Mexico was hit with a massive 8.1 earthquake late Thursday night at 11:49 pm. This quake is the strongest to hit Mexico since the 8.1 magnitude quake quake that struck Las Primaveras over 85 years ago (www.earthquaketrack.com). The epicenter of the quake was about 51 miles from El Palmarcito- Earthquake Track reports. An 8.1 magnitude earthquake is at the top of the earthquake magnitude scale, which defines an earthquake of magnitude 8 or more as “great” and capable of total destruction in the areas nearest the epicenter (www.geo.mtu.edu). Approximately 50 million people throughout Mexico reportedly felt the strong earthquake, sending those present into shock (www.nytimes.com).
This devastating event has taken the lives of more than 32 individuals in Mexico thus far. Hundreds of buildings were destroyed in the midst of this quake and more than 1.8 million people were left without power. The governor of Chiapas, Manuel Velasco, spoke out about the damages done to schools and hospitals. Due to loss of electricity, there was a tragic loss of a young child’s life in a Tabasco hospital.
The devastation and loss of life caused by this earthquake is indescribably tragic. Although seismologists, scientists, and many others are aware of certain locations susceptibility to earthquakes- it is a fact that is often ignored. Earthquakes are a terrifying reality of areas located on or near a fault. Temblor reports that this earthquake “can be considered relatively surprising”, due to the fact that the Global Earthquake Activity Rate (GEAR) forecasted a likely 7.25 earthquake.
CoreLogic has created an earthquake risk analysis to estimate damages to both southern and northern California if “the big one” was to hit. The scenario describes a magnitude 8.3 earthquake situation- the impact of which is more extensive than once believed. It is expected that more than 3.5 million homes could be affected- which could cost an estimated $289 billion in repairs.
The uncertainty of when, where, and at what magnitude an earthquake can strike is the most unsettling part about earthquake forecasting. For example, we know that the San Andreas Fault is long overdue for a large earthquake- however we do not know when it is coming. Seismologists can speculate that it will occur within the next 30 years but the truth is that we do not know exactly when or where it will hit. With this in mind, proper preparation to combat the effects of an earthquake of this magnitude to the best of our ability are vital.