Dear Friends: I’m trying to get this blog out today, first of all to say that while we certainly felt the 7.8 earthquake last night, we are far from the epicenter and we didn’t know of the deaths and damage to the coastal areas until this morning. Thanks to those who quickly wrote to ask if we are OK. I grabbed this image off the web to give an idea where we were are in relation to the center in Muisne. From Guayaquil, we are about 200 km. east, up in the Andes. Michael and I felt many tremors during our years in Costa Rica and last night we immediately recognized what was happening. About 40 seconds of gentle swaying, with power flickering and light fixtures swaying. Our house is built of barraque – adobe mud around a wooden frame – for just this reason. It is built to “sway” with the earth’s movement instead of coming down, as can happen with adobe block structures. (Our area of Cañar is affected by minute movements, usually unfelt but obvious in the eroded countryside around us.)
In fact, in other Andean countries such as Chile and Argentina, adobe block construction is no longer allowed because so many die in these buildings in strong earthquakes. Now, of course, most buildings are made of poured concerete or concrete block and this was typical damage last night. (image from NYT)
From quick reading on BBC: (Ecuador) sits on the so-called “Ring of Fire” – the arc of high seismic activity that extends right around the Pacific basin. At its location, Ecuador fronts the boundary between the Nazca and South American tectonic plates. …The Nazca plate, which makes up the Pacific Ocean floor in this region, is being pulled down (subducted) and under the South American coast. It is a process that has helped build the Andes and Ecuador’s many volcanoes, including the mighty Chimborazo.”
Thanks again for all those who wrote with concern. Now I’ll continue working on my blog for next week: “The Price of Oil, A Walk, and Another Baptism (later today).