as “an earthquake important “not only for the number of deaths and injuries, but because it is the most serious occurred in the country since 1979 and presented a similar earthquakes of 1942 and 1958. the number of aftershocks that have occurred since last Saturday magnitude will tend to decrease, although can not rule still has more earthquakes with magnitudes greater than 5.0.

The number of replicas start to decline although it is not excluded that there may be earthquakes with greater than 5.0 The quake that shook Ecuador therefore occurred by a well-known phenomenon magnitudes. And it is that the orientation of the fault plane coincides with the direction of the subduction zone, ie the region where the Nazca plate sinks beneath the continental plate. GPS data collected so far have allowed us to find areas of accumulation of effort which also coincide with the contact zone between the oceanic plate and the South American. The event, studied for years by geology, has caused one of the biggest recent misfortunes in Ecuador. Knowing this phenomenon will allow us to improve forecasting systems, alert and evacuation at such strong quakes as last Saturday.

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Bibliography ►
Phoneia.com (April 18, 2016). Why the earthquake in Ecuador?. Recovered from https://phoneia.com/en/why-the-earthquake-in-ecuador/

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