TOTN: Differences Between Haiti & Chile Quakes

I missed Monday’s episode of Talk of the Nation on NPR.

Normally, I’d be okay with that, but this discussion sounded fascinating. TOTN took a look at the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile — what makes them different and and why some countries prepare for earthquakes better than others.

Fortunately, you can still listen to the discussion online or check out the transcript, both of which I’d highly recommend. One of the guests, Eliana Loveluck, lived through the Valdivia earthquake in Chile in 1960 and remembers the experience well. She and her sister even invented a game — “the earthquake game,” naturally — where they’d reenact everything that transpired as a way of processing the tragedy.

Also interesting — the discussion of “seismic design philosophy” that has been implemented in Chile, a place where buildings were designed with earthquake engineering in mind. Impoverished countries don’t often have strong construction codes…and this can make all the difference.

Photo: Felipe Gamboa/AFP/Getty Images


  • Presented by: Scott Burns, Professor of Geology, Portland State University – http://soils.geology.pdx.edu

    Portland is earthquake country. Three different types of earthquakes are possible in Oregon with two creating big threats for Portland. One is movement on local faults in the Portland area like the Portland Hills Fault. The other is the “Big One’ that could generate a magnitude of 9 along the coast and could last three minutes. Portland would be greatly affected by both.

    Dr. Burns will talk about the sources of these quakes and their past history and future chances and specifically will talk about both Haiti and Chile and their relevance to Oregon. Chile is a perfect example of what could happen in Oregon with the Big One.

  • Something people were talking about up until the Chile earthquake was that a 7.0 quake hit near Okinawa, Japan (where there are 20,000 US Marines in 8 bases). They are so used to it, and the quake was so deep, that no damage or casualties were reported despite it being the same magnitude as the Haiti quake. In fact, the local American Red Cross office is back to raising funds for Haiti!

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