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Gemini South/Chile Earthquake Update

28 Febrero 2010

The staff of Gemini Observatory extends its deepest sympathies to the families of those who suffered losses or are displaced due to the major magnitude 8.8 earthquake that struck southern Chile early Saturday morning, February 27, 2010.

Gemini was fortunate that there were no significant structural damages to any of our facilities. The earthquake disrupted observations on early Saturday morning for less than 30 minutes. Subsequent operations have been essentially normal with the exception of Internet connectivity. We are dealing with communications and minor power inconsistencies that should be solved once general Chilean infrastructure issues are resolved. The temblor struck about 700 kilometers south of Gemini South which is on Cerro Pachón.

Both of the Gemini telescopes are located in seismically active locations and on October 15, 2006 Gemini North experienced a major (magnitude 6.7) earthquake that inflicted significant damage to the telescope and related systems. In total 26 nights were lost due to damage from that event and it prompted a major initiative in emergency preparedness, which included workshops for astronomical facilities in both Chile and Hawai'i. Precautions now in place have made dealing with seismic events more routine at Gemini but large earthquakes are a major concern and the safety of our staff is at the core of all emergency preparedness.

Thank you to everyone who has expressed concern and please join Gemini in supporting the disaster relief efforts for those in need in Southern Chile.

We encourage the support of Chile earthquake relief efforts and while Gemini cannot endorse any organizations providing aid, the following page provides several options for making donations.


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