Published On: Sat, Apr 19th, 2014

Can Earthquakes affect the Yucatan Peninsula?

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A powerful earthquake shook Mexico on Friday April 18th at 9:27 am, damaging more than 100 homes in the southwestern state of Guerrero and opening cracks in some buildings but there were no reports of deaths.

Striking close to the popular beach resort of Acapulco, the 7.2 magnitude quake sent people scurrying out of homes and hotels, causing brief panic from the Pacific coast to states in central and eastern parts of Mexico.

At least 127, mostly adobe homes were damaged in Guerrero. In the state capital Chilpancingo, a tower of the cathedral suffered cracks along with a few other public buildings, a spokesman for local emergency services said.

But there were no reports of deaths or major damage.

With yesterday’s news of a powerful magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck 17 of the 32 states in the country of Mexico, shaking buildings in the capital and sending people running out into the street, one might wonder: What could happen in Yucatan with such a natural disaster?

This quake was centered in the southwestern state of Guerrero, close to the Pacific beach resort of Acapulco. A thousand miles away, the Yucatan Peninsula has no fault lines running beneath and no earthquake has ever been recorded here. But 200 miles south, the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault runs along an east-west line from Jamaica to the southern part of Haiti. An earthquake in the Caribbean Sea could create a tsunami that would rapidly reach the southern shores of the peninsula.

The Yucatan Peninsula is surrounded by earthquake zones, without itself being prone to tremors. The Gulf of Honduras has been hit, as has the eastern Gulf of Mexico off both Campeche and Mobile, Ala., where there are two intersecting fault lines. Land areas in Chiapas and Guatemala have suffered quakes. But not any place near Merida, which even still has a seismology station that is the product of a coordinated effort between UADY, UNAM and the state government. It detects earthquakes anywhere in the world.

Just to be sure, though, you’re free to bookmark the live Yucatan seismograph and check it from time to time.

1985 Earthquake still in the memory of Mexico City residents

Some people in Mexico City fled homes in panic when the quake hit on Friday 18th, 2014. Electricity was cut off in parts of the city and some residents said paintings fell off the walls, while small parts of masonry crumbled inside apartment buildings.

“I had to hold on to a tree, like if I was drunk,” said Pedro Hernandez, 68, a doorman working in central Mexico City.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said the earthquake’s epicenter was about 37 km (23 miles) north of the municipality of Tecpan de Galeana in Guerrero, and it struck at the relatively shallow depth of about 24 km (15 miles).

Lasting more than a minute, the quake was felt as far away as the states Puebla and Tlaxcala in central eastern Mexico.

It also caused some minor landslides and damaged a bridge on the road between Acapulco and the resort of Zihuatanejo to the northwest, emergency services in Guerrero said.

State oil giant Pemex said its refineries and other installations were operating normally after the tremors.

An employee of the Fairmont hotel in Acapulco, said the situation was calm and that guests quickly returned to the building after the quake struck on Friday morning.

The structure is fine,” the woman, who identified herself only as Ana, said by telephone.

Cesar Sanchez, 24, a student living in Chilpancingo, said he got a big shock when the quake started.

I was in bed, and some things fell that have never fallen. The dogs outside were barking and barking,” Sanchez said.

The devastating 8.1-magnitude earthquake in September 19th 1985 killed thousands of people in Mexico City. In March 2012, a 7.4 magnitude quake hit Mexico but did not cause major damage.

1985 Mexico Earthquake

1985 Mexico Earthquake

Earthquake History in the Yucatan Peninsula

The are no reports in history of an earthquake ever happening “on” the Yucatan Peninsula. However, a fault line named “Enriquillo-Plantain Garden” fault, (which runs along an east-west line, extending from Jamaica to the southern part of Haiti and the Caribbean Sea), is approximately 200 miles to the south.

The Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault is a strike-slip fault in which tectonic plates move horizontally in opposite directions, scraping against each other. If an earthquake did strike somewhere in the Caribbean Sea along this fault, it would create a tsunami and would reach the southern shores of the peninsula quite rapidly. (This is the fault line where the Haiti earthquake of 2010 happened.)

The possibility of an earthquake happening “on land” in the Yucatan is virtually impossible as there isn’t a fault line for this to happen. But there is one “Close by” and the Yucatan would get a little rattled if one did happen close to the Peninsula.

(From: http://www.boston.com/)

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