Earthquake Case Study: Port-au-Prince, Haiti

  • Created by: Ellen
  • Created on: 19-08-14 12:45


  • Occured on the 12th January 2010
  • 7 on the Richter Scale
  • In Haiti, 70% of the population live on less than $2 a day


  • Haiti sits on a complex strike-slip fault that shares similarities with the San Andreas fault system
  • At the fault line the Caribbean and North American plates slide past one another in an east-west direction. Friction builds up until one plate suddenly 'pings' back up.
  • In 2008 scientists discovered that the plates which had been moving at an average of 7mm a year since 1751, had become stuck.
  • The epicentre was 242m southwest from the capital of Haiti and had a shallow focus of 13km.

Primary effects:

  • Between 230,000 and 250,000 died - mainly due to collapsing buildings.
  • Port-au-Prince (home to 2 million people) was flattened in less than 60 seconds.
  • Lateral spreading resulted in ground slumping.
  • 50% of buildings collapsed including key government buildings.
  • Liquefaction of looser sediments caused building foundations to subside.
  • Infrastructure was brought down - the main port subsided, roads cracked and were blocked by debris etc.
  • 1.5 million became homeless.
  • Damage was localised - a small localised tsunami killed 7 people.

Secondary effects:

  • Strong aftershocks - including a 6.1 magnitude earthquake…


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