Haiti's earthquake occurred along the same fault line as that of 2010

The earthquake that struck Haiti Saturday morning hit the same fault system that devastated the capital, Port-au-Prince, in January 201...


The earthquake that struck Haiti Saturday morning hit the same fault system that devastated the capital, Port-au-Prince, in January 2010. And the previous earthquake almost certainly made this one more likely.

The two earthquakes struck an east-west fault line at the convergence of two tectonic plates, large segments of the earth’s crust that slowly move relative to each other. At this fault line, called the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone, the Caribbean Plate and the North American Plate move sideways, or side by side, at a rate of about a quarter of an inch per year.

The 2010 earthquake was centered about 30 miles west of Port-au-Prince. Saturday’s earthquake occurred about 50 miles further west.

Susan E. Hough, a United States Geological Survey seismologist who studied the 2010 earthquake, said there was no doubt it and Saturday’s were linked.

“It’s well established that you have this concept of a domino,” she said, where the energy released by an earthquake changes stress patterns elsewhere along the fault line. “But we don’t have a crystal ball that tells us which domino is going to fall next.”

Dr Hough said seismologists were concerned about an area of ​​the fault zone to the east, closer to the 2010 rupture site. “Now we have seen the segment to the west rupture.” , she said.

She said the fault ruptured both vertically and laterally. Preliminary analyzes suggested that the fault ruptured to the west, which would mean that most of the energy was directed away from Port-au-Prince and into the less populated region along the Peninsula de Tiburon. If so, then most of the aftershocks that inevitably follow a large earthquake would likely occur in the west as well.

“As all could be good news for Haiti, these are good signs,” said Dr Hough.

With a magnitude of 7.2, Saturday’s quake released about twice as much energy as that of 2010, which was a magnitude 7.0 quake. This earthquake killed some 300,000 people. Jerry Chandler, head of Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency, told a press conference on Sunday that the latest earthquake killed at least 724 people.

The damage and casualties of earthquakes depend on many factors in addition to the magnitude. The depth and location of the rupture, the time it occurred, and the quality of construction can all play a major role. In the 2010 earthquake, poor quality construction – especially poorly constructed masonry buildings – were responsible for many deaths and injuries.

The fault zone extends west to Jamaica, which is also at risk of major earthquakes. In addition to the 2010 earthquake, the fault zone was most likely the source of four major earthquakes in the 18th and 19th centuries, including those that razed Port-au-Prince in 1751 and again in 1770.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Haiti's earthquake occurred along the same fault line as that of 2010
Haiti's earthquake occurred along the same fault line as that of 2010
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