Mexico’s back-to-back earthquakes, explained by a seismologist

The second major earthquake to strike Mexico in less than two weeks has caused catastrophic damage in the country’s capital. The magnitude 7.1 temblor started at around 1:15PM — cracking highways, collapsing buildings, and, so far, killing more than 50 people.

Less than two weeks ago on September 7th (local time), a magnitude 8.1 quake struck roughly 400 miles southeast from today’s. It’s not common to hear of such strong earthquakes happening back-to-back so close to one another, says John Bellini, a geophysicist with the US Geological Survey. “Usually you don’t have large ones in the same general region right away,” Bellini says. “But in highly [seismically] active regions of the world, it can happen.”

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