Mexico Earthquakes Impact Cal Lu Students

Mexico experienced two major earthquakes in the month of September alone: the 8.1-magnitude earthquake along the coast of southern Mexico Sept. 8 and the 7.1-magnitude earthquake in central Mexico Sept. 19, according to an article written by CNN.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) posted data on the earthquakes saying that the Sept. 8 one was caused by “normal faulting at an intermediate depth” and that the Sept. 19 one was due to “normal faulting at a depth of approximately 50 km.”

William Bilodeau, a geology professor at California Lutheran University, further explained USGS’ statement on the cause of the quakes.

“The earthquake occurred on what we call convergent plate boundaries where the tectonic plates move together, and so you would expect convergence or stresses of compression, but the earthquake, as reported by the first motion solutions as they call them, was caused by extension and what we call normal faulting as opposed to reverse or thrust faulting,” Bilodeau said.

Carolina Zuniga-Mejia is a Cal Lutheran student who has family in both Mexico City and in the south, near where the two big earthquakes struck.

“A lot of the pueblos there, like the villages, were totally messed up, but they [her family] were OK. It’s just really hard being over here and having them there,” Zuniga-Mejia said.

Her father was in Mexico visiting her grandfather during the span of the earthquakes, and knowing her loved ones were in compromised positions caused her to feel unrest.

“With the second one, being that my dad was over there in Mexico and knowing I also have family in Mexico City, that one was more intense for me I think, just because I feel like I had more at stake,” Zuniga-Mejia said.

She also said her uncle was in a building that collapsed. Their family could not find him after the earthquake, and it took him a full day to get home due to the damage in the city.

Zuniga-Mejia is also co-president of Cal Lutheran’s Latin American Student Organization (LASO). LASO has not yet had the chance to address the concerns that have arisen following the earthquake, but plan to at their next meeting. While they are not set on plans to fundraise for those impacted, Zuniga-Mejia stated that she supports those who take the initiative to do so themselves.

Junior Michelle Handal is another Cal Lutheran student who was affected by the earthquakes in Mexico.

Handal said, “My mom sent a message to the group—our family group—and said, ‘There’s a big earthquake and people are screaming and they’re running everywhere.’”

Though her family is from El Salvador, her parents were in an airport in Mexico the day the tremors happened. They were supposed to take two flights, from Los Angeles to Mexico, and Mexico to El Salvador. There was a process with evacuation, checking for damages to the structure, sleeping at the airport and more, but her parents ended up safe and at home.

“They got delayed and they didn’t leave until the next day’s afternoon and they got to our home, El Salvador, at night,” Handal said.

There are individuals who have no friends or family in Mexico, but that does not mean that the tremors have not come up as topics of discussion among them.

Some have said “the big one” is coming to California on the San Andreas fault, with articles posted about it on CNN, Los Angeles Times and other news outlet websites.

Bilodeau said that there are major earthquakes around every 150 years, but that there can be long or short spaces between earthquakes.

“So, are we in a big space or are we in the short ones? No one knows, because it’s the future and you can’t predict them,” Bilodeau said.

Lara Santos