Monday, May 24, 2010

all shook up

My National Geographic subscription caught up with me this week. 

This month's The Big Idea section is an article on the world's earthquake hazard zones.  The recent earthquakes in Chile and Haiti have called the world's attention to building materials and development.

All of that is very interesting.  But what caught my attention was the map that graphically displayed the most hazardous areas for earthquakes. 

I love maps.

As interesting as hazard areas in the Himalayas may be, I wanted to know how dangerous my small fishing village by the sea may be.  But the world map scale was simply too big.

The internet came to the rescue.  Even though it looks like an isobar weather map, the map at the top of this post shows the hazard risks for Mexico.

I already knew my beach town is not very stable.  I receive several email each day about Mexico news stories.  There are almost always at least two earthquake reports -- including
the 4 April 2010 earthquake in Mexicali and Baja California with a magnitude of 7.2.  (The Haiti earthquake was 7.0.) .

And there is experience.  During the past year, I felt at least six earthquake tremors in Melaque.  Nothing big.  Just a distinct swaying.  Tango dancers resolving their steps.

My first reaction in looking at the map was relief.  After all, that nasty red gash that runs through the mountains on Mexico's Pacific coast is some distance from my place. 

Unfortunately, red is not the highest risk.  Dark brown is.  And that is the color that surrounds my town.

If I am reading the graph correctly, that simply means there will be a major earthquake in my area during the next 50 years.  Of course, the same is true for Salem.

So, what do I do?

Not much more than I was going to do before I read the article.  I live in a well-constructed house with plenty of outdoor space.

Should I have an emergency food supply in my Mexican house?  You bet.  But that would be true for possible electricity failures and hurricanes.  With or without earthquakes.

What it will not do is keep me away from Mexico.  After all, it just adds another element to the adventure of living in Mexico.



Calypso said...

I can deal with the yellow zone - come and visit ;-)

Anonymous said...

I experienced one minor tremor in Puerto Vallarta while on vacation one year. After living in Michigan all my life, it was an eye opener. It would never keep me away from Mexico.

Steve Cotton said...

Calypso -- A visit is a good ide.

Francisco -- I have experienced enough tremors in the Pacific Northwest to know earthquakes are just a fct of life. Not to mention volcanoes.

Jonna said...

I think I'm done with earthquakes, been through many pretty large ones and now I'm happy to just track hurricanes. Love that big white area in the Yucatan!

Islagringo said...

Having lived in an area prone to tornadoes, I much prefer my relative safe hurricane zone. At least we know when it is coming.

As you know, it is always advisable to keep canned goods and extra water on hand at all times.

Steve Cotton said...

Jonna -- Maybe that big white area is just the eye of a storm.

Anonymous said...

If I read the map right - seems that one of the "safest" options in Mexico is to become one of Babs neighbors. This suggestion come from a dude that went through the van Nuys and the loma Prieta shakes in California, then moved to Miami just in time for Andrew, then caught Fran & Bertha here in NC.. Sheesh! Other than the occasional monsoon in SMA, I can't think of a better place for avoiding the Rock & roll shows Moma Nature puts on!
Dan in NC

Steve Cotton said...

Dan -- I suspect SMA has tremors of a different variety. I know what you mean about moving to disasters. Every time I look at the smoking volcano outside of Colima, I remember our St. Helens experience. My Mexican neighbors may want me to simply move on.

Anonymous said...

Well you certainly are timely. There was a very shallow quake in the "Fall City" area east of Seattle. That of course led the newcasters into a frenzy. On the coast from Newport OR to the south and similarly in WA on the coast are fault lines. Sometime in the next 50 years we will "hit the big one."
At least when I grew up in CA we practiced "drop,cover, and hold." Not so much in WA.

Anonymous said...

As a native Californian, I am generally unfazed by earthquakes. But I'm also aware of the dangers.

If I ever move to Mexico, I will be sure to live in a place that has plenty of rebar in the walls, and I plan to buy a metal detector to verify this.

If you look at the worst destruction from the earthquake in China, there's not a scrap of rebar in sight in any of those pictures. Builders were too cheap to put it in.

That strikes me as something that could happen in Mexico too, especially in a smaller town.


Kim G
Boston, Ma
Where, because it was so cheap, we are likely the only person with earthquake insurance on their house.

Steve Cotton said...

Anonymous -- And I missed it. Didn't feel a thing.

Kim -- I often wonder how well-built my rental is. It was built by Dutch Canadians. The stereotypes vie with one another: thrifty or safety. I have no idea what the answer is. I guess I will find out when Melaque gets hit with another big earthquake.