Why are there so many earthquakes in Mexico?

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It is frequently hit, the latest quake coming on the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 disaster that killed more than 5,000 people, and less than two weeks after an 8.1 magnitude hit the southern coast.

The Central American country suffers so much because of its position on a large grid of tectonic plates, on which all the Earth’s countries and seas sit.

A machine works on a destroyed hotel
Image:Hundreds of people have been killed in the latest earthquake to hit Mexico

Mexico is on the edge of two the world’s largest – the North American and Pacific plates – as well as the smaller Cocos plate.

It also falls on the ‘Ring of Fire’, a horseshoe shaped area around the edges of the Pacific Ocean, from Australia to the Andes, along which 90% of all earthquakes occur.

  1. Rescue teams look for people trapped in the rubble after an earthquake in Mexico City Rescue teams look for people trapped in the rubble after an earthquake in Mexico City
    Rescue teams search for people trapped in the rubble after the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico City
  2. Search and rescue operations are carried out at the site of a collapsed building Search and rescue operations are carried out at the site of a collapsed building
    The quake hit central Mexico hours after preparation drills were held on the anniversary of the 1985 earthquake which killed thousands of people
  3. Rescuers, firefighters, policemen, soldiers and volunteers continue removing the rubble and debris from a flattened buildingRescuers, firefighters, policemen, soldiers and volunteers continue removing the rubble and debris from a flattened building
    Rescuers, firefighters, policemen, soldiers and volunteers are working to remove rubble and debris
  4. A rescue dog searches for people among the rubble of a collapsed building A rescue dog searches for people among the rubble of a collapsed building
    A rescue dog searches for people among the rubble of a collapsed building. Continue through for more pictures…
  5. A rescue worker motions for everybody to be quiet as they search for people under the rubble A rescue worker motions for everybody to be quiet as they search for people under the rubble
  6. Rescue workers look for people under the rubble Rescue workers look for people under the rubble
  7. Paramedics wait as rescue personnel search for people in the rubbleParamedics wait as rescue personnel search for people in the rubble
  8. Damage after an earthquake hit in Mexico CityDamage after an earthquake hit in Mexico City
  9. People climb over the debris of a collapsed building People climb over the debris of a collapsed building
  10. A machine works on a destroyed hotel A machine works on a destroyed hotel
  11. A damaged buildingA damaged building
  12. Rescuers and people work at a collapsed buildingRescuers and people work at a collapsed building
  13. Rescue workers search for people under the rubble Rescue workers search for people under the rubble
  14. People donate water for rescue workers and victims People donate water for rescue workers and victims
  15. Search and rescue operations are carried out at the site of a collapsed buildingSearch and rescue operations are carried out at the site of a collapsed building
  16. People sit on a sidewalk after the earthquake hitPeople sit on a sidewalk after the earthquake hit
  17. People are seen next to a damaged carPeople are seen next to a damaged car
  18. A man motions for everybody to be quiet as rescue workers look for people under the rubble A man motions for everybody to be quiet as rescue workers look for people under the rubble
  19. Rescue personnel stand on top of the rubble of a collapsed building while searching for peopleRescue personnel stand on top of the rubble of a collapsed building while searching for people
  20. People carry buckets to help remove the rubble of a collapsed building People carry buckets to help remove the rubble of a collapsed building
  21. Soldiers, rescuers and people work at a collapsed building Soldiers, rescuers and people work at a collapsed building
  22. People look at the damage after the earthquake People look at the damage after the earthquake
  23. A damaged building A damaged building
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Mexico’s location makes it particularly vulnerable to earth tremors.

The Earth’s plates grind against each other all the time. Sometimes they get stuck and pressure builds-an earthquake is the sudden and violent release of this pressure.

On top of this, the Cocos plate is denser than the landmass of Mexico itself, meaning the country’s soft earth crumbles more easily.

This combination makes it one of the most seismically active countries on the planet.

Graphics grab of the tectonic plates Mexico sits on
Image:Mexico sits on the edge of the North American, Pacific and Cocos tectonic plates

Mexico City, where more than 200 people have been killed in the latest tremor, was also mostly built on a former lakebed, making it even more susceptible.

Japan, Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nepal, the Philippines, India and El Salvador are also among the countries most vulnerable to earthquakes.

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