Guatemala Earthquake Of 1976 Essay

2445 words - 10 pages

Table of Contents

Executive Summary 2
1.0 Disaster Location 3
2.0 Disaster Drivers 4
3.0 Disaster Context 4
4.0 Hazard Magnitude and Frequency 6
5.0 Lesson of Precedent 7
6.0 Impact of Human Activity 8
7.0 Magnitude of Losses 9
8.0 Mitigation and Future Recommendations 10
Works Cited 11

Executive Summary

Guatemala is a country that is very prone to natural disasters. It is a developing nation with many areas that must be addressed in order to take proactive measures, for disasters that may occur in the future. The following report will provide an in depth analysis of the Guatemala earthquake of February 4, 1976. This earthquake resulted in an estimated 23000 deaths, 76000 injuries, and over $1,100,000,000 in economic losses. This report will cover the disaster’s location, drivers, specific details related to magnitude, human activities, historically related information, and recommendations as well. There are many aspects of the Guatemala earthquake of 1976 that can be used when preparing for, and mitigating natural disasters that may occur in the future.

1.0 Disaster Location

Guatemala is a Central American country and is a nation that is very prone to major disasters. The country borders the North Pacific Ocean and is located between El Salvador and Mexico. The country also borders the Caribbean Sea between Honduras and Belize. Its geographic coordinates are 15.30 N, 90.15 W. The country of Guatemala has a total area of 108,889 sq km and its coastline is approximately 400km long (CIA, 2014).
The Guatemala earthquake of February 4, 1976 originated in the Motagua Fault and its epicenter was about 48 km southwest of Guatemala City. The tectonic plates involved in this disaster were the Cocos-North American plates, in which are located at N 15.32, W 89.1. In 1976, Guatemala had a population of about 5.5 million. The country’s capital city, Guatemala City, had a population that was about ten times higher than that of any other city in the country (Person et al, 1976). The figures below show a Google Earth Image of Guatemala City and the Motogua Fault, located at coordinates N 15.32, W 89.1 and the surrounding plate tectonics.

2.0 Disaster Drivers

Guatemala is a nation that contains three major earthquake-generating zones. The first zone is the Beniof zone, which is northeast of Guatemala and is a result of the Cocos plate thrusting beneath the Caribbean plate. This zone is attributed to the highest level of seismicity. The second zone is located along a chain of active volcanoes. The third zone contains the fault system that bisects Guatemala from east to west. It is within this third zone where the Guatemala earthquake had occurred (USGS, 2014).
The Motagua fault zone is the primary source of energy for the widespread destruction, which is the boundary between the North American and Caribbean plate. This...

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