Among the most seismically active states in the union is California. Mexico’s Baja California state borders California, and the area is prone to frequent earthquakes. But out of all the earthquakes that rocked the area, one was the biggest and strongest. Learn about the strongest earthquake to have ever rocked Baja California, including its location, date, and magnitude as well as the devastation it inflicted.
What Was the Most Powerful Earthquake to Ever Rumble Through Baja California?
A 7.2 Mw earthquake was the strongest to ever tremble through Baja California. On April 4, 2010, the area was hit by an earthquake with an intensity of VII on the Modified Mercalli intensity scale. The epicenter of the incident was located at 32.13°N 115.30°W, which is approximately 30 miles south of Mexicali and east of Laguna Salada.
A couple 3 and 4 Mw earthquakes that rocked the area on April 1, 2010, marked the beginning of the foreshocks. Following the main incident on April 4, 2010, there were aftershocks for several months. The magnitudes of a few of the aftershocks exceeded 5 Mw.
The event began at 3:40 p.m. and lasted for approximately one and a half minutes. Both the immediate area and a large surrounding area suffered significant damage as a result of this incident. While the magnitude of this earthquake was confirmed at 7.2 Mw, there is a nearby quake that is occasionally regarded as the biggest to ever hit the area. Let’s examine why the Laguna Salada earthquake of 1892 was not the biggest or most powerful to strike Baja California.
A Potential Contender for the Strongest Baja California Quake
There are those who argue that the Laguna Salada earthquake of 1892 was the strongest to ever hit Baja California. When considering the event, there are a few issues with such a label, though. First, the location of the earthquake’s epicenter, which is reported as 32.73°N 115.50°W, places it just north of the US-Mexico border.
The fact that the data utilized to determine an earthquake’s strength has altered is another problem. Back then, experts estimated the magnitude of an earthquake based on its intensity. As a result, 7.8 Mw was the first estimated power of this earthquake. According to contemporary views, the event was more likely to have occurred between 6.8 and 7.2 Mw.
This brings us to our final justification for not ranking this earthquake as a tie with the Baja California earthquake of 2010: uncertainty on the magnitude of the occurrence. Scientists measured the 2010 event’s strength, magnitude, and intensity using more precise methods. The 2010 earthquake is a better candidate to be the strongest to strike the region based on information about its moment magnitude and Mercalli intensity.
What Caused the 2010 Baja California Earthquake?
There was an earthquake along the Laguna Salada fault, which is 40 to 50 miles long, that was the strongest to ever rock Baja California. The earthquake was likely caused by an oblique-slip fault, according to scientists. The intensity of this earthquake damaged a large area despite its epicenter being in a rather uninhabited area.
Where Was the Epicenter of the Most Powerful Earthquake to Rumble Through Baja California?
The epicenter of the 2010 Baja California earthquake was located at 32.13°N 115.30°W. Accordingly, the epicenter of the earthquake is located roughly 5 miles east of Laguna Salada and 30 miles south of Mexicali. This establishes Baja California as the earthquake’s primary location and explains why it was felt in Mexico in addition to the United States.
The Damage Caused by the 2010 Baja California Earthquake
The most violent earthquake to ever tremble through Baja California damaged the impacted areas to the tune of over $1.15 billion. After the earthquake, a lot of Mexicali lost electricity. There were fires in the city and its outskirts as a result of gas pipes rupturing. Roads cracked, homes crumbled, and irrigation systems failed. There were landslides in the area.
The Imperial Valley in the United States had power outages, gas leaks, water leaks, and building damage. Compared to Mexico, the United States suffered significantly less damage.
How Many People Perished in the Quake?
Sadly, the Mexico earthquake claimed the lives of four persons. Approximately 200 individuals, including Americans, were hurt during the earthquake. The primary causes of these injuries were fires, floods, collapsing buildings, and falling construction materials. However, the number of fatalities could have been significantly higher had the strong earthquake occurred in a more populous region.
In 2010, the strongest earthquake to ever tremble through Baja California occurred. The data known about the 2010 earthquake makes it more reasonable to designate it as the most powerful to hit the region, even though an earthquake in 1892 might have been comparable in size and intensity. Because of how seismically active the earthquake struck area, it is likely that the area will continue to be affected by future earthquakes.