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Why does Haiti have so many earthquakes?!

The Earth’s crust (or lithosphere) is made up of tectonic plates that move. Like pieces of a cracked shell that fit snugly together, these plates rest on a mantle of hot, molten rocks around the Earth's core.  When the plates move, these hot rocks break at the surface. 

| CLICK to see a glimpse of the earth's core (first 55 seconds)

| CLICK to learn about tectonic plates and earthquakes (2:06min)

Haiti sits near the intersection of two plates - the North American plate and the Caribbean plate. Multiple fault lines between the plates cut through or near the island of Hispaniola, which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic. Faults are fractures in the earth crust where movement has occurred. Each fault line behaves differently. 

| CLICK to learn about the fault lines on the island of Hispaniola (2010)

Some faults move rapidly, other faults move in the form of a creep. Some faults are a few millimeters in length while others are thousands of kilometers. The fault surface can also be horizontal or vertical or some arbitrary angle in between. Also, the spaces between tectonic plates are always faults, but not all faults are between the plates.

Rivers that cross fault lines can even change shape when tectonic plates slip past each other. The shifting ground stretches the river channels until the water breaks its course and flows onto new paths. 

| CLICK to learn about earthquakes #I (5:01min)

| CLICK to learn about earthquakes #2 (2:57min)

In Haiti, tectonic plates are continually smashing into or sliding against one another deep under the earth, breaking off hot molten rocks, and over geologic time, has create the beautiful cliffs, hills, and valleys of her beloved landscape. Without the movement of tectonic plates, no geologic wonders, mountain ranges and continents would form on earth. 

Mankind cannot prevent natural earthquakes from occurring but we can significantly mitigate their effects by identifying hazards, building safer structures and providing education on earthquake safety.

For example, between 2012 and 2020, in response to the devasting 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew, Haiti strengthened its national and local disaster risk management capacity and made investments to improve the resilience of its road network. | Read more

The United States Geologic Survey (USGS) also developed the first-ever national seismic network in Haiti with an active outreach program for education. | Read more

We can also reduce the risk of earthquakes attributed to human activities like nuclear bomb detonation, dam impoundment, oil and gas extraction and underground mining.


| CLICK to view earthquake tracking info in real time from around the world. We learn that many more earthquakes are happening around the globe than we might realize.