1973 Veracruz earthquake

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1973 Veracruz earthquake
1973 Veracruz earthquake is located in Mexico
1973 Veracruz earthquake
Date August 28, 1973
Duration 1–2 minutes [1]
Magnitude 7.0 ML [2]
Depth 84 km [3]
Epicenter 18°14′N 96°37′W / 18.23°N 96.61°W / 18.23; -96.61 [4]
Areas affected Mexico
Total damage Severe [5]
Max. intensity VIII (Severe) [3]
Tsunami No
Casualties 539–1,000 dead [6]
thousands injured [6]

The Veracruz earthquake of 1973, also known as El Terremoto de Orizaba, occurred at 3:50 a.m. local time (9:50 GMT) on August 28, with the epicenter located in the vicinity of Serdan in the State of Puebla. It registered 7.0 on the Richter magnitude scale and had a maximum perceived intensity of VIII (Severe) on the Mercalli intensity scale. The effects of the earthquake were felt in the Mexican states of Veracruz and Puebla in southeast Mexico.


The area that was damaged in Veracruz is tropical and mountainous; Pico de Orizaba, Mexico's tallest peak, is located there. The earthquake occurred during the rainy season, with heavy rain coming down before and after the event making search and rescue difficult. Serdán is located in the rain shadow of the mountainous area and has a more arid climate.[7]

Past events[edit]

Mexico's southwest coast is much more seismically active than the southeast area near Orizaba. Earthquakes there have been relatively infrequent. The last prior strong event in the region was on June 17, 1928, when a magnitude 7.8 event occurred south of Serdán. However, the area 100 to 300 kilometers south of Serdán does see more very strong earthquakes, with three events over magnitude 7 in 1928 alone.[8]


There was extensive damage, leaving hundreds dead and widespread devastation, in several cities in Puebla. The death toll was at least 600, with as many as 1,200 dead, and 212 casualties alone in the small city of Cuidad Serdán.[9] Major cities affected were Ciudad Serdán, Orizaba, Ixtaczoquitlán, Córdoba, Ciudad Mendoza, Zongolica, Rio Blanco, and Acutzingo.

In Orizaba, a twelve-story apartment building collapsed as result of the earthquake. Many of the occupants, up to 100, were sleeping at the time, and this was the number proclaimed dead at that site.[10]

This event was the most disastrous earthquake in Puebla until the 1999 Tehuacán earthquake.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Irvine 1973, p. 6
  2. ^ Irvine 1973, p. 1
  3. ^ a b c Meehan 1973, p. 1
  4. ^ Engdahl, E. R.; Vallaseñor, A. (2002). "Global seismicity: 1900–1999". International Handbook of Earthquake & Engineering Seismology (PDF). Part A, Volume 81A (First ed.). Academic Press. p. 682. ISBN 978-0124406520. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-06. 
  5. ^ National Geophysical Data Center / World Data Service (NGDC/WDS), Significant Earthquake Database, National Geophysical Data Center, NOAA, doi:10.7289/V5TD9V7K 
  6. ^ a b USGS (September 4, 2009), PAGER-CAT Earthquake Catalog, Version 2008_06.1, United States Geological Survey 
  7. ^ Irvine 1973, pp. 4, 6
  8. ^ Irvine 1973, pp. 4, 5
  9. ^ Frohlich, Cliff (2006). Deep earthquakes. Cambridge University Press. p. 479. ISBN 978-0-521-82869-7. 
  10. ^ "12-Story Apartment Collapses in Temblor; 100 Occupants Perish". The Los Angeles Times. August 29, 1973. 


External links[edit]