Identify this South American earthquake that was felt in the US & Canada
June 15, 2020 7:01 PM   Subscribe

An earthquake that occurred in South America in the 1990s was felt in the northern US and Canada -- because the quake was unusually deep, seismic waves had propagated through the Earth's mantle and surfaced thousands of miles away. I remember feeling a strong swaying motion in Minnesota and reading news reports about it affecting Ontario too, so maybe there was some interaction with the Canadian Shield? Where and when exactly was this earthquake? Bonus points for links to interesting articles or scientific papers about the event.
posted by theory to Science & Nature (6 answers total)
Best answer: I think it must be the 1994 Bolivia Earthquake
posted by aubilenon at 7:17 PM on June 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Confirming aubilenon's idea, here's a contemporary account from the LA Times:
A major earthquake rumbled through northern Bolivia on Wednesday and was reportedly felt as far away as Los Angeles and Toronto, the U.S. Geological Survey said.


Officials said the earthquake, which struck at 5:33 p.m. PDT, appeared to have been very deep, about 400 miles below Earth’s surface.

“The result was that people felt it all over North America, 5,000 miles away from the source,” Mori said.

He said earthquake waves travel much more efficiently from that depth, but he added, “we wouldn’t expect a lot of damage even near the source because it’s so deep.”
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:35 PM on June 15, 2020

Best answer: Huh! I think this must be the earthquake I remember as a child in Bolivia- 1994 puts me at the right age (5). I remember having just been put to bed (having been denied staying up to watch tv) and everything started shaking, and my parents came in and grabbed my sister and I and took us outside. I remember being concerned that we were outside without wearing shoes (it was a big rule for us because there were bugs that would bore into your feet) - of course my parents didn't put us down! We walked over to our neighbour's house I think and they told us they had stood in doorways. My parents I think thought immediate exit from an Adobe house was preferable!

This would have been my first earthquake.

Can confirm, lots of shaking, a few cracks but no major damage.
posted by freethefeet at 8:10 PM on June 15, 2020 [8 favorites]

(thanks for the trip down memory lane!)
posted by freethefeet at 8:24 PM on June 15, 2020

Absolutely legendary levels of eponystericality in that answer, just wow.
posted by saladin at 7:35 AM on June 16, 2020 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the firsthand account, freethefeet! Turns out my assumption that it was in a coastal country with a history of major quakes like Chile, Peru, or Ecuador was wrong. And apparently it's tied for the world's strongest earthquake of the 80s and 90s, but since the epicenter was fairly remote and the focus was so deep, there were minimal effects in that area.
posted by theory at 11:55 PM on June 16, 2020

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