Depending on the frequency of the seismic waves, the movement of the ground can feed energy into buildings of a certain height. … A magnitude 8.0 earthquake killed more than 9,500 people 32 years ago. A police officer runs toward the site where a building collapsed in Mexico City on September 19. It is not immediately clear whether Tuesday's earthquake was triggered by the earlier one or if it is unrelated -- usually aftershocks are not so distant in time. A woman's crushed body hangs from a collapsed building in Mexico City on September 19. Volunteers and rescue workers search for people trapped inside the Enrique Rebsamen school on September 20. Engineers who surveyed Mexico City reported little significant structural damage. People look for survivors in Mexico City on September 20. Powerful Earthquake Jolts Southern Mexico and Kills at Least 6 The 7.5-magnitude quake, centered on the Pacific Coast in the state of Oaxaca, damaged some structures and caused buildings to … Along the coast of Mexico, the Cocos Plate slides underneath the North American Plate, moving about three inches per year. But if you push at a consistent frequency, each push will send the child higher into the sky. The 1985 earthquake was the more typical great earthquake that breaks the boundary between the plates, and caused great devastation in Mexico City despite being more than 100 miles distant. Follow him on Twitter at @seismoguy. Initial reports are that the system worked Tuesday. Children's toys are seen in a damaged building in Mexico City on September 20. The earthquake resulted in around $3 billion to $4 billion in damage. The U.S. Geological Survey Mexico reported that Mexico held a long history of destructive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. A building is damaged in Mexico City on September 19. Vote Now! Updated 1429 GMT (2229 HKT) September 20, 2017. At least 200 people died, according to the Associated Press and other news outlets. Miles away in Mexico City the damage has been extensive we begin with ABC's bill Blakemore. When the damage was finally assessed, 3,000 buildings in Mexico City were demolished and another 100,000 suffered serious damage. In the history of Mexican earthquakes, Tuesday's was coincidentally the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 Michoacan earthquake, which resulted in thousands of deaths. Tuesday's earthquake took place on the anniversary of a devastating earthquake that killed thousands in Mexico City in 1985. If there is a silver lining to these destructive natural events, it’s that they present an opportunity for scientists to collect real world data in hopes of better understanding and coping with future disasters. However, this was not the cause of the most severe structural damage. This, as yesterday’s quake shows, causes them to sway—and eventually topple. There have been 34 earthquakes bigger than magnitude-7 within 300 miles of Tuesday's quake since 1900. “Think of pushing a kid on a swing,” Hough adds. A man comforts a student outside a school in Mexico City on September 19. “If you start pushing every 5 seconds, it will just mess things up.” That is, the pushes won’t have a cumulative effect. Mexican government officials are still tallying up the economic losses of the magnitude 7.1 earthquake that caused widespread damage in the capital, … Further, the tremors caused gas mains to break, causing fires and explosions throughout the city. 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Rescue workers search for survivors Thursday, September 21, at a collapsed apartment building in Mexico City. A similarly deep but much larger magnitude 8.1-earthquake struck two weeks ago, also from the crumpling of the Cocos Plate. Ironically, the US does not yet have such a system, but is trying to build one. The quake damaged the Jojutla Municipal Palace. “This disaster presents us with a major opportunity to learn and prevent a similar disaster from happening in the United States,” said the National Science Foundation's then-assistant director for engineering during a U.S. congressional briefing in the wake of the 1985 disaster. As these plates scrape against one another, tension builds until they reach a breaking point—which is when an earthquake strikes. One might assume that the Sept. 8 … In the aftermath of the earthquake, about 3,500 buildings had collapsed or were seriously damaged. Smithsonian Institution, (U.S. Geological Survey Department of the Interior/USGS/I.D. Overall, the slope stability issues caused by the 2017 Puebla-Mexico City earthquake were relatively minor compared with the reported structural damage . If the government continues to deem it worthwhile, the United States will also have an early warning system in a few years. "It's almost like a bathtub, the [seismic] waves will slosh back and forth," she says. “No one had designed for it, and that is why so many buildings failed.”. The cure for earthquake devastation is well known -- fix the old buildings and improve construction methods -- and too complex and expensive to accomplish in less than decades. Photos show the devastating impact of the deadly 7.1 magnitude earthquake that rattled Mexico City, killing more than 220 people The quake killed at least 220 people Time.com The 1985 Mexico City earthquake struck in the early morning of 19 September at 07:17:50 (CST) with a moment magnitude of 8.0 and a maximal Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent). This latest quake was centered on a region where the Cocos tectonic plate, which sits beneath the Pacific Ocean, is slowly being shoved beneath the continental North American plate. An injured person is carried away after being rescued in Mexico City on Tuesday, September 19. The event caused serious damage to the Greater Mexico Cityarea and the deaths of at least 5,000 people. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the epicenter of the earthquake took place in Raboso, Mexico—about 75 miles south of the capital city. A woman receives medical assistance after she was injured in Mexico City on September 19. Meantime Mexico's. A man is rescued under rubble in Mexico City's Condesa area on September 19. A survivor is pulled out of rubble in Mexico City on September 20. People sleep on the street next to damaged homes in Jojutla on September 20. Although there was severe damage in the coastal regions, the real disaster happened 220 miles away in Mexico City. Tuesday's earthquake, however, was caused by crumpling arising from the downward bending of the sinking Cocos Plate, rather than directly by slippage between plates. Rescue workers in Mexico City search for people trapped inside the collapsed Enrique Rebsamen school on September 19. Most of the damage was focused on the historic downtown area of Cuauhtémoc. A car is crushed by debris in Mexico City on September 19. The reason: Ancient sediments that underlie the city trap and magnify the vibrations that ripple through the region. This annual rite both honors the 10,000 people who lost their lives in that disaster and prepares the city’s current residents for the next natural disaster. Each year, Mexico City commemorates the anniversary of its devastating 1985 temblor by holding a series of evacuation tests. A magnitude 8.1 quake. Men carry beams of wood to offer help in Mexico City's Roma neighborhood on September 20. Mexico City’s lakebed geology also make it prone to an even more dramatic disaster: liquefaction. Emergency workers remove debris as they search for survivors in Mexico City on September 19. Celebi). Mexico City sits atop an ancient shallow lake, with soils made of sediments that washed in from the surrounding mountains thousands of years ago. Mexico has been learning how to deal with this problem the hard way. The shaking energy was generated at the earthquake's source, 30 miles deep, for just 20 seconds, but the waves reverberated for much longer, up to a minute or two, in the mountain and valleys. The September 19, 1985 earthquake caused con- siderable damage to modern construction in Mexico City, but only in those areas on the bed of an old lake because there the ground motion was considerably amplified (Beck and Hall, 1986). Though the Spanish later drained the surrounding waters to prevent frequent flooding, the effects of that decision can still be felt today. Its soil amplifies shaking like Jell-O on a plate, and is prone to liquefaction, which is the ability to transform dirt into a dense liquid when sufficiently churned. Tuesday’s magnitude 7.1 quake struck about 76 miles southeast of Mexico City, according to the US Geological Survey. Liquefaction worsened the impacts of the 1985 earthquake, undermining the foundation of many buildings. Further, the tremors caused gas mains to break, causing fires and explosions throughout the city. Families prepare to sleep under tarps outside their quake-damaged building in Mexico City on September 20. The death toll has been disputed, but about 5,000 bodies were … Tuesday’s earthquake, however, was caused by … Continue Recovery efforts take place at the collapse of a residential building in Mexico City on September 19. 7.) While it’s long been known that sediments can magnify tremors, researchers didn’t learn exactly how dramatic the effects could be until 1985. A deadly M 7.1 earthquake struck nearby Mexico City yesterday, leaving over 200 dead and countless missing. The temblor nearly flattened the distant Mexico City, yet left many cities close to the epicenter nearly unscathed. Additional damage occurred in Mexico City when adjacent 20 story buildings swayed enough to bump into one another. “The priority now is continue rescuing those who are still trapped and provide medical attention to the injured,” Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto said in a video statement, according to KTLA.com. In Mexico … Mexico City's downtown area is notoriously vulnerable to earthquakes because of the very soft and wet ground underneath. When the damage was finally assessed, 3,000 buildings in Mexico City … Coming off the heels of Mexico City's latest tragedy, however, the focus must be on the people of central Mexico. worsened the impacts of the 1985 earthquake, Caligula's Gardens, Long Hidden Beneath Italian Apartment Building, to Go on View, The 'Last' Female Swinhoe's Softshell Turtle Died in 2019. It gets worse. JUDY WOODRUFF: Yesterday's earthquake in Mexico was the second in less than two weeks and brought back memories of the terrible tremor that hit 30 years to the day yesterday. “Unfortunately many people have lost their lives, including girls and boys in schools, buildings and houses. Rescue workers remove rubble from a Mexico City building on September 19. Flash Report on Damage Caused in Mexico City, Mexico, by the 2017 Puebla-Morelos Earthquake Tsuneo OHSUMI Dr., Research Center for Reinforcement of Resilient Function, National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience (NIED), Tsukuba, … Two weeks ago, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake—the strongest in a century—jolted southern Mexico, killing nearly 100 people. Rescue workers and volunteers search a collapsed building in Mexico City on September 19. This holds true even if the epicenter of the quake is positioned far from the city’s boundaries, which was the case for both this latest earthquake (which originated nearly 100 miles southeast of Mexico City in the state of Puebla), and the 1985 earthquake (whose epicenter was some 200 miles from the capital). Though the fact that these quakes occurred on the same day 32 years apart is purely coincidence, their dramatic impact on the capital is not. The cause of this earthquake was the plate tectonics by crumpling arising from the downward bending of the sinking Cocos Plate, instead of moving directly by slippage between plates (Vidale). Shortly after noon on Tuesday, an earthquake violently shook the area around Mexico City, collapsing numerous buildings into dust, killing more than 100. This movement is causing extreme tensions as the slab is rammed into the Earth. The sequence of events included a foreshock of magnitude 5.2 that occurred the prior May, the main shock on 19 September, and two large aftershocks. Almost nine million people live in Mexico City. When soils are saturated with water, intense shaking can cause them to lose their solid structures and begin acting like a liquid—to the point that the ground can swallow up cars like quick sand. 17th Annual Photo Contest Finalists Announced. But when they roll into the soft sediments of a basin, the vibrations can become trapped, reverberating back and forth through the material, explains Susan Hough, a seismologist with the USGS. The greatest impact was in densely populated Mexico City, but the shaking was even more intense in Puebla, closer to the epicenter. Soldiers remove debris from a collapsed building in Mexico City on September 20. The earthquake happened on the anniversary of a 1985 quake that killed an estimated 9,500 people in and around Mexico City. "This [earthquake] taught us that soft soils can magnify motion to a degree never thought possible," University of California at Berkeley engineer Vitelmo Berto told the LA Times in 1986, a year after the disaster. Volunteers arrange food and other donated supplies at a distribution point in Mexico City on September 20. Mexico sits atop a complicated juncture of tectonic plates, which have been engaged in a slow-motion collision for over a million years. Other seismologists have likened these lakebed dynamics to a bowl of Jello. (CNN)Another deadly earthquake struck deep under Mexico. Mexico City, the country’s densely-populated capital, is even more susceptible to earthquakes than the rest of the country. This was also the cause of the 8.1-earthquake that hit Mexico two weeks ago. This was the second earthquake to hit Mexico in two weeks. Earthquake kills dozens in central Mexico, 5 things you should know about earthquakes, See 15 years of earthquakes in 45 seconds, Search for survivors after tsunami continues, Deadly tsunami hits Indonesian island of Sulawesi, Hundreds of hikers rescued after earthquake, Relatives of missing people wait for news in front of a collapsed building in Mexico City on Friday, September 22. People remove debris off a building that collapsed in Mexico City. The first of these occurred on 20 September with a magnitude of 7.5 and the sec… Tuesday's toll indicates there is yet more work to do. Get the best of Smithsonian magazine by email. A woman in Mexico City cries as she tries to reach people on her cell phone after the quake. Her work has appeared on National Geographic and AGU's Eos and Plainspoken Scientist. It struck Mexico 400 miles to the southeast and offshore, not far from Guatemala, and killed dozens of people. Hundreds more have shaken the thousands of miles that make up the country's coastline, many topping eight on the equivalent Richter scale. Rescuers in Mexico City work to save a child. Mexico City earthquake of 1985, also called Michoacán earthquake of 1985, severe earthquake that occurred on September 19, 1985, off the coast of the Mexican state of Michoacán, causing widespread death and injuries and catastrophic damage in Mexico’s … California Do Not Sell My Info Mexico shares your grief.”. Tuesday's earthquake was the 34th earthquake to strike Mexico City with a magnitude greater than 7.1, though smaller ones happen all the time. What many don’t realize is that there’s a simple reason behind this region’s propensity for cataclysms: The geology of Mexico—and particularly that of Mexico City—makes it a perfect storm for seismic catastrophe. The seismic waves that were taking down buildings were five times greater than waves outside the city, according to measurements taken during that event, reported the LA Times. “When seismic waves make a basin shake at one of these natural frequencies, significant amplification may occur.”. These latest quakes were caused by the movement of tectonic plates, the pieces of Earth’s crust that move and jostle against each other. REBECCA LAI SEPT. 23, 2017 A 7.1 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday killed more than … Volunteers organize donations in Mexico City on September 20. In the early 1300s, attracted by those fertile soils, the Aztecs selected an island in the lake on which to build their capital city, Tenochtitlan, which eventually became Mexico City. A magnitude 7.1 quake. The earthquake caused damage in the Mexican states of Puebla and Morelos and in the Greater Mexico City area, including the collapse of more than 40 buildings. In videos posted to Youtube and Twitter, many structures seemed to disintegrate under the vibrations. The US Geological Survey predicts up to … According to the U.S. Geological Survey, who tracks earthquake activity worldwide, over the last century there have been roughly 19 other earthquakes over 6.5 magnitude within just 155 miles of the epicenter of the latest quake. But yesterday, soon after business had resumed, central Mexico was rocked by a real—and deadly—7.1-magnitude earthquake. I want to express my condolences to those who lost a family member or a loved one. Terms of Use A religious statue is salvaged from a former convent that was heavily damaged in Tlayacapan, Mexico. This reverberation doesn’t just carry these waves further—it can actually amplify them. About 1000 buildings, mostly of masonry and rein- Keep up-to-date on: © 2021 Smithsonian Magazine. A woman in Mexico City reacts after the quake. People stand inside a Mexico City building that collapsed in the quake. As buildings began to sway, crowds poured into the streets. It produced strong motions felt by more than 12 million people, and noticeably swayed buildings in Mexico’s capital city, some of which collapsed. Patients from a Mexico City hospital receive treatment outside after the hospital was evacuated on September 19. A search goes on at the scene of a collapsed building in Mexico City's Del Valle neighborhood on September 19. “A basin will have natural frequencies, which depend on its shape and size, as well as the material properties of the sediments inside,” explains Jascha Polet, a geophysicist at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, via e-mail. At least 149 people have been reported dead after a devastating earthquake shook Mexico City and the surrounding areas, destroying buildings and sending residents scrambling to … or The earthquake caused landslides, rockslides, and sandblows, opened cracks in the ground and damaged or destroyed buildings. First came the 8.1-magnitude earthquake that struck offshore of Chiapas, Mexico, killing dozens and turning many buildings in the nearby region into rubble. Its entire Pacific coast is a large and fast moving (that is, moving as fast as fingernails grow-- speedy in plate tectonics terms) plate boundary, often suffering large and great earthquakes. By LARRY BUCHANAN, JASMINE C. LEE, SERGIO PEÇANHA and K.K. John Vidale, a seismologist, is a professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Southern California and director of the Southern California Earthquake Center. Cookie Policy A volunteer in Mexico City asks for silence as a flattened building is searched for survivors on September 20. KTLA- Damage Caused by 7.1 Earthquake in Mexico City. It was 30 years ago today that at least 5,000 people — some estimates put the number at closer to 10,000, others at four times that — died in the powerful Mexico City earthquake of 1985. (In local time, the earthquake struck a few minutes before midnight on Sept. Two weeks ago, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake—the strongest in a century —jolted southern Mexico, killing nearly 100 people. Give a Gift. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. While it is not yet known if this is a factor for the latest quake, “it would not be surprising,” says Polet. Maya Wei-Haas is the assistant editor for science and innovation at Smithsonian.com. Advertising Notice Some of additional damages were indirectly caused by the earthquake. "No one expected the intensities of motion that were recorded in Mexico City,” Berto said. Privacy Statement Plate tectonics was the engine behind the shaking, as is true for all major earthquakes. In the 1985 earthquake, many large buildings were destroyed, and Tuesday's quake was another blow mostly to the older, less solidly constructed structures. When earthquake tremors hit solid rock, the rock simply shakes. Rescuers and firefighters lower a corpse from a house in Mexico City on September 20. 10,000 people lost their lives, 30,000 were injured and thousands more were left homeless. Unfortunately, Tuesday’s temblor is just the latest chapter in Mexico’s long and tragic history of earthquakes. Until today, nobody really knows how many people perished as a result of the earthquake. That earthquake was an 8.0 magnitude and it caused extreme damage to Mexico City. Sides of building crumble after Mexican quake, trapped inside the Enrique Rebsamen elementary school, John Vidale: Mexico's earthquake caused by crumpling from the downward bending of the sinking Cocos Plate deep within earth, He says cure for devastation: make buildings earthquake proof. Mexico City is especially prone to severe damage because it is built on an ancient lakebed that amplifies the effect of earthquakes. Along the coast of Mexico, the Cocos Plate slides underneath the North American Plate, moving about three inches per year. Members of the Mexican Army nap September 20 after assisting in search-and-rescue missions in Mexico City. A wall is damaged at a home in Tlayacapan on Wednesday, September 20. As well, the tremors led to gas mains to break causing fires and explosions throughout Mexico City. Mexico City in chaos is what we saw when these first … On the anniversary of a deadly 8.0 quake that struck central Mexico in 1985, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit the same region, killing at least 200 people, destroying dozens of buildings and leaving millions without power. The sudden release of energy causes seismic waves to radiate out from the epicenter. Less than 15 minutes after the quake, thousands of people in the capital lay dead and the Mexican economy was shattered for years to come. 370 people were killed by the earthquake and related building collapses, including 228 in Mexico City, and more than 6,000 were injured. The latest earthquake caused more damage because it … A man walks his bike past a partially collapsed building in Jojutla on September 20. People react in Mexico City just after the quake hit. People gather on a Mexico City street after office buildings were evacuated because of the quake. 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