January 19 Earthquake (updated)

Updated January 21, AM

Saturday night (January 19), at approximately 1030 PM local time, a strong earthquake occurred south of Coquimbo. At magnitude 6.7, this was significantly weaker than the September 2015 event that also affected SOAR, but due to its proximity the intensity in the La Serena/Coquimbo area and on the mountain was comparable.

Yesterday (Sunday, January 20) an emergency crew went to the site, after road access was cleared, to initiate the recovery process. Although progress was made, the evidence of strong accelerations led us to conclude the operation could not resume without inspection of the secondary mirror. This will be undertaken tomorrow, with other recovery steps in parallel.
This article will be updated as further information becomes available.

The picture below shows one corner of the boomlift installed on the observing floor; the marks indicate how much the 2015 event and this one have shifted it. The assembly weighs approximately 6 tons.

The movement after each event was approximately 15 cm.

As of this morning (Monday) the telescope seconday assembly has been inspected and verified to be OK, we are continuing to restore functionality to the telescope mount and the Goodman spectrograph.

Jay Elias, Director