What’s Happening in Mexico?
In case Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria weren’t enough, two earthquakes hit Mexico in the span of two weeks. The first earthquake took place in a Oaxaca, 275 miles south of Mexico City on September 7th, 2017 and had a magnitude of 8.2 (Harris). The second earthquake occurred on September 19th in Mexico City and had a magnitude of 7.1 (Harris). This is on the high end of the Richter scale, considering the highest earthquake ever recorded had a magnitude of 9.5 (Tsunami). The first earthquake killed 100 people and the second killed 200 with a total of 300 deaths. The earthquake that tore Mexico apart on September 19th coincidentally happened exactly 32 years to the day after the earthquake that struck in 1985, having an 8.1 magnitude and killed over 10,000 people (Harris).
Most of us have not lived through a natural disaster, because unlike many other places in the world, the Pacific Northwest isn’t a very natural disaster prone area. Being as lucky as we are, it might be hard for some of us to relate to how a victim, survivor, parent, or partner might feel in the midst of buildings crashing down and the overwhelming feeling of fear and uncertainty.
“There are moments when you feel like you’re breaking down. There are moments when your a little calmer… They are all moments that you wouldn’t wish on anyone,” said Patricia Fernandez Romero while she was waiting to hear whether her 27 year old son was alive or not (Associated).
The severity of the second earthquake that struck was worse than the first, even though it had a lesser magnitude. This is because Mexico City is built on what used to be a lake bed. This means that the soil is very soft so the foundation that the city is built on, when shaken, acts like jelly (Borenstien). When a city is built on soft soil it can exaggerate seismic waves in an earthquake.
“It’s like being built on jelly on top of something that is wobbling,” said James Jackson, a professor of physics at the University of Cambridge.
This is one of the reasons why there were more deaths in Mexico City then there were in Oaxaca. As a matter of fact, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles are all cities built on the similar kind of soft soil that Mexico is (Borenstien). This can be a huge factor in determining the severity of the natural disaster.