Haiti Earthquake: Geophysicists stunned by “strange” earthquake (January 12, 2010)
“The magnitude 7 earthquake that struck Haiti yesterday is the strongest earthquake to hit the region in more than two centuries, geologists say. While earthquakes are not uncommon in the Caribbean island country, the recent Haiti earthquake's intensity surprised experts. "It's quite strange" from a historical perspective, said Julie Dutton, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey. Haiti is part of the island of Hispaniola, which also hosts the Dominican Republic. The last major earthquake to strike Haiti's side of the island was in 1860. Yesterday's initial earthquake, which struck at about 5 p.m. local time yesterday, spawned dozens of aftershocks, about 15 of which were magnitude 5 or greater. Whether the earthquake could trigger other major quakes is not known. "It's not something that we can project is going to happen," Dutton said. "But definitely if you're moving two plates in one area, you're building up stress and strain in another."
The Haiti earthquake was caused by the release of seismic stresses that had built up around two tectonic plates. The motions of these plates create what are known as strike-slip faults, where two sections of Earth's crust are grinding past each other in opposite directions. "The Caribbean plate is moving eastward with respect to the North American plate," Detton said. When the stresses along the fault lines reach a certain point, they can be released in bursts of energy that cause earthquakes, although it's unclear when the energy will be discharged as a series of small quakes or as one big temblor. Since Haiti is very close to the boundary where the Caribbean and North American plates meet, fault lines linked to the plates' movements run right through the country, Detton said.” -National Geographic
Not your typical earthquake?: Almost all churches in Haiti were destroyed
• “Hell came up, 500,000 feared dead” –Drudge Report Headline
• “The cathedral, the archbishop's office, all the big churches, the seminaries have been reduced to rubble," Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the apostolic envoy to Haiti, told the Vatican news agency FIDES.” –Breibart News, Associated Press