A week of earthquakes, but many too deep for much damage

By on September 7th, 2012

Four major earthquakes rocked the globe this week.

On Monday, a 3.2-magnitude trembler struck Beverly Hills, Ca., and on early Friday morning, the “Garden Spot of the World” felt a 3.5-magnitude earthquake.

With two earthquakes near Beverly Hills in one week, and another two near Fresno, a city about 250 miles south, California has seen its fair share of tremors.

Those tremors, however, are about half as strong as an earthquake that hit Costa Rica on Wednesday. It measured at a 7.6-magnitude and hit about 25 miles below the Earth’s surface.

Had the quake been more shallow, it would have caused more damage.

As it is, very little damage was caused by an earthquake this large.

“We have a culture of concrete and steel,” Olman Vargas, president of the national College of Architecture and Engineering, told The Associated Press. “Years ago we abandoned building in mud and adobe, something that’s caused a lot of problems and that they’re continuing in other countries.”

And that’s almost exactly what caused so much damage in China; on Friday, the country felt a 5.7-magnitude earthquake.

Where minimal damage occurred in Beverly Hills, and only one reported death – which was a heart attack caused by fright – in Costa Rica following the tremors, China saw about 64 deaths with 714 more people injured. Those figures have grown since the initial reports of 50 deaths and 550 injured.

About 16 aftershocks struck; the most powerful of which was a 5.6-magnitude.

These quakes were relatively shallow, measuring at about six miles below the surface, which allowed for more damage to be done.

“The casualty number is still being compiled. I don’t know what was like for the other towns, but my town got hit badly,” a Chinese government official told the Christian Science Monitor in the town of Jiaokui.

The main difference between these two areas, China and Costa Rica, are the structural integrity of the buildings.

“I can assure you we comply with all global standards — the same as in California and Japan, places well-known for their high tectonic activity,” Vargas said.

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