Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Costa Rican Earthquake: Antes y Después

As many of you may already know, on January 8th, a devastating earthquake hit Costa Rica. It registered 6.2 on the Richter Scale and caused massive mudslides around Volcán Poás, killing around 40 people and causing massive destruction to many people's homes.

At the time of the earthquake I was in Santa Fe de Guatuso, a place that is not incredibly from the epicenter but very flat and not prone to mudslides. I could feel the incredible force of the earth beneath me, but the amplitude of the movements was great, causing a forceful swaying of the house back and forth without any damage to its structure. I assured my family back in the States that "not a single tchotchke fell from atop the TV". Anyone who's seen the living room of a typical tico home knows what I'm talking about.

Of course, the earthquake was no laughing matter for the many people near the epicenter and their relatives across the country. Thanks to these photos provided by the Costa Rican Volcanology and Seismology Observatory (OVSICORI-UNA) you can get a good idea of the earthquake's severity:

The La Paz Waterfall, before and after the quake

The Río Sarapiquí valley after massive mudslides

A Costa Rican soda (diner) near the epicenter, demolished


Jill said...

Hi. I am going to El Salvador this June to construct a biodigester, with Engineers Without Borders. I am aware of the high seimic activity and wanted to know if the biodigesters you help build in Costa Rica were damaged by the recent seimic activity or if they were build within a seimic building code. We are building a biodigester tank. Thanks

Thomas Carmona said...

I am not aware of any problems with the biodigesters we built. If they were much closer to the epicenter there might have been some cracks in the cement walls. However, minor cracking shouldn't be a problem when you have very clay-like soil with poor drainage like we do. So, to put it bluntly, if seismic occurrences are affecting your biodigester you will likely have greater things to worry about.

Kristinn said...

Hi, I was a an exchange student in cr when the earthquake occured. I lived in Carrizal de Alajuela, which, as I surely don't need to tell you, is very close to Poás. I was eating lunch when it happened, and my gallo pinto went all over the floor and all the TV´s in the house (big house with grampa and grandma and tíos y tías) fell over. One wall allmost came down, but miraclously the only part of the house that has a second story didn't come down, which suprised me because it's so rangly that it looks like it could be blown down by the flap of a butterflys wing. We spent the night in the yard, the family scared of eventual after-quakes, but it was an experience of a life.
Anyway love this site, fond memories arise when reading about the use of apretar, ocupar (which really confused me at first) and vasilar. Have you done a "word of the day" with hulla? As in "hacer hulla" as in make noise?

lots in costa rica said...

That earthquake was terrible, but the country continue being beautiful.

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