Killer quake struck just below the surface

Jan 13, 2010
A body lies amid rubble in Port-au-Prince after the huge earthquake rocked the impoverished Caribbean nation. The quake that struck Haiti erupted just below the surface on a notorious fault where two plates of the Earth's crust jostle and grind, scientists said.

The quake that struck Haiti erupted just below the surface on a notorious fault where two plates of the Earth's crust jostle and grind, scientists said.

"It was a very shallow , occurring at a depth of around 10 kilometers (6.2 miles)," seismologist Yann Kinger of the Institute of the Physics of the Globe (IPG) in Paris told AFP.

"Because the shock was so big and occurred at such a shallow depth, just below the city (of Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital), the damage is bound to be very extensive," he said.

The US Geological Survey said on its website that the quake, which measured a very powerful 7.0 magnitude, occurred at 2153 GMT on Tuesday 15 kms (9.4 miles) southwest of Port-au-Prince at a depth of around 8.3 kms (5.2 miles).

The movement was horizontal, occurring on the northern rim of the Caribbean plate where it rubs with the North American plate, the experts said.

"This fault is well known, it had been mapped and researchers have been following it," said Kinger.

He added that the death toll in Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, would most probably be amplified by shoddy buildings and poorly-equipped emergency services.

"The buildings are likely to be very flimsy and not necessary of a very high quality. In addition, first responders may not be as effective as they are in , for instance," he said.

Many of Haiti's oldest buildings, including the presidential palace, were destroyed in the .


Explore further: Climate change may flatten famed surfing waves

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New Sumatra quake takes seismologists by surprise

Oct 01, 2009

The huge earthquake that hit Sumatra occurred at a deep, unexpected location, illustrating the dangerously complex geological mosaic in this area, a seismologist told AFP on Thursday.

Major Pacific earthquake prompts tsunami warning

Mar 20, 2009

A major 7.9-magnitude earthquake has shaken the South Pacific nation of Tonga and sending people in low lying areas of Fiji fleeing for higher ground after a tsunami warning, according to officials.

Tokyo quake fault line is re-evaluated

Jul 15, 2005

A new survey suggests the fault line beneath Tokyo is miles closer to the surface than seismologists realized, Nature.com reported Thursday.

Mountain spine is a quake hotspot

Apr 06, 2009

Scientists said a killer earthquake that struck central Italy on Monday occurred in a notorious trouble spot and warned further powerful shocks in the coming months could not be ruled out.

Recommended for you

Africa, from a CATS point of view

3 hours ago

From Saharan dust storms to icy clouds to smoke on the opposite side of the continent, the first image from NASA's newest cloud- and aerosol-measuring instrument provides a profile of the atmosphere above ...

Climate change may flatten famed surfing waves

Feb 25, 2015

On a summer day in 1885, three Hawaiian princes surfed at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River on crudely constructed boards made from coastal redwoods, bringing the sport to the North American mainland.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.