A magnitude of 4.6 earthquake, centered in a mostly uninhabited area 16 miles east of Salinas, served as a reminder Thursday morning that Ecuador’s south coast is also vulnerable to major seismic events. No injuries or damage was reported from the quake that occurred at 10:25 a.m.
Following the devastating April 16, 7.8 earthquake centered north of Manta, Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute (IG) issued a warning to all coastal residents that no coastal communities are immune from major earthquakes. The warning was prompted by newspaper stories and advertisements aimed at real estate investors suggesting that the south coast was safe from large quakes.
The IG cited geological evidence that two south coast earthquakes in the 1700s may have been the strongest suffered anywhere in Ecuador within the last 1,000 years. In one case, the IG said a quake estimated to have been 8.5 to 9.0 magnitude, off-shore of Salinas, triggered a 15-meter high (48-foot) tsunami that over-washed most of the nearby shoreline. “No one living in present-day Salinas, and none of the structures, would have survived that event since the over-wash occurred within minutes of the earthquake.”
Meanwhile, coastal communities in Esmeraldas Province continue to feel aftershocks from Monday’s and Tuesday’s earth quakes. The latest toll stands at three deaths, 47 injuries, 11 structures collapsed, with about 100 more severely damaged.
Local officials say that the economic effects of the earthquakes, the largest measuring 5.7 magnitude, will also have an extreme impact on resort communities of the Province. The hotel association says that almost all reservations for the Christmas holidays in the area have been cancelled.
For more about coastal earthquake risk, click here.