Trembling Earthquake in Morocco in Sept 8th 2023 by the magnitude 6.8 earthquake that hit Morocco last week was a rare occurrence.
It was the deadliest the country has experienced in more than 60 years. At least 2,681 people were killed and more than 2,501 injured.
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What caused the rare deadly earthquake in Morocco?
Experts think that the ground in Africa moved north and bumped into the ground in Eurasia, which made the ground shake. Earthquakes usually happen where big pieces of the Earth’s surface are pushing against each other. In Morocco, these quakes usually occur where Africa and Eurasia meet.
But this time, the earthquake happened in a place called al-Haouz province in the High Atlas Mountains, which is 75 kilometers (about 47 miles) southwest of Marrakesh, a big city in Morocco. That’s unusual because usually, the shaking is closer to Tangiers than Marrakesh.
The explanation for this earthquake is that it occurred when the edge of one piece of rock slipped under the other, kind of like when one book slides under another on a bookshelf. These rocks are part of the African plate, and this sliding happened between two smaller parts called the Morocco and Iberia microplates.
A geologist who studies how the Earth’s surface moves said that these types of sliding usually happen to the north of the Atlas Mountains and push towards them. During the earthquake, the part of the Earth’s surface near the mountains moved over the other part, pushing the mountainside upwards. This was a result of the tension that had built up over a long time between the African and Eurasian plates. These faults in the Earth’s surface can only handle so much pressure, and once in a while, like every few thousand years, they let go and cause an earthquake to relieve the pressure.
Now, it’s expected that there will be smaller shaking episodes, known as aftershocks, for several weeks until things go back to normal. A professor who studies earthquakes at a place called the International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology in Tehran explained that the Earth’s surface movement happened in two layers, one closer to the surface and another deeper down. This sliding and folding of the Earth’s layers are called “decollement,” which is a French word meaning to detach or peel from something.
He said that there’s a shallow decollement layer about 1 to 4 kilometers (0.6 to 2.5 miles) deep in the Earth’s surface and a deeper decollement layer in the middle of the Earth’s crust, about 10 to 20 kilometers (6.2 to 12.4 miles) deep in this area. He believes that the earthquake likely started in the deeper layer and moved up towards the surface.
How severe was the Earthquake in Morocco?
The earthquake made thousands of people lose their homes, and many had to leave their houses. The government declared three days of sadness because of it.
The place called Al-Haouz was the most affected, but other areas like Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua, and Taroudant also had a lot of damage. Some small villages were completely destroyed, and it’s hard for rescue teams to get to some of them.
Now, let’s talk about how mountains form when tectonic plates come together. Imagine you’re pushing against a wall. Over time, pressure builds up, and one of two things happens: either the wall breaks or moves upwards. This comparison helps simplify the idea that when Earth’s tectonic plates move towards each other, it eventually creates mountains.
The passage also mentions something called the North Atlas fault, which is a complicated crack in the Earth’s crust that stretches for at least 100 kilometers (about 62 miles). Faults are like breaks in the Earth’s outer layer where it moves around. In this case, the North Atlas fault is linked to the tectonic plates coming together in this area.
Effect on People
Reaching the villages that were hit hardest by the earthquake is very challenging. The Moroccan government’s response to the disaster hasn’t been very strong. Rescuers are still trying to find survivors after a big earthquake hit central and southern Morocco on Friday. They say that over 2,000 people have died in the earthquake so far. But it’s hard to know how bad it really is because some of the areas that got hit the hardest are small villages up in the Atlas Mountains.
People are doing their best to help out. They’re using their hands and simple tools like shovels and picks to rescue their neighbors. Some have hurried back from other parts of Morocco where they live and work just to help their family members who are stuck in these villages. Since there’s no cell phone service, they’ve taken trains, buses, and even hitchhiked to get back home. Now, they’re working hard to save their neighbors or recover their bodies. Unfortunately, in some cases, people have returned only to find out that most or all of their family members didn’t make it.
As time goes on, it will become harder to rescue people because the first three days after the earthquake are the most critical for saving lives. After that, the chances of finding survivors go down a lot.
Every village is in desperate need of help. They need things like tents, food, water, and diapers. They don’t have electricity, and the government isn’t providing these things to the villages. It seems like the villagers are pretty much on their own. Some individuals and organizations are donating supplies, but it’s not enough.
Many countries have offered to send aid and rescue teams, but as of Sunday, they were still waiting for Morocco to officially ask for help. The Moroccan government needs to request assistance before foreign countries can send aid.
In addition, the passage talks about how people living in this area might not know about the fault system under the ground. This is because big earthquakes caused by tectonic activity happen very rarely, sometimes thousands of years apart. Also, evidence of past earthquakes can disappear over time, making it hard to understand the fault system.
As the critical three-day window for finding survivors narrows, the urgency of the situation becomes increasingly evident. While international support stands ready to assist, the formal request from Moroccan authorities is awaited to facilitate a coordinated relief effort.
This tragic event underscores the importance of disaster preparedness and the need for improved infrastructure and resources in vulnerable regions. It serves as a stark reminder that natural disasters can strike at any time, highlighting the importance of unity and cooperation on both national and global scales to mitigate the impact of such calamities and provide swift assistance to those in need.
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