Powerful earthquakes in the past week have hit three different countries — Ecuador, Japan and Myanmar — but seismic experts say the timing of the quakes in disparate parts of the globe is an unfortunate coincidence.
The coastal region of Ecuador was shaken by a massive magnitude-7.8 earthquake late Saturday, followed by more than 130 aftershocks, that killed more than 230 and injured 1,500, according to government officials.
Southwestern Japan felt two powerful earthquakes a little more than 24 hours apart, killing at least 41 people, with 11 others still missing Sunday. The two quakes struck Kumamoto prefecture on the island of Kyushu, a magnitude-6.2 late Thursday night, followed by a magnitude-7.0 earthquake early Saturday.
Those deadly earthquakes came after a magnitude-6.9 earthquake struck Wednesday in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. That quake did not cause any reported deaths, but dozens of people were injured in neighboring Bangladesh.
“As far as we can tell, these earthquakes aren’t related,” said John Vidale, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network at the University of Washington. “We’ve had plenty of much bigger earthquakes that still don’t trigger earthquakes far away. It’s fairly clear that it’s just a coincidence.”
Ecuador is one of the most highly seismic regions in the world, located on what is known as the Pacific Ocean’s active “Ring of Fire.”
David Rothery, a professor of planetary geosciences at The Open University, northeast of London, told the Associated Press that the total energy released by Saturday’s magnitude-7.8 quake in Ecuador was “probably about 20 times greater” than the magnitude-7.0 quake in Japan early Saturday.
The Ecuador earthquake began deeper underground than the recent Japan quake, which would have lessened the shaking on the ground. But Ecuador is experiencing a greater loss of life and greater damage to property than Japan because of its less-stringent construction codes.
Rothery added that “there is no causal relationship between the earthquakes in Ecuador and Japan.”
Since 1900, there have been seven magnitude-7.0 quakes within 155 miles of the epicenter of Saturday’s massive earthquake in Ecuador, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
In January 1906, a magnitude-8.3 earthquake and tsunami killed as many as 1,500, according to the geological survey. The epicenter of Saturday’s earthquake was at the southern end of the rupture center of the 1906 event.
A March 1987 earthquake in the same region resulted in about 1,000 deaths, the survey said.
Source: USA Today | Aamer Madhani