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Is Brazil at Risk for Great Earthquakes?

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Today, as Chile faces the aftermath of the M8.8 earthquake which occurred off its coast at 3:34 a.m. local time, travelers might be wondering what Brazil's situation is in regard to similar earthquakes.

Although Brazil is not free from seismic events, it has a different geological situation from Chile and other South American countries where the risk of great earthquakes is higher. Open this Seismic Hazard Map for the continent's risk zones at a glance.

Why is Brazil's situation different?

Andrew Alden, About.com Guide to Geology, explains in Earthquakes in a Nutshell that "earthquake energy comes from the stresses of plate tectonics". As he said in his blog post today, Chile is affected by movement in the intersection of two tectonic plates: the Nazca and South American plates.

Today, Brazilian seismologist João Carlos Dourado from Universidade Estadual Paulista explained in an interview to G1 that Brazil is located at the center of the South American tectonic plate and therefore away from the stresses on the plate edges which cause earthquakes of that magnitude.

The earthquake in Chile could be felt in parts of Brazil last night. People experienced it in different ways, such as mild tremors in apartment buildings (which didn't cause any damage), hangers clicking in closets or water moving back and forth in a swimming pool in a complete absence of wind, according to Último Segundo.IG.com.br.

Help Chile:


Joanne Fritz, About.com Guide to Nonprofits, has a very useful post on How You Can Help Chile.

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