It has been a large earthquake (with a magnitude Mw of 6.8), relatively superficial (at a depth of between 18 and 8 kilometers and, therefore, more destructive), with the epicenter on land and not in the sea, it has occurred around midnight (when the majority of the population was in their homes and many were sleeping), in a mountainous region (difficult to access, which complicates rescue efforts) and has affected a country with very old or flimsy buildings ( most infrastructure and buildings do not meet anti-seismic standards). Everything has come together so that, unfortunately, this earthquake that has shaken our neighboring country is causing so many victims and destruction.
The earthquake that has already caused more than a thousand deaths has been felt in large areas of Andalusia and the Canary Islands. And as Elisa Buforn, professor of Earth Physics at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM), recalls in a telephone interview, “An earthquake is generated because stresses accumulate due to the movement of tectonic plates. When a rupture occurs, energy is released, and part of that energy is released in the form of seismic waves that propagate. “If it is a large earthquake, it is normal for it to be felt throughout North Africa, in Ceuta and Melilla, and in the Andalusian area, as happened today.”
And the normal thing, he adds, “is that there continue to be aftershocks, there has already been one of magnitude around 5, and there will continue to be more in the coming days. Until when? until all that effort is released, but it is soon to know all the details of what has happened. And another problem is that the first earthquake may have greatly damaged some buildings that have not collapsed yet but the aftershocks may finish off those buildings.
The problem in the neighboring country, explains this expert, “is more or less the same as in the south of Spain. In the affected area of Morocco, large earthquakes occur but they are also separated by very long periods of time, so We forget that we live in a seismic zone. But from time to time these types of earthquakes occur,” says Buforn, who teaches a course on earthquake damage prevention at the Complutense University.
On the contrary, “In Algeria, which is also a very vulnerable area to earthquakes, earthquakes are more frequent but tend to be of lower magnitude.”