Sunday, 13 September 2009

Earthquake in Venezuela

Yesterday there was an earthquake of magnitude 6.4 in the Northern part of Venezuela, just a few kilometres offshore on the central coast. There was quite some damage of buildings specially in Falcón and the Northern part of Carabobo and some people were wounded. Fortunately, there seems to be no dead. The chaos was particularly big as it was raining cats and dogs or rather, hail.

In general Venezuela goes through quite some earthquakes due to the tectonic activity in the Northern Venezuelan plate margin. The same forces that make those beautiful green mountains rise up just next to the blue Caribbean sea create the geological instability of the region. The earthquakes are not as strong as in other places along the Andes proper or other major tectonic regions, but they still can be powerful and they have had important historical repercutions as in 1541 and 1812. After the big 1967 earthquakeVenezuelan buildings have been generally built using anti-seismic technology (quite remarkable in spite of our chaos), so we have been spared worse catastrophes. The big problem in Venezuela is the construction of slums in mountaineous regions. That and profound governmental irresponsibility caused the thousands of dead in 1999.

The Rapid Earthquake Viewer showed this:

Here you see the ruins of Nueva Cádiz, on the Cubagua island. This was one of the first Spanish settlements in the Americas and it was abandoned after the 1541 earthquake.

UPDATE: For the incredible politics around the earthquake go here to read Miguel's post.

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