A 6.9-magnitude earthquake – a very powerful earthquake – rocked an area near the coast of Chiapas, Mexico on on July 7, 2014 at 6:23 a.m. local time (11:23 UTC). At least two people were reported killed in the Guatemalan town of San Marcos. The quake was originally reported as a 7.1-magnitude and later lowered to a 6.9. Either way, it was a major earthquake. No tsunami warning was issued for Hawaii, and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center made this statement:
BASED ON ALL AVAILABLE DATA A DESTRUCTIVE PACIFIC-WIDE TSUNAMI IS NOT EXPECTED AND THERE IS NO TSUNAMI THREAT TO HAWAII.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the quake occurred as the result of normal faulting at a depth of 60 kilometers (40 miles). The earthquake occurred near the border between Mexico and Guatemala, near Puero Madero, Mexico, and about 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Guatemala City, Guatemala, which has a population of one million people. At the location of the earthquake, the Cocos land plate subducts beneath, or dives beneath, the North America land plate at a velocity of approximately 79 mm/year (about 3 inches per year). That is why earthquakes are common in this region.
The region around the July 7 earthquake has produced 12 earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater since 1902 within 200 kilometers (125 miles) of the epicenter.
Most recently, a magnitude 7.4 earthquake occurred in November, 2012 in this region.
Details of the quake from USGS are as follows:
2014-07-07 11:23:58 UTC
2014-07-07 06:23:58 UTC-05:00 at epicenter
8km (5mi) NE of Puerto Madero, Mexico
16km (10mi) SW of Tapachula, Mexico
27km (17mi) WNW of Ciudad Tecun Uman, Guatemala
30km (19mi) NNW of Suchiate, Mexico
200km (124mi) W of Guatemala City, Guatemala
A Google public alert recommended to those in the area:
Expect aftershocks. These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures and can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake.
Look for and extinguish small fires. Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake.
Be aware of possible tsunamis if you live in coastal areas. These are also known as seismic sea waves (mistakenly called “tidal waves”). When local authorities issue a tsunami warning, assume that a series of dangerous waves is on the way. Stay away from the beach.
Be careful when driving after an earthquake and anticipate traffic light outages.
Bottom line: 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Chiapas, Mexico on July 7, 2014.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.