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El Salvador earthquake.

El Salvador earthquake

An earthquake with a surface-wave magnitude of 5.4 rocked El Salvador Oct. 10, killing at least 800. According to researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the quake's destructiveness suggests that it was centered under San Salvador and was too shallow to have been caused by the Cocos oceanic plate plunging beneath Central America. The Mexican quake that killed thousands of people last year (SN: 9/28/85, p. 196) was such a subduction earthquake.

David H. Harlow and Randall A. White at USGS in Menlo Park, Calif., say they suspect that the quake occurred on one of a series of surface faults that run through San Salvador, along a north-west-trending chain of volcanoes. They think the Cocos plate is pushing a sliver of crust, bounded on one side by these faults, toward the northwest, causing the faults to slip and making quakes.

The researchers have studied 31 shallow quakes of magnitude 6 or greater that have occurred since 1900 along the Central American volcanic chain. Of potential cencern, they say, is the finding that two-thirs were paired, with one large quake following another within 30 days' time.
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Author:Weisburd, Stefi
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 18, 1986
Words:193
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