Home Expat Blogs Devastating Earthquakes Remind Us Mexico Is Earthquake Country

Devastating Earthquakes Remind Us Mexico Is Earthquake Country

Emergency checklist
Credit: i_frontier | Thinkstock

The devastating earthquake yesterday in the states of Puebla and Morelos that also caused major loss of life and destruction in Mexico City, and the earlier monumental 8.1 earthquake centered mainly in the southern Mexico states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, remind us Mexico is earthquake country.

I know about earthquakes. My home rocked and rolled in 1989 during the Bay Area’s Loma Prieta earthquake, a 6.9 quake whose epicenter was less than 20 miles away. I had minor damage, including a damaged fireplace, but more importantly, I remember the fear we felt when the earth began moving and seemed to violently shake for minutes, although it was less than 30 seconds.

The so-called “Ring of Fire”, which lines the basin of the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to the tip of South America to New Zealand and up the east coast of Asia to Russia, is a very active earthquake zone. Two of the largest earthquakes in modern history occurred in the 20th century: A magnitude 9.2 centered in Alaska in 1964 and an astounding 9.5 magnitude quake in Chile in 1960.

The earthquake in southern Mexico nearly two weeks ago that registered 8.1 on the Richter scale – the largest quake in over a century – has claimed more than 100 lives and destroyed thousands of homes and buildings.

But Mother Nature was not yet through with Mexico. Yesterday, the earth erupted once again as a 7.1 quake took well over 200 lives so far and reduced many buildings in Mexico City and elsewhere to rubble. The latest quake to strike Mexico City came on the anniversary of that city’s devastating 8.0 earthquake in 1985 that killed over 4,000 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.

Mexico has a long history of very destructive earthquakes, as well as volcanic eruptions, mainly because it sits on top of three of the large tectonic plates that lie under the earth’s surface. Mexico is one of the most seismologically active regions on earth.

The country has experienced well over 70 major earthquakes since the latter part of the 18th century, occurring mainly in Baja California, the mainland’s west coast, southern Mexico and central Mexico. The largest ever-recorded in Mexico – an 8.6 monster – leveled the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Mexico in 1787.

One thing is certain. If you live in Mexico, you may experience an earthquake and it may be very bad. Be prepared with a survival kit that will help you make it through the first few days after a major quake.

If you would like to make a donation to help those who are impacted by the earthquakes in Mexico, here are a few links to organizations that have been thoroughly vetted: Red Cross of Mexico, Alimento Para Todos, Hábitat para la Humanidad México and Save the Children én México.