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Archaeologists have found evidence of the largest known earthquake in human history — a terrifying magnitude-9.5 megaquake that caused a 5,000-mile-long (8,000 kilometers) tsunami and prompted human populations to abandon nearby coastlines for 1,000 years, a new study finds.

The earthquake struck about 3,800 years ago in what is now northern Chile when a tectonic plate rupture lifted the region’s coastline. The subsequent tsunami was so powerful, it created waves as high as 66 feet (20 meters) and traveled all the way to New Zealand, where it hurled car-size boulders hundreds of miles inland, the researchers found. 

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