Mexico quake picked up on Washington seismometers

Many people in Western Washington with close ties to Mexico are scrambling to make contact with friends and family in the quake zone.

Tuesday's 7.1 magnitude earthquake near Mexico City was so powerful, it was picked up on seismometers in Washington state's Olympic mountains.

This screenshot has a label showing the quake registering at the snow dome in the Olympics.

The quake was also picked up by other seismometers as part of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network. Sites also included smaller signals at Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens.

As of late Tuesday evening, Mexico has reported at least 149 people have died.

Related: Major earthquake shakes Mexico City; over 200 dead

Tuesday's 7.1  magnitude quake in the center of the country and an 8.1 magnitude a few weeks ago off the Mexican coast have a lot in common. Both happened in a slap of crust which once made up the ocean floor - a floor that's being pushed underneath the North American Continent.

The same geology exists here in Washington, where ocean crust is being pushed below the continent.  But instead of pushing steeply down toward the hot mantle of the earth as it is here in the Pacific Northwest, the Cocos slab in Mexico levels out before finally taking a plunge into the earth. 

It was on the bend on this graphic from the U.S. Geological Survey where the plate cracked and began pulling apart.  

There are nearly 800,000 Mexican-Americans in Washington. That’s 11% of the state’s population.

The good news is that because of the devastating earthquake 32 years ago to the day which killed more than 10,000, the people of Mexico are very well prepared for disasters like this. Construction standards have improved vastly and earthquake preparedness is drilled into people's heads.

In fact, just a couple of hours before Tuesday’s quake, the Mexican people went through a national earthquake drill. They are conducted twice per year for situations just like this.

“We are trained to expect this. Whatever you are trained for, however, when it happens, it is very difficult. There are a lot of people in shock, a lot of people scared and we have to take care of those people,” said Roberto Dondisch, Head Consul of Mexico in Seattle

Still, Washingtonians looking for family in the quake zone were scrambling to get in touch. 

Martianiano Lopez, of Kent, has a sister and nephew who live outside of Mexico City. He was able to reach them and found they were upset but safe. 

His two-year-old nephew Pablo was outside playing when he felt the ground shake. 

"He talked to my wife earlier and said, 'Oh Tia, I was very scared. The land was moving,'" Lopez said. 

For those trying to get contact friends or family in Mexico, you should text message or use social media. Do not call because that jams the phone lines.

A national emergency hotline has been established at 855-463-6395.

To help with relief efforts, contact the Mexican Red Cross.

You can contact the Mexican consulate in Seattle on their Facebook page.


© 2017 KING-TV


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