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Quito, Jan 16 (EFE) .- Some ninety earthquakes have been registered off the coast of the Ecuadorian province of Esmeraldas since last January 8, the director of the Geophysical Institute of the National Polytechnic School, Silvana Hidalgo, informed Efe this Saturday .
“What we are registering is a seismic swarm since January 8, and we have registered around ninety earthquakes, which are relatively shallow and have depths of 10-12 kilometers”, which is why people feel them despite the moderate magnitudes. Hidalgo said.
He added that “the system is complex. We are talking about a subduction zone that covers practically the entire coast of South America, and then, obviously, the geodynamics does not stop.”
“Earthquakes in this subduction zone will always be generated,” he said, noting that it is “difficult” to say, specifically, the reasons for this swarm.
The hypotheses include “a rearrangement of efforts in response to the Pedernales earthquake (2016), or it may simply be that the structure locally has to rearrange. However, it is difficult to say with certainty” the main reason why this swarm is produces, he stressed.
Next April will mark the fifth anniversary of one of the most destructive earthquakes in Ecuador’s recent history, of magnitude 7.8.
This natural phenomenon, which occurred on April 16, 2016, caused more than 670 deaths, thousands of people affected, as well as millions of material losses.
This earthquake hit with intensity the provinces of Esmeraldas (on the border with Colombia) and its neighbor Manabí, both located on the coast, but it also affected other areas and was strongly felt, even in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito, located in the province. from Pichincha, located in the Andean area of the country.
Hidalgo explained that the maximum earthquake registered in the swarm since January 8 took place on Friday, with a magnitude of 4.9.
According to the Geophysical Institute, in the last hours there have been four earthquakes between 3.75 and 4.26 degrees on the open Richter scale, all off the coast of Esmeraldas.
According to the source, at 08:38 local time (13:38 GMT) today an earthquake of 3.86 degrees was registered, at a depth of 7 kilometers, and 32.1 kilometers from Esmeraldas.
A 4.26-degree earthquake occurred at 05:55 local time (10:55 GMT) at a depth of 5 kilometers and 29.72 kilometers from the city of Esmeraldas, capital of the province of the same name.
Twelve minutes before that earthquake, another earthquake of magnitude 4.20 occurred 10 kilometers deep and 22.79 kilometers from Esmeraldas, and at 02:27 local time (07:27 GMT) there was another one, of magnitude 3.75, at a depth of 6.61 kilometers and 37.89 kilometers from Esmeraldas.
The swarm “is a reminder that we are in a seismic zone par excellence. We have had several earthquakes of magnitude greater than seven on the coastal margin,” said Hidalgo, noting that “we must permanently be prepared” for the occurrence of earthquakes.
“I cannot say that this is a premonitor of a major earthquake because it is something that science is not able to determine now. Most likely, according to experience we have with this swarm, it will last for several days, even for several more weeks, and that, once the system takes equilibrium, it returns to the previous stage and the earthquakes end, “he noted.
And although that “is the most probable” -he added- “we can never rule out that an earthquake of higher magnitude could occur in those sectors, they have already occurred, and it is normal that they occur because that is what happens in a subduction zone “.
RING OF FIRE
Ecuador is located in the Pacific Belt or Ring of Fire, which concentrates some of the most important subduction zones (collapse of tectonic plates) in the world and is the scene of strong seismic activity.
In addition to Ecuador, the Belt, which has a horseshoe shape, includes a large number of countries such as Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, United States and Canada.
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