The devastation in Haiti from January’s earthquake was still fresh in our minds when another massive quake rocked Chile this weekend with an 8.8 magnitude.  UW-Madison Geophysics professor Clifford Thurber says in terms of size, Haiti was a “run-of-the-mill” 7.0 quake and Chile’s is among the top ten in the last century.

Despite greater seismic activity in Chile, the death toll will be a fraction of the more than 200,000 killed in Haiti. Thurber attributes better construction of Chilean buildings compared to the third world island nation’s cities. Also he says the quake in Chile was deeper in the ground and occured largely off-shore.

Prof Thurber (:38)

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If you think more quakes have been happening recently, you’re not alone. Thurber hasn’t done mathematical calculations but is “confident” within the past 10 years, starting with the Sumatra quake, there has been more activity than the typical decade of the last century.

Chile is no stranger to this type of activity. Thurber says the world’s largest recorded earthquake occurred in the South American in 1960.

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