The ESO Very Large Telescope atop Cerro Paranal in the Atacama desert region of Northern Chile (European Southern Observatory).
There are many international telescopes in Chile making use of the low humidity conditions in the Chilean mountains and high-altitude deserts. But as one of the most seismically active countries in the world, many of these observatories are built on shaky ground.
In the wake of the deadly 8.8 magnitude Chilean earthquake that hit the South American nation on Saturday, causing a tsunami to rush across the Pacific, how are these sensitive observatories protected from damage? The quake was reported as far away as 1,800 km from the epicenter, so there's little doubt that the Chile-based observatories would have felt it.
Among the international astronomical projects is the Gemini Observatory (South) at 2,700 meters (8,858 ft) elevation on Cerro Pachón (a mountain in the Chilean Andes) and the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) on Cerro Paranal, a 2,635 meter (8,645 ft) high mountain in the Atacama desert.
Gemini South is approximately 800 km (500 miles) north of the epicenter and the VLT is approximately 1,370 km (850 miles) north of the epicenter. Undoubtedly both locations would have experienced some seismic activity.