An 8.2 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Chile will “undoubtedly” generate a tsunami that will affect New Zealand, according to Professor James Goff, a tsunami scientist at the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New South Wales.
The US Geological Survey says the quake was centred 86 kilometres north-west of Iquique in northern Chile, where a tsunami warning has been issued. Alerts have also been issued for Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has said there is no danger for Australia or New Zealand.
“This is a magnitude 8.2 from around the eureka area, essentially this is the area where the 1868 tsunami came from. That event, which was a distantly generated event, was the largest one to have affected New Zealand, and also affected the East Australian coastline, such as Tasmania as well as the east coast around Sydney and parts of the south coast,” Goff said.
“The effect however isn’t as large as seen in New Zealand as it acts as a barrier for Australia.
“Today’s earthquake is smaller than the 1868 earthquake, which was an 8.5 and was also shallower, but it will still undoubtedly generate a tsunami that will affect New Zealand. But at the moment we’re just not sure of the size but it will not be large. It’s a delicate balance between the magnitude and the depth of the quake.
“We’re just not sure right now how big the tsunami will be. It’s a case of waiting to see the reports of wave heights around Chile and as it comes across the Pacific. We’re just watching and waiting.”
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