January 4, 2018 / 4:32 PM / 3 months ago

Chile registers more than 8,000 tremors in 2017 but no quakes

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile recorded more than 8,000 tremors in 2017, according to scientists at the University of Chile, though none reached the magnitude of an earthquake.

The university’s National Seismological Center said the number of tremors had reached 8,094 last year, a 26 percent increase over 2016. Of those, 352 were perceptible, while 7,742 were less than a magnitude of around 3, the center said in a statement.

Situated on the Pacific “ring of fire,” Chile runs along a seismic zone where tectonic plates rub up against each other. It is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world, and in 1960 was hit by a 9.5 magnitude quake, the strongest in recorded history.

National Seismological Center Director Sergio Barrientos attributed the spike to the country’s increased capacity for detecting even the most subtle and remote of tremors.

“Chile is one of the most seismically active countries on the planet, and these statistics come as a result of our increasingly robust monitoring network,” Barrientos said.

Chile is the world’s top copper producer, and many of its largest copper mines are located in an area of northern Chile known to be especially quake-prone.

In recent years, the biggest earthquake to hit Chile was an 8.8 magnitude tremor that struck the central-southern region in 2010, triggering a tsunami and killing more than 500 people.

Practice drills are frequent in Chile, and builders follow strict construction codes, all of which tend to limit death and destruction when tremors hit.

Reporting by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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