Quake split a tectonic plate in two, and geologists are shaken
An intense temblor in Mexico was just the latest example of an enigmatic type of earthquake with highly destructive potential.
On September 7, 2017, a magnitude 8.2 earthquake struck southern Mexico, killing dozens and injuring hundreds. While earthquakes are common enough in the region, this powerful event wasn’t any run-of-the-mill tremor.
That’s because part of the roughly 37-mile-thick tectonic plate responsible for the quake completely split apart, as revealed by a new study in Nature Geoscience. This event took place in a matter of tens of seconds, and it coincided with a gargantuan release of energy.
“If you think of it as a huge slab of glass, this rupture made a big, gaping crack,” says lead author Diego Melgar, an assistant professor of earthquake seismology at the University of Oregon. “All indications are that it has broken through