Earthquake swarm with magnitudes up to 6.0 near King George Island, Antarctica


Dozens of earthquakes have been registered just south of the King George Island, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica over the past 30 days, with magnitudes ranging from 4.7 to 6.0. Human habitation of King George Island is limited to research stations.

Over the past 30 days, the USGS has registered 40 earthquakes in the area, with the strongest M6.0 on November 6 at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles).

South Shetland Islands earthquakes 30 days to November 20, 2020. Data source: USGS. Credit: TW/SAM, Google

"At the Bellingshausen station, [there have been] tremors with a magnitude of 4.7 to 6.0, with their epicenter located at a distance of 40 to 50 km (25 to 31 miles) southeast of the station in the Bransfield Strait at depths in the Earth's crust from 1.5 to 10 km (1 to 6 miles)," Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute said Thursday, November 19, 2020.

According to the TASS news agency, Russian polar stations in the Antarctic are now conducting preparatory work under the program of the 66th Russian Antarctic expedition.

The Vostok station, in particular, has accomplished the work to prepare the runway 3 700 m (12 140 feet) long. The Progress and Mirny stations have also completed the work to put runways into operation. The Novolazarevskaya station is implementing emergency work to clean and restore the runway following a previous blizzard. 


The Bellingshausen Base. Image credit: Wikimedia

Human habitation of King George Island is limited to research stations belonging to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, South Korea, Peru, Poland, Russia, Uruguay, and the United States. 

Most of these stations are permanently staffed, carrying out research into areas as diverse as biology, ecology, geology, and paleontology. 

Base Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva, the Chilean Station on the Fildes Peninsula close to Bellingshausen, is operated as a permanent village with an airstrip, cafeterias for personnel of its several agencies there, a bank, a post office, and comfortable ranch-style family homes with children.

Featured image: South Shetland Islands earthquakes 30 days to November 20, 2020. Data source: USGS. Credit: TW/SAM, Google

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