Mexico’s Seismic History
With such a tectonic setting and with such significant forces at work, it is unsurprising that Mexico’s coastal regions have experienced many significant earthquakes and, as a result, sustained significant damage. Although it is not as earthquake-prone as certain other subduction zones (most notably that of Java and Sumatra) the USGS historic earthquake lists show that the country experienced 16 tremors greater than M7 between 1887 and 2010.
The largest of these major quakes was an M8.1 which struck in 1932, although the most notorious is the M8.0 of 1985. Like most of the other of the country’s earthquakes, this shaker had an epicentre in the coastal region, but caused damage across a wide area, including, most notably, Mexico City, where intense shaking was felt as a result of the amplification of the shock waves through the former lake sediments beneath it. This earthquake killed at least 9,000 people and possibly as many as 35,000.
BBC News. Mexico hit by strong earthquake near Acapulco. (2012). Accessed March 21, 2012.
US Geological Survey. Historic earthquakes list. Accessed March 21, 2012.
US Geological Survey. Recent earthquakes list Magnitude 7.4 – Oaxaca, Mexico. (2012). Accessed March 21, 2012.
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