For a long time, the idea that earthquakes don’t happen in Brazil has been propagated. This consensus comes from the fact that earthquakes in Brazil do not have the intensity of those that occur in other countries, such as Japan and the United States, and they rarely cause significant damage, but in-depth studies have shown that this is not true.
To understand earthquakes and their occurrence in Brazil, it is necessary to understand what are called geological faults (also known as faults). tectonic faults), structures of the planet’s crust that cause earthquakes. Recently, one of them caught the attention of scientists by releasing a very strange liquid.
There are such geological formations in Brazil, and Many cities in the country are on top of themAccording to recent geological studies. The big difference is that Brazil lies practically at the center of the South American tectonic plate, which makes the possibility of strong tremors, usually recorded at the edges of these continental-sized plates, rare.
However, even a plate as solid as ours has drawbacks – The majority is visible from the surface.
The research by the UFMG Institute of Geosciences (Federal University of Minas Gerais) identified 48 major geological faults in the national territory, “some of them kilometers long,” according to Professor Alaa El Saadi, coordinator of the research published in 2002.
According to the scientist, most of the faults are located in the southeast and northeast of the national territory. Even with such maps, it is virtually impossible to predict where earthquakes will occur, or what their intensity will be, but it is safe to say that it is in these areas of the country that the epicenter will be.
Below, we list seven Brazilian cities located exactly above geological faults, in different regions of the country’s territory. However, the location does not mean that the inhabitants should be afraid, because some of these faults have not shown much activity for thousands of years.
1 – Joao Camara (RN)
The city of Joao Camara is located on the Samambaya Fault and has already recorded several earthquakes. In August 2022, nine earthquakes were felt in the city by residents.
According to UFRN (Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte), the Samambaya fault is the largest of its kind in Brazil, measuring 38 kilometers long, 4 kilometers wide, and 1 to 9 kilometers deep.
In addition to João Camara, the cities of Parasíno, Pocho Branco, and Pinto Fernández are located on the fault, which constantly records earthquakes.
2 – Itacarambi (MG)
Minas Gerais is the Brazilian state that records more seismic activity. According to the tectonic map prepared by Professor Al Saadi, seven geological faults cross the state (namely: BR 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 47).
47 is located in the north of the state, just below the municipality of Itacarambi, which recorded an earthquake of magnitude 4.9 on the Richter scale in December 2007.
Six people were injured and a 5-year-old girl died in the geological event.
3 – Copatao (SP)
The Cubatão fault, discovered in 1987 off the coast of São Paulo, is part of a system more than 2,000 kilometers long, with a network of various faults, which has been named the Cubatão fault system.
Despite its size and being less of an industrial area, research has indicated a low risk of possible imminent earthquakes in this system—and the structure has been shown to be active between 400 and 10,000 years ago, according to studies.
4 – Borangato (GO)
The municipality of Borangato, in northern Goiás, is another city on top of a Brazilian geological fault, which takes the name of the city (Zona de Valhas de Borangato). In April 2022, a 3.7-magnitude earthquake caused panic overnight.
On other occasions, more intense tremors have been felt in Goiânia and even Brasilia, such as the one in October 2010.
5 – Tarawaka (AC)
This city in Acre is located near the epicenter of the largest earthquake ever recorded in Brazil – 6.5 on the Richter scale, in June 2022. Tarawaca is also the municipality in the state with the highest number of earthquakes. All because it is located on top of the Taruacá Fault, which divides the country into two parts.
Despite the constant shocks in the area, it is more than 500 km deep, which reduces the risk of damage and being noticed by the population. In 2015 alone, the year in which full studies were conducted in the area, more than 15 earthquakes were felt by the city.
It also helps that the city is close to two very active tectonic plates: the South American and Nazcar, both in the Andes.
6 – Jaguareb Valley (CE)
A large geological fault under the city of Ceará, 300 km from Fortaleza, generates earthquakes considered to be of low strength. Some of the most recent occurred in March 2016, with a magnitude of 3.1 and 3.4 on the Richter scale.
The researchers suspect that the waters of a dam in the area, which penetrated the fault, may increase the number of earthquakes.
7 – Curitiba (PR)
The South region has the fewest number of faults in Brazil. Despite this data, Curitiba is the only capital in Brazil directly above a geological fault – the same fault that crosses Copatao.
However, it is common for cities around the capital, Paraná, to experience earthquakes. São Jerónimo da Serra, 351 km from Curitiba, suffered a 5.1-magnitude earthquake in September 2017.
Other data shows that between 2006 and 2019 the state recorded seven earthquakes of extreme magnitude.
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