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The earth moved

May 16, 2011 – 12:53 pm

It won’t have escaped your notice that there was an earthquake here in Spain last week. On Wednesday two quakes (4.5, then 5.2) in Lorca, a medieval town in Murcia province, caused considerable damage and injuries; some people died. The Prince and Princess of Asturias comforted the mourners at a funeral last week, while President Zapatero also visited the town. A fund of 25 million euros has been set aside for people to rebuild their businesses, many of which are agricultural.

The tremor was felt in the town of Velez-Rubio in Almeria, one of the most seismically active provinces of Andalucia, along with Malaga and Granada. Its force was 1,000 times less powerful than the one which struck Japan in February, and caused the tsunami.

So how frequent are these types of events in Andalucia? Not very common at all, you will be pleased to hear. This was the worst quake in 50 years, the last major one being in Granada in 1956, which was less powerful, measuring 5.0. In the past century, there have been about ten earthquakes in Andalucia measuring over 5.0 on the Richter scale, which causes some structural damage, while older buildings are in danger of collapsing.

Every year, there are around 100 quakes measuring force 3.5, which are enough to be felt, and cause extremely minor damage – objects falling off shelves or tables. There are also some 4.5 tremors annually, which can cause minor damage, although obviously the more well designed and constructed buildings won’t have a problem.

This quake was predicted in February, after the major Japanese earthquake, by Luis Suarez, President of the Colegio de Geologos. He stated that there could be one “in the not-too-distant future”.

The south of Spain is near the meeting between the Eurasian and African Plates, which fortunately do not experience much movement. In short, there is little need to worry.

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