Four earthquakes have rattled Mexico City in four months. The Monitor's Mexico City bureau chief explains how the frequent aftershocks have kept earthquakes on the mind.
Yesterday, at my favorite taco stand, a woman who cleans houses in the neighborhood struck up a conversation with the vendor. "I keep thinking I am dizzy, that the earth is shaking," she said. He nodded in agreement. "Ah, that earthquake," he said.
By now, weeks after the March 20 earthquake rattled Mexico City with a magnitude of 7.4 – the strongest the city has felt since a devastating 1985 quake that killed thousands – most residents here would have forgotten the temblor that struck just after noon, swaying buildings and sending residents into the streets. There were two deaths and plenty of damage, a reminder of how seismically vulnerable we all are.
But the quakes haven't seemed to stop, becoming a reoccurring conversation topic at taco stands, gyms, hair salons, parks, and water coolers across the city.
In fact, just four hours after the woman, munching on a taco of hard boiled egg and rice, complained of her imagined dizzy spells the earth shook again. Yesterday, a 6.4 magnitude quake struck western Mexico, and caused Mexico City, 200 miles away, to rattle. It is the fourth earthquake or aftershock of a magnitude over 6.0 to impact the city in four months. (Separately a 6.9 quake hit the waters of northern Mexico last night at 12:15 a.m.)
What is going on? This is what people are wondering: Is it just random? Does it mean the earth is releasing tension, meaning a mega quake like the 1985 one is less likely? Or is it the prelude to something bigger? Some have even joked on social media that this is a sign that the Mayan calendar slating 2012 as the end of the world, according to some beliefs, is actually true. Most of all – we all want to know – when are we going to start feeling like we live on stable ground again?