On Saturday, February 27, 2010 at 01:34:14 a.m. a massive earthquake struck offshore Maule, Chile.
The earthquake was a magnitude 8.8, 500 times stronger than the one in Haiti. However, despite the strength of the quake, the death toll remains low. A recent count determined that at least 279 people have been killed in the country.
A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck Argentina, one of 45 aftershocks reported from Chile’s quake. Tsunami warnings and advisories were issued for many countries on the coast, including Hawaii, Alaska and California.
The reason that Chile faired better than Haiti, even with a more powerful earthquake, is due to the way their buildings are constructed and the fact that Chile was better prepared.
Since Haiti is a poorer country, their buildings are not made as well as those of the more prosperous Chile. In Chile, all buildings are held up by reinforced concrete columns which are strengthened by a steal frame. This design has been around since an even stronger quake hit in 1960.
The idea for this design is that if the beams break, than the steel reinforcement should be able to withstand the force and keep the building upright.
The other reason that this quake was not as devastating as Haiti’s was because its epicenter was 21 miles underground and of-shore. Haiti’s quake was only 8 miles underground and right on the edge of Port-au-Prince.