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Seismic zone concerns about earthquake-hit Mexico




Workers remove rocks from highways after an earthquake near Acapulco, a resort in the Pacific Ocean, Mexico.

A 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck southern Mexico this week near some of the faults that experts fear have increased tensions for more than a century.

A powerful earthquake near the Pacific city of Acapulco on Tuesday killed at least one person and damaged hospitals, homes, shops and hotels.

Mexico is located in the world’s most seismic and volcanic region known as the Ring of Fire, where the Pacific Plate meets its ocean. structural plate..

On September 19, 1985, an 8.1-magnitude earthquake devastated Mexico City, killing more than 10,000 people and destroying hundreds of buildings.

On the anniversary of the 2017 earthquake, the 7.1 earthquake killed about 370 people, most of them in the capital.

Where did the last earthquake happen?

The National Seismological Office said the quake’s epicenter was located 11 kilometers southeast of Acapulco in the city of Guerrero.

This area is prone to seismic activity because the Coco and North American structural plates rub together.

“The submerged Cocos plate is always trying to push under North America, the continental plate where most of Mexico’s land is,” said Arturoiglesias, head of the National Seismology Services.

Map of Mexico showing five skeletal plates.

Within this region is the so-called Guerrero hiatus. It is part of a fault that runs along the coast from Acapulco, 230 km northwest, to the city of Papanoa.

The US Geological Survey described the quake gap as part of a fault that has caused earthquakes in the past but is now quiet.

Why worry?

It is not possible to predict an earthquake, but it is cause for concern because the guerrilla gap has not caused a major earthquake since 1911.

“In an area off Guerrero, a big earthquake for a long time,” said Ana Maria Soler, an expert at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

“There is no certainty. These are all statistical issues,” she added.

It’s been 110 years since the guerrilla gap caused a major earthquake, Iglesias said.

“It usually happens every 30 to 50 years, which is actually a larger number,” he said.

Volcanic Ring of Fire region.

what would happen?

Experts are reluctant to make predictions, but they believe that large earthquakes, or some small earthquakes, could occur in the region.

“The northwest end of the gap was already broken by the 2014 earthquake, so the remainder of the earthquake has a magnitude of 7.8, but it could be a smaller one,” Iglesias said.

He said tremors in the area may occur less frequently than initially thought.

Mexico City, along with its surrounding urban areas, is home to more than 20 million people and is considered earthquake prone to the Guerrero Gap.

The capital is located at the bottom of a former lake and is equipped with an early warning system using seismographs to give residents plenty of time to evacuate the building.

“This area (the guerrilla gap) is known to have a great potential for earthquakes,” Iglesias said.

“There is even an early warning system in Mexico City,” he added.

A major earthquake in Mexico caused damage and killed one person

© 2021 AFP

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