7.8 Magnitude Earthquake In Ecuador & My First Ever Hotel Evacuation

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There were big earthquakes this week in Japan and just today 7.8 magnitude earthquake close to Muisne, Ecuador, that is 170 kilometers from Quito where I am.

Ecuador Quake

I have lived in the LA in the past and don’t ever remember experiencing earthquake. This has now changed. Basically the hotel here in Quito was shaking and I wasn’t sure how serious this was. Called the front desk and asked if this was usual. Was told no and to come down.

Soon they had alarm going on and people were using the emergency stairs to get down to the front of the hotel.

Ecuador Earthquke

Here’s what USGS wrote about this:

The April 16, 2016 M 7.8 earthquake, offshore of the west coast of northern Ecuador, occurred as the result of shallow thrust faulting on or near the plate boundary between the Nazca and Pacific plates. At the location of the earthquake, the Nazca plate subducts eastward beneath the South America plate at a velocity of 61 mm/yr. The location and mechanism of the earthquake are consistent with slip on the primary plate boundary interface, or megathrust, between these two major plates. Subduction along the Ecuador Trench to the west of Ecuador, and the Peru-Chile Trench further south, has led to uplift of the Andes mountain range and has produced some of the largest earthquakes in the world, including the largest earthquake on record, the 1960 M 9.5 earthquake in southern Chile.

While commonly plotted as points on maps, earthquakes of this size are more appropriately described as slip over a larger fault area. Events of the size of the April 16, 2016 earthquake are typically about 160×60 km in size (length x width).

Ecuador has a history of large subduction zone related earthquakes. Seven magnitude 7 or greater earthquakes have occurred within 250 km of this event since 1900. On May 14th, 1942, a M 7.8 earthquake occurred 43 km south of this April 16th, 2016 event. On January 31st, 1906 a M 8.3 earthquake (reportedly as large as M 8.8 in some sources) nucleated on the subduction zone interface 90 km to the northeast of the April 2016 event, and ruptured over a length of approximately 400-500 km, resulting in a damaging tsunami that caused in the region of 500-1,500 fatalities. The April 2016 earthquake is at the southern end of the approximate rupture area of the 1906 event. A shallow, upper crustal M 7.2 earthquake 240 km east of the April 2016 event on March 6th, 1987 resulted in approximately 1,000 fatalities.

Conclusion

Nobody knows if this was the shock or the preshock (remember what just happened in Japan). The Ecuadorian news channel is showing some structural damage to roads around Guayaquil from where I flew in to Quito earlier today.

I did come across plenty of earthquake damage when I was in Christchurch late last year five/six years after two big quakes there that pretty much totaled the downtown area. Some hotels were advertising their earthquake readiness.

Well. I guess that it is soon time for adult beverage or two here in Quito…

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