New earthquake risk map will place Santa Elena Province in zone of increased risk

May 5, 2016 | 10 comments

It’s not good news for real estate agents, china shop owners, or the Chamber of Commerce, but when a new version of Ecuador earthquake risk map is compiled it will show an increased possibility of devastating earthquakes in Satna Elena and Guayas Province.

Ecuador's earthquake risk map will be revised.

Ecuador’s earthquake risk map will be revised.

Although current maps show Santa Elena and Guayas in an area of moderate earthquake risk, former United States Geological Survey (USGA) scientist Larry Edenfield says that information from the April 16 earthquake near Manta will be used to redraw the map. “These maps are updated after every major earthquake,” he says. “New data will show an area to be at greater or lesser risk depending on the data collected. The pattern of recent earthquakes on Ecuador’s coast indicates a greater risk for the southern coast than has previously been indicated,” he says.

Edenfield says historical data through the early 20th century showed the area of greatest seismic risk in Ecuador to be from Esmeraldas Province in the north to the Colombian border. Since then, however, there have been more strong quakes in, or offshore of, Manabi Province.

“Besides the recent earthquake, we have the experience of the 7.2 quake in 1998 near Bahia de Caraquez,” he says. “This tells us that we need to revise our maps to reflect the danger to the south in Santa Elena and Guayas. “This really isn’t surprising since we know these areas are only miles form the continental subduction fault,” says Edenfield. “Going back hundreds of years, we see evidence of massive quakes in this zone but they don’t occur quite as frequently as they do further north.”

Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute (GI) is in the process of evaluating information from the April earthquake, says Edenfield. “There is a tremendous amount of data to be looked at, not only for GI but by the USGA, which is working with Ecuadorian scientists.

Edenfield says that earthquake risk maps, which reflect danger by in shades of orange, or by risk zones numbered from one to five, or one to six, are mostly for the general public. “Earthquake prediction is an inexact science and this is just one tool we use for the purpose of education.”


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