Mexico continues to clean up from Tuesday's 7.4 earthquake that shook the entire country. The strong quake was centered in the southern part of the nation near Acapulco. Although the disaster damaged almost 1,000 homes and collapsed 60 more, there were no deaths.
Zhigang Pang, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, studies earthquakes and says scientists are not able to currently predict quakes before they happen. However, Pang says, experts weren't caught off guard.
"I don't think that we seismologists are surprised to see a magnitude 7.4 in that region. The earthquake occured about 11 miles undergound, where the Cocos plate slides under the North America plate. According to the United States Geological Survey, there have been 15 earthquakes since 1973 that have measured at least a 7.0 magnitude within 500 miles of Tuesday's event. The area moves approximately six centimeters a year. Such a fast rate needs to be accomodated, usually by large earthquakes."
Experts say part of the reason there wasn't a lot of damage is because Mexico has done a good job of constructing buildings to withstand these types of events. Many lessons were learned from an 8.1 magnitude earthquake that killed 9,000 and destroyed hundreds of buildings in 1985. As a result, many cities in the area conduct regularly scheduled earthquake drills.
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