Sunday, April 17, 2016

Massive Earthquake Smashes Ecuador - - San Andreas and Juan de Fuca Next?

The world's news outlets are reporting that Ecuador was hit by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake last night. That is partially true. The reality is that it was much worse than that.

Ecuador was actually hit by a 7.9, 7.8 and 7.3 according to data posted last night and this morning on the website. The quakes hit in very quick succession, all in the same geographic region about 100 miles from Quito, over on the coast. But we very vividly felt it here where I live in central Quito. The whole city was rocking and rolling for minutes. It went on and on. I read one, pure disinformation, mainstream news account that said the shaking persisted for 40 seconds. In reality the ground shook and trembled, and buildings moved and swayed for minutes. Everyone ran outside and stood in the middle of the street.

You could feel the ground moving and shaking under your feet. The poor little country of Ecuador has just suffered a very heavy hammer blow. There has been a lot of damage to buildings, vehicles and infrastructure in the cities and towns on and near the coast.

The coastal town of Pedernales, with 40,000 inhabitants, has been flattened. The cities of Portoviejo and Manta have also been hit hard. Many other towns and cities in Ecuador's coastal region have sustained tremendous destruction. Roads, bridges, houses, commercial buildings and business have collapsed such that it is hard for rescue workers to enter some areas immediately or feasibly get to survivors. There are hundreds of injured and dead, and we are just in the first 24 hours. The casualty toll is likely to go much higher.

Thousands of police and soldiers have been deployed in the stricken region to restore and maintain order. Rescue workers labored through the night digging victims out of the rubble, some dead, others alive.

Electricity, Internet and telephone service are out in some places, though the lights stayed on here in Quito. They dimmed and flickered for awhile. but the grid stayed up here.

As my neighbors and I stood outside in the street with the ground lurching and swaying underfoot, I suddenly saw a very large, extremely bright, vivid flash of light in the sky overhead. It was somewhat like a bright flash of lightning or an arc welder's brilliant light. It lasted a second and was gone. There was no crash of thunder. I surmise that what I saw was the often observed phenomenon of "earthquake lights", which evidently are energetic discharges of electricity, caused by the piezoelectric effect, as tectonic, earthquake activity puts tremendous pressure on the silicon-dioxide (quartz crystal) in the Earth's crust and causes it to electrically arc off to the atmosphere.

Here are some links with information and photos of the earthquake damage last night here in Ecuador. 

Ecuadorian President, Rafael Correa, has declared a national emergency and released emergency funds to help with the relief effort. However, due to the economic crisis in this country and the great extent of this natural catastrophe, the money is only going to be a small part of what is needed.

I would hasten to add that in light of the deep-rooted corruption in the Red Cross organization that it is probably not advisable to send emergency donations to the Red Cross. It is better to donate to a group or organization that actually works directly with local communities and individuals in need. I cannot tell you which groups or organizations those would be. You will have to do your own, careful, wise, due diligence.

This event is related to heightened earthquake and volcanic activity all over the world. The Earth's crust is very unstable these days.The Pacific tectonic plate in particular is under tremendous pressure, as reflected by the heavy earthquake activity in southern Japan, and the major earthquakes in Ecuador. What happened here and in Japan may also presage major earthquakes on the North American coast in the near future, along the San Andreas and Juan de Fuca faults, seeing as the Pacific plate is also ramming up against western North America.

Indeed, the Ecuadorian seismic activity last night set seismographs to quivering throughout North America last night. It is obvious that the Pacific tectonic plate is under tremendous pressure, in light of the heavy earthquake activity in recent days in the western Pacific region and southern Japan, and now in Ecuador. 

The Pacific plate is fully capable of initiating equally destructive quake activity in California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. Indeed, the San Andreas fault in California and the Juan de Fuca fault off the coast of the Pacific Northwest region are both due for major releases that could result in catastrophic earthquakes. From a long-term geological standpoint it is certain that major earthquakes will occur in western North America, the question is whether those faults will rupture and cause damaging earthquakes in the near term. 

I don't know and no one else does either. We have to wait and see what happens. But in light of the major earthquake activity in recent days in other regions of the Pacific Ocean's so-called Ring of Fire, it is only prudent to acknowledge that the possibility exists.


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