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For 1,000 years, hunter-gatherers in Chile were kept inland by a megathrust earthquake and tsunami that struck 3,800 years ago.

A multinational team of academics has discovered evidence of a 3,800-year-old megathrust earthquake off the coast of Chile. The team reveals evidence of the accompanying tsunami and its influence on people living in the area at the time in an article published in the journal Science Advances. In 1966, the ground in southern Chile was shaken by a huge earthquake.

The earthquake measured 9.5 on the Richter scale, making it the most powerful earthquake ever recorded. Researchers have discovered evidence of an equally powerful earthquake occurring in about the same place approximately 3,800 years ago, which resulted in a tremendous wave that wreaked havoc on the early hunter-gatherers living along the coast.

The researchers dug through layers of earth in the Atacama Desert in search of tsunami-related detritus. Shells and charcoal fragments in the sediment were radiocarbon dated and found to be from around 3,800 years ago. The tsunami was so large that it left a 1,000-mile trail of wreckage and drove seawater up to 15 to 20 meters above sea level.

The Nazca oceanic plate is steadily being pushed beneath the South American continental plate, resulting in a lot of earthquakes along Chile's coast. Megathrust earthquakes are very large earthquakes that occur from time to time. Plate activity is also to blame for the Andes Mountains' formation and volcanic activity.

The researchers also discovered signs of population movements in the aftermath of the tsunami, with individuals moving inland and to higher ground. Evidence of people relocating their burial places was also discovered. The researchers discovered that people did not return to the shore for almost a thousand years, and even then, they appeared to be wary of getting too close to the water. Researchers say they haven't uncovered any proof of how the tsunami's memory could have lasted so long among a people who didn't have access to written language. They also believe that their findings could help with current safety plans for residents in the area.

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