In DepthSeismology

Unusual quake rattles Mexico

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Science  15 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6356, pp. 1084
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6356.1084

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When a deadly magnitude-8.2 earthquake struck the coast of Mexico's Chiapas state on 7 September, the handful of scientists that study the region were stunned, but not altogether surprised. For more than a century, there had been little activity to study—precisely why they thought the area could be due for a big one. The epicenter of the quake, which struck just before midnight local time, was just southeast of the Tehuantepec gap, a 125-kilometer-long stretch of Mexico's Pacific coast that has been seismically silent since record-keeping began more than a century ago. Their first priority now is to figure out how much, if any, of the Tehuantepec gap slipped in last week's quake, which killed more than 90 people and destroyed or severely damaged the homes of 2.3 million more.