Robust earthquakes hit the Ecuadorian coast line on 16th April, 2016 causing significant infrastructural damage and massive deaths. According to Dube, over 200 people lost their lives while over one thousand people were injured. The coastal areas of the Andean nation appear to have been significantly affected by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the offshore approximately 17 miles away from Muisine, a town in northern shores of Ecuador, at 7:00 Ecuadorian time. Even though the effect of the quake was experienced in regions hundreds of miles far from its epicenters, the most devastating effects to have been caused by the quake was experienced in Pedernales, a tourist t0wn along the southern coast line, as evident in the following image.
US Geological Survey
According to Dube, the town of Pedernales was nearly flattened completely as over 150 aftershocks were reported in the region. Such an earth quake motion is as a result of quick change of potential energy into kinetic energy. In fact most earthquakes, including the Ecuadorian one, are generated along fault lines, tectonic-plate boundary areas, or along ridges in the middle of the oceans. At these geographic zones, large rock masses that are moving in opposite directions become locked as a result of friction. The friction is overwhelmed when the accumulated stress gains sufficient force to effect a rapid slippage of the masses of rock. The extent of the shock wave passed onto the nearby rocks is controlled by the amount of stress that has piled up due to friction, the displacement of rocks due to slippage and the power to the rocks to convey the energy that seismic waves contain. The recently experienced Ecuadorian is thought to have involved a six or more-meter displacement of bedrock. After the core shock wave, there were several aftershocks due to the continuous discharge of frictional stress.
Apart from the main shock waves that are generated by the earth quake, there are often foreshocks as well as aftershocks. Generally, foreshocks escalate in magnitude resulting in the main earthquake, while aftershocks occur after the main shaking of the earth surface and the strength of the shaking is always on the decline. Even though aftershocks are small in magnitude when compared to the core shock wave, as was the case in the Ecuadorian earthquake, they still cause significant damages to an already-weakened human and natural constructed features. After the earth quake completes its movements, the strength or rather magnitude is always determined by a Ritcher scale. A scale that quantifies the energy released to earth surface. In the case of the Ecuadorian earth quake, the energy was measured to be 7.8 on the Ritcher scale, a considerably high magnitude, comparable to some of the disastrous earthquakes in the world such as the San Francisco earth quake (1906) that had a magnitude in excess of 7.7 in the Ritcher scale.
The effects of an earth quake normally vary according to the intensity and energy. A strong earthquake like the Ecuadorian one, may result in ground rupturing, causing disastrous damage to infrastructure as experienced in the southern and northern coastal towns of Ecuador. Such disastrous earthquakes also tend to generate avalanches and landslides, hence making rescue of persons challenging task. The immense shaking results in the liquification of the earth surface, the ground that is built on landfill, because of the breakage of the water mains. In fact, the shaking is intensified in landfill areas. The other significant cause of damage that was experienced in Ecuador is the fires that get ignited when gas lines break and power lines fall major cause of damage is the fires that ignite when power lines collapse. Moreover, undersea earthquakes may result in tsunamis, which can travel far from the earth quakes epicenter and effect immense damage to communities along the coastal lines.
Ryan Dube. "Powerful Earthquake Kills Hundreds in Ecuador." WSJ. N.p., 17 Apr. 2016. Web. 18 Apr. 2016. Available at http://www.wsj.com/articles/powerful-7-8-magnitude-quake-hits-ecuadors-central-coast-1460854254
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