Chilean Earthquake Energy

This morning’s devastating earthquake in Chile (8.8 on the Richter scale) had an energy equivalent of approximately 15.8 gigatons of TNT (31,600,000,000,000 lbs). To put that in perspective, it is about as much energy as would be released by 300 of the largest thermonuclear bombs ever built (the USSR’s Tsar Bomba, detonated in Novaya Zemlya in 1961).

The largest earthquake ever recorded was the 9.5 magnitude 1960 Valdivia earthquake, also in Chile.

Just to put the Great Chilean Earthquake (an alternate name for the Valdivia quake) in its perspective, scientists estimate that the Yucatán Peninsula bolide (meteor) impact that created the Chicxulub crater 65 million years ago and led to mass extinction of the dinosaurs and other species had the energy of almost 600 Valdivia earthquakes.

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