Haiti Quake Maybe Just a Prelude

Shake Map courtesy USGS

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The tragic intersection between poverty and nature that rent Haiti yesterday may not be the end of its seismic troubles. Science Now reports that yesterday’s 7.0 temblor ruptured only a part of the same segment that 240 years ago unleashed a 7.5 quake—20 times more powerful than yesterday’s.

Worse, the potential for even greater destruction exists. In 1751, a magnitude 8.0—32 times yesterday’s quake—struck farther along the same fault system off the southern shore of the island of Hispaniola that Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic. A couple of months after that a magnitude 7.5 occurred nearby. Plus a separate active fault crosses through the north coast of the island.

Scientists are concerned the long-sleeping Caribbean has now been awakened.

Add to that the fact that Port-au-Prince is built on unstable sediments not bedrock and that the city lacks any kind of building code and you have a recipe for repeat disasters, and then some.

So can we at least try to include along with the “massive aid racing” to Haiti some sober planning… maybe a “building code” to alleviate the failed state in our own hemipshere? How about some genuine long-term help to heal the bones of that country? Does Wyclef have to do it all?
 

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