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North West Regional Group and the Liverpool Geological Society: Joint meeting on the 2010 Chilean earthquake

27 February 2020
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Event type:
Evening Meeting, Lecture, Regional Group
Organised by:
North West Regional Group
Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool
Event status:

Join the North West Regional Group of the Geological Society and the Liverpool Geological Society for this joint meeting on the 2010 Chilean earthquake.

Exploration for a sub-sea coal deposit and the impacts of the 2010 M8.8 earthquake, Chile

At 03:34:23 am (06:34:23 UTC) on 27 February 2010, central Chile was struck by a M8.8 earthquake. In total, 525 people lost their lives and 25 people were declared missing. The quake was so powerful that seismologists estimated it may have shortened the length of the day by 1.26 microseconds and moved the Earth’s axis by 2.7 milliarcseconds - about 8 cm.

Around the time of the earthquake, Iain Henrys was working in and around the cities of Arauco and Lota in the Bío Bío Region, leading the early stages of an exploration programme focused on evaluating the brownfield opportunities of the sub-sea coal deposits beneath the Gulf of Arauco.

Contractors were carrying out this bathymetric survey in the Gulf when the earthquake occurred. The survey vessel had to ride the subsequent tsunami. 

Due to circumstances encountered on the boat during the period of the quake, an echo sounder was switched on, which ended up inadvertently recording the waveform of the tsunami onto paper. This will be shown during the talk for the first time. 

The talk will also describe the geological and geophysical activities carried out before and after the main earthquake, which resulted in the identification of differential displacements of the sea floor across the Gulf of Arauco.

Anecdotes of the events and their effects following the earthquake on the exploration crew, local infrastructure and the general population will also be provided. There will also be a lesson on why, when living in earthquake-prone regions, one shouldn’t procrastinate when it comes to carrying out the weekly shopping!

The lecture will start promptly at 7.30pm.


Iain Henrys

Iain Henrys is a mineral exploration geologist with over 20 years’ experience in mineral exploration geology and geoscience. His commodity experience includes coal, gold and base metals. He has worked in the UK, West Africa, numerous South American countries, Indonesia, Iran and New Caledonia.

The 27 February 2020 date of the talk will be the 10th anniversary of the earthquake. The talk is dedicated to all of those who died or went missing as a result of the quake and especially to the late Luis Avilla, who provided invaluable assistance and friendship to Iain, his family and colleagues before and following the earthquake event.


Lecture Theatre 137
James Parsons Building
Liverpool John Moores University
Byrom Street
L3 3AF


For further information, please contact the group secretary, Catherine Kenny, via