How to analyze and visualize the seismic history of Mexico using data from the SSN (National Seismological Service)
As I began writing this article on September 30th of last year, another month came to an end, but this is no ordinary month. For many Mexicans, it represents an ongoing concern, as it is well-remembered that this particular month has often witnessed our country being shaken by earthquakes, often of significant intensity. This article aims to provide readers with valuable insights into the seismic history of Mexico through data analysis and visualization. While it doesn’t make predictions or formulate policies, it offers a deeper understanding of seismic trends and patterns. By gaining this knowledge, readers can be better prepared for seismic events and contribute to informed decision-making regarding construction and disaster preparedness.
One date, in particular, stands out and has motivated this article: September 19th. On this date in 1985, Mexico experienced the most devastating earthquake on record, with a magnitude of 8.1 on the Richter scale. Approximately 40,000 people lost their lives, and nearly 4,000 were rescued from the rubble of countless buildings and houses that crumbled due to the tectonic movement.
32 years have passed since then, and in 2017, Mexicans were once again surprised on September 19th by a 7.1 magnitude Richter scale earthquake, reopening the wounds of 1985 for many who lived through that catastrophe. It wasn’t until 2017 that I understood why my parents get so nervous at the first sound of the seismic alert installed in Mexico City, which allows us to anticipate what’s coming a few seconds in advance at least. Before 2017, I didn’t take the alarm’s sound seriously, but experiencing an earthquake on the ninth floor (where I used to work), from where you can see the dust clouds of nearby buildings collapsing, hear the unified screams of terrified people while the building creaks as if it’s about to break, and the movements throw you to the ground, marks you for life.