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Wildlife
10 Myths About a Local Earthquake

By Arianna McKinney

Myth 1: A seismic fault is beneath the center of Nicoya.
Reality: Based on research performed up until now, there is NO seismic fault just below the center of Nicoya. However, there is a fault below Nicoya Peninsula which may affect this area. Under the Pacific Ocean, 60 kilometers off the coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, the Cocos Plate, an ocean tectonic plate, collides against the Caribbean Plate, on which the Peninsula lies. The contact between these two plates results in a fault that extends towards the northeast and which lies approximately 15 kilometers beneath the Nicoya Peninsula’s western coast.

Myth 2: Only God knows when an earthquake will happen, so we can’t do anything beforehand.
Reality: In 1975 in China, efforts to predict an earthquake succeeded and many lives were saved by evacuation, but this was a rare exception. Despite much research about the prediction of earthquakes, nobody can predict or forecast earthquakes with solid evidence. However, experience from earthquake disasters all over the world indicates that in the place where an earthquake has occurred before, there will certainly be another one. We can reduce risks by taking into account lessons from previous earthquakes. Locally, the project Preparados Nicoyanos (Prepared Nicoyans) has been developed to prepare people for a future earthquake in this region.

Myth 3: An earthquake will occur when it’s hot.
Reality: An earthquake can hit at any moment and they happen by a movement of a seismic fault that lies deep in the ground, perhaps 15km deep. The heat of the atmosphere cannot reach to that depth, so there is no relation between the temperature of the atmosphere and an earthquake.

Myth 4: The congos howl when an earthquake is coming.
Reality: Although research has been done regarding animal behavior related to earthquakes, there is no solid evidence in this regard. To date, only one academic research study done by a biologist in 2009 showed a relation between animal behavior and an earthquake, citing the disappearance of many toads six days before a magnitude-6.3 earthquake and their return to the area six days after the earthquake.

Myth 5: Nicoya is on top of very strong rock, so when an earthquake happens, it won’t shake very hard.
Reality: The center of Nicoya stands on soft ground like sediment soil. As a result of erosion by rain and rivers, Nicoya Center is almost a plane.

Myth 6: When an earthquake happens, I should get under a “triangle of safety.”
Reality: A “triangle of safety” is the space formed under solid objects such as a sofa, tires or another strong structure that can hold up collapsed objects like walls or roofs. Because an earthquake takes place so quickly, ending up in a triangle of safety is generally a matter of chance.

Myth 7: You should throw yourself to the ground when an earthquake occurs to avoid falling into a crack in the earth.
Reality: The earth will not open up like we see in the movies. When an earthquake occurs in a region near rivers and/or the ocean, a place that has a lot of water in the ground, there is a possibility of a large crack opening, but it is not likely that someone would fall into the crack and die. During an earthquake, it is much better to look around where you are at and to stay in a safer place.

Myth 8: A large tsunami never occurs in Costa Rica.
Reality: There is no record/data to say if a tsunami would occur in Costa Rica or not. Nobody knew that such a giant tsunami could hit Indonesia like it did in 2004 because there was no record/data. In general, in a place where there are coasts and/or huge lakes, the possibility exists of having a tsunami large enough to cause damage.

Myth 9: A tsunami could reach the center of Nicoya.
Reality: No, the center of Nicoya is very far from the coast and the river. A tsunami cannot reach there.

Myth 10: When an earthquake happens, you should brace yourself in the frame of a doorway.
Reality: There is no solid evidence to support this action as a way to protect yourself during an earthquake

SOURCES: Shusuke Irabu, Jica/CNE NICOYA; Roy Acuña Prado, president of the commission of seismic code of the Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y Arquitectos

 

More Regional News

Samara Bridge Collapses under Trailer's Weight
Conavi started work on a provisional route

On Wednesday April 23th, machinery arrived to prepare for closing the bridge over Buena Vista river between Bar Las Vegas and the sawmill, the main route entering Samara from Nicoya. On Thursday morning, work began on a provisional route around the bridge by Vista Verde Restaurant. Thursday afternoon, around 12:30 p.m., the bridge collapsed as a trailer loaded with heavy stone was passing over it. More >

Samara Police Roughing It in the Community Hall
Police must wait at least two more weeks before repairs are finished

Renovations to the Samara Police facility, which began on February 10th, are expected to take at least two more weeks.  In the meantime, the police have been roughing it in the community hall and a small office lent by Hotel Giada. More > 

Survivor of Cinchona Earthquake urges Samara to be prepared
Local committee appointed to organize Samara for emergencies

“Never say never,” urged Silvia Mejia Zamora in tears during a community meeting in Samara on Wednesday, March 9th. She explained that she was one of those people who thought that a disaster like an earthquake would never really happen. She was just going about her normal business doing laundry. Her husband had gone to work and her children were playing when the 6.2 earthquake hit with an epicenter 4 kilometers southeast of Cinchona. Her cousin and his children died in the earthquake. “Losing a loved one hurts a lot and seeing your house, your town destroyed hurts a lot,” she said. More >

Tsunami Alert
Population on the coast should evacuate to higher altitudes

After an 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck Japan and 10 meter high waves hit the country, the National Emergency Commission announced a green alarm on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. As a tsunami might hit the coast around 4 p.m., coastal residents are advised to start evacuating to higher altitudes starting from 2 p.m. More >

Union of Forces Opened A Space For Student With Wheelchairs

Early on the morning of Wednesday, March 2nd, a group of students, parents and teachers at Samara Integrated Center for Youth and Adult Education (CINDEA de Samara) armed themselves with shovels. They were united by their enthusiasm to give a better quality life to one of the students in the program. Mas >

Bathers are unprotected by lack of lifeguards on beaches

“At 11:30 a.m. she came in, hugged everybody and said she wanted to go to the beach. At 1:30 p.m., she drowned". Just like that, with those words, Jim MacKenzie narrated Kattia María Umaña Chaverri's death, which took place on January 25th. The lack of warning signs on dangerous beach areas put the life of three teenagers at risk, killing their mother. More >

Presidential Visit
President Chinchilla Complains in Nicoya Over Lack of Money

At almost 12:00 p.m. and under a burning sun, a long line of people that almost reached the high table assembled, holding in their hands letters and envelopes of all sizes with petitions for the President. Irene Pacheco, the President's assistant, was in charge of receiving a total of 96 petitions. More >

Interview with John Perkins, author of best-seller
“Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”

“The people are taking back our power”

While the world’s attention may be on the democracy movement in Egypt, Latin America has also experienced a major move toward democracy in the wake of diminished power of the United States, according to bestselling author John Perkins. More >

New Dike Proposal for Nosara Meets with Doubts
• Project will cost over $3 million
• New community emergency committee named for Nosara

In a behind-schedule effort to comply with a resolution issued by the constitutional court (Sala Constitucional), engineers from SENARA (Servicio Nacional de Aguas Subterráneas Riego y Avenamiento) on Thursday, February 3rd presented a proposal to build an eight-meter-wide (24 feet) dike and sections of dikes using high-quality materials to diminish the impact of the flooding of the Nosara River during heavy rains.
More >

Traffic Police Seeks to Reorganize Nicoya's City Limits
• Heavy vehicle drivers invade restricted zones

The road chaos that has prevailed for the past five years in the city of Nicoya upsets and concerns its residents, who demand a reorganization.

Missing, fallen or misplaced traffic signs, a blurry road demarcation, vehicles parked on restricted areas or taxi stops and vehicles driving the wrong way down the street are just some of the irregularities seen in Nicoya. More >

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