7.0 Earthquake in Haiti

This isn’t directly volcano-related, but the USGS (and CNN) are reporting that a 7.0 earthquake just occurred in Haiti. Looking at the map, it seems that it epicentered only 10 miles/15 kilometers from Port Au Prince, the biggest city in Haiti. The earthquake was at 10 km depth – so a fairly shallow earthquake related to the complex transform faulting along the boundary of the Caribbean and Atlantic plates. A Tsunani Watch has been issued for the Caribbean as well – but the US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center believes that the only effects will be local (within 100 km) of Hispaniola.


  1. #1 Greg Laden
    January 12, 2010

    It sounds like it might be pretty bad …. collapsed hospital, other damage, and so on.

  2. #2 Melissa Lowman
    January 12, 2010

    This is really horrible for the people of Haiti. They are a country of little resource, no trees/wood to rebuild infrastructure. The social aftermath of this earthquake is going to be huge.

  3. #3 Erik Klemetti
    January 12, 2010

    Humans are more resilient than people assume, but this could be a disaster of historic proportions from early reports. I’m not sure how Haiti responds with a big help from the rest of the world.

  4. #4 laura
    January 12, 2010

    I live in Santo Domingo and I felt it perfectly, but luckily nothing broke or fell down where I was. It felt like someone was shaking the chair i was sitting in with a very…. flowy motion… very odd.

  5. #5 Gijs de Reijke
    January 12, 2010

    Haiti and natural disasters… As if the country doesn’t have enough problems to deal with already. Port-au-Prince has nearly 1.7 million inhabitants, and the arrondissement of Port-au-Prince has more than 2.1 million inhabitants. This is going to be in the headlines for at least some days I’m afraid…

  6. #6 EKoh
    January 12, 2010

    This is very tragic, as Haiti is very ill-equipped to deal with it. I had been in Haiti numerous times back in the 80’s, before the following decades of political unrest. Even then there was grinding poverty and only rudimentary infrastructure and government services. Haitians are a very resourceful, resilient and proud people but they willneed the help of other nations to deal with this tragedy.

  7. #7 EKoh
    January 12, 2010

    CNN is on top of this (and doing a decent job), but Fox and MSNBC have decided not to interrupt O’Rielly and Olbermann.
    Sad proof that cable news is about pundits and egos.

  8. #8 Diane
    January 12, 2010

    I just checked the news on this quake. The presidential palace, other government buildings, the National Cathedral, and many other buildings have collapsed. This has been a major disaster for the people of Haiti. They will definitely need help and a lot of it. There is no word yet on the US embassy, but the building across from it collapsed.

    Haiti has been hit very hard by hurricanes in the recent past and the last one caused a loss of 70% of their crops. This is just tragic for them. I know if they get the help they need, they will be able to cope. It is just sad they have to go through this.

    Let’s keep them in our thoughts and prayers.

  9. #9 Suzanne
    January 12, 2010

    Thank you, Erik, for posting this information. I’ve been an avid reader of your blog as a layperson interested in volcanoes so when I got home tonight and checked my bookmark I learned about this horrific incident.

    I sponsor a child in the Dominican Republic through World Vision and have several friends who sponsor children in Haiti. We pray that they and their families are alright. I’ve read that the Canadian government has pledged support and can only hope they deliver swift help in the most practical of ways.

  10. #10 Leigh Williams
    January 13, 2010

    Haiti has been devastated by a 7.0 earthquake. Many collapsed buildings (including U.N. headquarters there and the hospital in Port-au-Prince). Extensive coverage on Rachel Maddow tonight.

    Links to relief organizations

    In a poignant plea for help from the international community, the Haitian ambassador said tonight on Rachel Maddow’s show that we should send our money to relief organizations who already have people and infrastructure on the ground. Not known yet if the airport is usable; CNN reports the control tower is down. I can’t find any mention of shipping/docks/water ingress.

    I took a look at the organizations available, and I’ve chosen Direct Relief International; they seem to have a fairly robust infrastructure in-country (4 hospitals, several clinics, supply chain in place already). They bring supplies in by container ship; two of these arrived earlier today. Greg Laden has independently sussed this org out too and is also recommending it.

    My other idea for a choice, Doctors Without Borders, reports damage to their medical facility and injuries to patients and staff.

    Time to get out the debit/credit cards, folks. Haitians have had enough to bear without this catastrophe. The loss of life is going to be heartbreaking; we’ve got to help get supplies in to help the survivors and miniminize the death toll as much as humanly possible.

  11. #11 Virginia Padgett
    January 14, 2010

    Earthquakes do release Escaped Inmates from Jails, when the
    collapse of the buildings come, the Horror of a any disaster
    crimnals on the streets. The Police are busy staying alive
    and trying to search for alive bodies and help people.
    I do not believe Haiti have a standing active Military Army, only a Police Force and jails. To me the worst part of a Disaster are Murder Criminals and Rapist Crimnals
    out of Jail to do harm. I pray the International Government Helpers, be prepared for Escaped Criminals and some wild drama type riot persons when they have a mental breakdown. Blessed the helpers to help the needy !

  12. #12 Jean-Denis
    January 15, 2010


    I don’t really know where you got this delusion. I really suggest you learn a bit more about suffering and trauma caused by major natural disasters such as this earthquake. Escaped criminals are not even on the radar screen compared to the rest.

  13. #13 Diane
    January 15, 2010

    Those who escaped are just as scarred as the others. It takes a few days for them to even begin to thing of what to do and then they are most likely to loot for food or anything else they can get hold of to sell.

    Haiti did have an army of sorts and the barreks are in ruin. The 82nd Airborn is there now so order will be coming as time goes on. The people are being helped and that is what we can focus on now. Help is there and the aircraft carrier is there with three hospitals! So it is just a matter of time for things to settle down.

    Iam thankful that so many different nations have come to help.

  14. #14 Matt Maddox
    January 21, 2010

    I have accumulated numerous cases of geologic events showing a 249-year periodicity.
    These match a 249-year large planet cycle in which large planets end up at the same point in the sky or on the same axis.
    There was a combination of eruptions in 1759-60 composed of Villarrica, Llaima and Kasatochi. In 1761 there were two major earthquakes in Haiti.
    In 2008-09 the volcanoes erupted again with Haiti earthquake again following.
    The two largest earthquakes in Canada’s history occurred 249 years apart. They were both located in the SW of Canada.
    Also a very narrow section off Japan’s coast – the Tonankai Trough – showed major earthquakes in 1605 and 1854.
    Major eruptions of Nevado del Ruiz occurred in 1595 and 1845 (250 years).
    Further, the Chinese predicted an earthquake in 1975 using seismic signals, water well level monitoring and animal indicators.
    I don’t think 200,000 people had to die.

    Matt Maddox

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