2021 Guerrero earthquake

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2021 Guerrero earthquake
2021 Guerrero earthquake is located in Guerrero
2021 Guerrero earthquake
2021 Guerrero earthquake is located in Mexico
2021 Guerrero earthquake
UTC time2021-09-08 01:47:46
ISC event621041919
Local dateSeptember 7, 2021
Local time20:47
Magnitude7.0 Mw (USGS)
7.1 Mw (SSN)
Depth20.0 km (12.4 mi) (USGS)[1]
10.0 km (6.2 mi) (SSN)[2]
Epicenter16°58′55″N 99°46′23″W / 16.982°N 99.773°W / 16.982; -99.773
Areas affectedMexico
Max. intensityVIII (Severe)
Tsunami48 cm (1.57 ft)
Casualties11 dead (3 during the quake, 4 in the aftermath, 4 indirect), 23+ injured, 2 missing

A moment magnitude Mw 7.0 or 7.1 earthquake occurred near the city of Acapulco in the Guerrero state of Mexico at 20:47 local time on 7 September with an estimated intensity of VIII (Severe) on the MMI scale.[1][2] The earthquake killed ten people, injured more than 23, and left at least three missing. At least 1.6 million people in Mexico were affected by the earthquake which resulted in localized severe damage. The earthquake occurred on the anniversary of the 2017 Chiapas earthquake which measured Mw 8.2.[3] It was also the largest earthquake in Mexico since the 2020 Oaxaca earthquake,[4] and the deadliest since the 2018 Oaxaca earthquake which killed 14 people mostly by a helicopter crash.

Tectonic setting[edit]

Mexico is one of the most seismically active regions in the world; located at the boundary of at least three tectonic plates. The west coast of Mexico lies at a convergent plate boundary between the Cocos Plate and North American Plate. The Cocos Plate consisting of denser oceanic lithosphere, subducts beneath the less dense continental crust of the North Ameircan Plate. Most of the Mexican landmass is situated on the North American plate moving westward. Because the oceanic crust is relatively dense, when the bottom of the Pacific Ocean meets the lighter continental crust of the Mexican landmass, the ocean floor subducts beneath the North American plate creating the Middle America Trench along the southern coast of Mexico. Occasionally, the contact interface or subduction zone megathrust release elastic strain during earthquakes. Large and sudden uplift of the seafloor can produce large tsunamis when such earthquakes occur.[5]


A USGS ShakeMap of the earthquake showing the different shaking intensity around the epicenter.

The earthquake was a thrust faulting event located on or near the subduction zone boundary of the Caribbean Plate and Cocos Plate. The earthquake was first measured at a magnitude of 7.4 by the USGS, however it was later downgraded to 7.0. The earthquake occurred at a relatively shallow depth, only 20 kilometres (12 mi) below the surface, which would have amplified the shaking effect.[6] Earthquakes of this size according to the U.S. Geological Survey are 40 km × 20 km (25 mi × 12 mi) in rupture size.[1]

The earthquake occurred at the southern extent of the Guerrero Gap. The Guerrero Gap is a seismic gap on the subduction boundary which stretches from Acapulco to Tecpán de Galeana for 230 km (140 mi). Many seismologists in Mexico were on alert after the event because it occurred in a region where no major earthquake have struck for over 110 years, therefore was designated as a seismic gap.[7] The gap is capable generating a magnitude 8.0 or greater earthquake, but a similar-sized event in 2014 ruptured the northern segment of the seismic gap, therefore the unbroken segment could only produce a magnitude 7.8, or multiple smaller earthquakes.[8]


At least 8,700 structures across 40 municipalities of Guerrero were damaged,[9] affecting 15,000 people. At least 3,060 of them in rural communities.[10][11]

According to the Guerrero Civil Protection Secretariat,[10] 3,289 structures including at least 2,006 homes, 35 schools, 13 hospitals, six places of worship, and 13 hotels were damaged in Acapulco.[12][13] In the city, located 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from the epicenter, buildings swayed and there were reports of power outages and many gas leaks.[14][15] Utility poles and church facades reportedly collapsed and damaged many cars along Costera Avenue.[16] At least 51 buildings collapsed in the city. A total of 58 landslides occurred on a highway from Chilpancingo to Acapulco, and 11 from Chilpancingo to Iguala. Approximately 70 incidents of road collapses were reported, 58 of them between the cities Acapulco and Chilpancingo. Eleven reports of road collapses occurred on Mexican Federal Highway 95 from Iguala to Chilpancingo. At least 56 gas leaks were reported in Acapulco as well.[17] Highways and homes were also partially buried under landslides and rockfalls.[18][19] The earthquake generated panic in the city and drove many people out of hotels.[20] Minor damage was discovered in terminal buildings at Acapulco International Airport, prompting the suspension of operations until 11:30 local time the following day.[21] The air traffic control tower of the airport however, was seriously damaged when ceiling tiles and debris fell to the control room.[22] The quake affected 43,000 businesses in Acapulco 4,800 of which remained closed. Many indigenous groups residing in the mountainous terrains of Guerrero were also affected.[12]

More than 200 units at an apartment building in Diamante, Acapulco were abandoned by residents due to the extent of damage and fears that it was unsafe for occupancy. Another 26 buildings in the city were abandoned by residents, which spent the night sleeping on the streets.[23] The retaining walls of a school in the Primero de Mayo neighborhood collapsed, exposing its foundations and putting the structure at risk of a total collapse.[24] Rural settlements including Xaltianguis, Xolapa, Las Tortolitas, El Playón, La Sierrita, San José, Pablo Galeana, Las Marías, Agua Zarca and La Calera were affected by the quake, all reporting damage to homes and injuries.[25] A luxury three-storey-home in the Punta Brava ares of the city completely collapsed during the shaking.[26]

The earthquake knocked over the large, 50-year-old Enterolobium cyclocarpum tree on José María Iglesias street, an iconic tourist attraction in the Acapulco. The collapse of the tree disrupted traffic flow when it fell onto the street. At least 10 public service workers removed the remains of the tree at 08:00 local time on September 8.[27]

The Casona De Benito Juarez was another heritage center and tourist attraction that was severely affected by the quake. The building constructed in the pre-1950s suffered a complete collapse of one adobe wall, and had some large cracks. Fragments of tile, mud and stone which were used to construct the building were strewn on the ground after the quake.[28]

In the Acatepec municipality, the quake damaged 824 homes, nine schools and one church.[29]

At least 1.6 million customers in Mexico City and four other Mexican states lost access to electricity.[30] Alarms sounded in Mexico City activated by the country's earthquake early warning system, giving residents several seconds of advanced warning before shaking would be felt.[31] Power flashes and blackouts were reported in the Mexico City area, causing panic and residents to evacuate from their homes.[32] Earthquake lights, a type of luminous aerial phenomenon, were also reported across several cities in the country.[33]

In Mexico City, passengers on Cablebús gondola lifts were trapped on board for about an hour, as the system ceased operations during the earthquake.[34]


Rescue workers attending to the scene of a landslide in Cerro del Chiquihuite.

According to Héctor Astudillo, the governor of Guerrero, one person was killed in the town of Luces en el Mar in the Coyuca de Benítez municipality in a motorcycle accident and collision with a utility pole.[35][36] One person also died of a cardiac arrest in Puebla.[37] A third death was reported in Xaltianguis, Guerrero; the elderly woman was killed when a fence at a clinic she visited collapsed.[38] Three additional deaths attributed to heart attacks were reported in Acapulco.[39]

At least 20 people were injured in rural towns surrounding the Acapulco area during the quake.[25] Two people were injured in San Gaspar de los Reyes, Metepec, when a wall collapsed on them while they were on a motorcycle. The injured pair were taken to a hospital in Metepec where they received treatment.[40] In Orizaba, Veracruz, three people suffered nervous breakdowns when they were trapped in an elevator in the Regional General Hospital.[41]

Two days after the earthquake, on September 9, a man was killed in a vehicle collision on the Acapulco-Pinotepa federal highway near Acapulco,[42] affected by the quake.[43]

On September 10, at 13:30 local time, a landslide occurred on the Cerro del Chiquihuite hill in Tlalnepantla de Baz, Mexico City, killing two people and causing one injury.[44] At least three people; a woman and her two children were among the unaccounted.[45] The landslide brought large boulders which destroyed four homes and buried several others near the hillside. At least 80 residents were evacuated. According to the governor of the State of Mexico, Alfredo del Mazo Maza, heavy rainfall in the city, as well as the earthquake, weakened soil conditions on the hill, triggering the landslide.[46][47] Recovery efforts on September 14 uncovered human remains at the site which could be from the three missing individuals.[48] The remains were transported to the State of Mexico's Attorney General's Office where identification would be carried out.[48]

A 14-year old girl from Tortolitas became the tenth fatality from the earthquake after succumbing to her injuries sustained when a wall collapsed.[49]

On September 15, the Attorney General of Mexico confirmed the recovery of the body of a missing individual under the landslide at Cerro del Chiquihuite. The victim was identified as a three-year-old girl by her family members.[50]


Approximately ten minutes after the quake struck, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially issued a tsunami threat message for the earthquake which had a preliminary magnitude of Mw 7.4 at 50 km depth.[51] A small tsunami measuring 1.2 feet (0.37 m) was recorded in Acapulco at 01:54 UTC, five minutes after the mainshock.[52] The same observation station observed a tsunami up to 48 centimeters at 02:04.[53] The tsunami threat was called off by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center at 0339 UTC.[54]


The mayor of Acapulco, Adela Román, has urged residents to remain calm while the situation is being assessed.[55]

Authorities in Guerrero requested a Declaration of Disaster for the area in response to the earthquake.[56] The Declaration of Disaster status was granted later on September 9.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "M 7.4 - 8 km ESE of Pueblo Madero (El Playón), Mexico". earthquake.usgs.gov. USGS. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  2. ^ a b "CATÁLOGO DE SISMOS". Servicio Sismológico Nacional. doi:10.21766/SSNMX/EC/MX.
  3. ^ U.S. Geological Survey (7 September 2017). "M 8.2 - near the coast of Chiapas, Mexico". earthquake.usgs.gov. USGS-ANSS. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  4. ^ "M 7.4 - 9 km SE of Santa María Xadani, Mexico". earthquake.usgs.gov. U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 17 September 2021.
  5. ^ Harley M. Benz; Richard L. Dart; Antonio Villaseñor; Gavin P. Hayes; Arthur C. Tarr; Kevin P. Furlong; Susan Rhea. "Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2010 Mexico and Vicinity" (Open-File Report 2010-1083-F). U.S. Geological Survey.
  6. ^ "Powerful quake shakes southwest Mexico, one death reported". Reuters. September 8, 2021. Retrieved September 8, 2021.
  7. ^ "El último terremoto enciende las alarmas en los sismólogos". La Prensa. 9 September 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  8. ^ Agence France-Presse (9 September 2021). "¿Por qué preocupa el reciente sismo de 7,1 en el sur de México?" [Why is the recent 7.1 earthquake in southern Mexico a concern?] (in Spanish). France 24. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  9. ^ "Incrementan daños por sismo a más de 8 mil 700 viviendas: Astudillo" [Earthquake damage increases to more than 8,700 homes: Astudillo]. Enfoque Informativo. Retrieved 16 September 2021.
  10. ^ a b "Daños por sismo rebasan capacidad financiera y operativa, afirma Adela Román" [Damages due to earthquake exceed financial and operational capacity, affirms Adela Román]. Novedades Acapulco. 11 September 2021. Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  11. ^ Gilberto Guzman (13 September 2021). "Suman 7 mil 800 viviendas con diversos daños por el terremoto en Guerrero; van 15 mil damnificados" [There are 7,800 homes with various damages due to the earthquake in Guerrero; there are 15 thousand victims]. El Sol de Chilpancingo. Retrieved 13 September 2021.
  12. ^ a b "3 thousand houses, hospitals and businesses damaged: the effects of the earthquake in Guerrero". Noroeste. 10 September 2021. Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  13. ^ a b Sergio Ocampo Arista. "Otorgan declaratoria de emergencia a Guerrero por sismo" (in Spanish). Chilpancingo, Mexico. La Jornada. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  14. ^ "Powerful earthquake hits southern Mexico".
  15. ^ "7.0 earthquake hits near Acapulco, Mexico". KTLA. 2021-09-08. Retrieved 2021-09-08.
  16. ^ Agence France-Presse (8 September 2021). "Sismo en México: las fotos de los daños materiales en la zona hotelera de Acapulco". Mexico City, Mexico. El Comercio. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  17. ^ Karla Galarce Sosa (8 September 2021). "Van mil 80 inmuebles con daños considerables en Guerrero por sismo". Quadratín. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  18. ^ Francisco Zorroza (8 September 2021). "Reporta SSN más de 150 réplicas del sismo magnitud 7.1" (in Spanish). El Sol de Acapulco. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  19. ^ Eliut Patiño (8 September 2021). "Un muerto, daños estructurales y derrumbes tras sismo en Guerrero" (in Spanish). Meganoticias. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  20. ^ "El sismo que ha sacudido México, en imágenes". El País. 8 September 2021. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  21. ^ Roberto Valadez. "Aeropuerto de Acapulco suspende operaciones tras sismo; presenta daños menores" (in Spanish). Milenio. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  22. ^ Adriana Covarrubias (8 September 2021). "Suspende operaciones el aeropuerto de Acapulco" (in Spanish). El Sol de Acapulco. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  23. ^ Adriana Covarrubias (8 September 2021). "Inhabitables departamentos de la Unidad Vicente Guerrero 200". El Sol de Acapulco. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  24. ^ Celso Castro (8 September 2021). "Secundaria a punto de colapsar por caída de muro de contención". El Sol de Acapulco. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  25. ^ a b Celso Castro (8 September 2021). "Al menos 20 heridos en zona rural de Acapulco tras sismo". El Sol de Acapulco. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  26. ^ Francisco Zorroza (8 September 2021). "Sismo colapsa casa en el punto conocido como El Derrumbe". El Sol de Acapulco. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  27. ^ Enrique Hernández (8 September 2021). "Cae gran árbol de parota con más de 50 años tras fuerte sismo" (in Spanish). El Sol de Acapulco. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  28. ^ Enrique Hernández (8 September 2021). "Provoca sismo severos daños en la "Casona de Benito Juárez"" (in Spanish). El Sol de Acapulco. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  29. ^ "Van 2 mil 73 construcciones dañadas por el sismo en el estado; 2 mil 6 son viviendas" [Two thousand 73 buildings damaged by the earthquake in the state; 2 thousand 6 are homes]. El Sur Acapulco. 10 September 2021. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  30. ^ "CFE: Sin luz millón 600 mil usuarios en CDMX y 4 estados por sismo". Azteca Deportes. 7 September 2021. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  31. ^ Samantha Beech; Rafael Romo (8 September 2021). "Powerful earthquake strikes southwest Mexico". Mexico City, Mexico. CNN. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  32. ^ Davo Peñaloza (8 September 2021). "Lights Flicker Across Mexico City Following Powerful Earthquake". Yahoo! News. Storyful. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  33. ^ "Mexico earthquake: Lights seen in sky during tremor near Acapulco". BBC News. 8 September 2021. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  34. ^ "Passengers Stuck in Swaying Cable Car as Powerful Earthquake Felt in Mexico City". Storyful. 8 September 2021. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  35. ^ "Reportan persona fallecida en Coyuca de Benítez derivada del sismo de magnitud 7.1". Político MX. 7 September 2021. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  36. ^ "Un muerto, pocos daños y un gran susto por el temblor de 7.1 grados". El Sur Acapulco suracapulco. 8 September 2021. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  37. ^ "Tras sismo del 7 de septiembre, reportan un muerto en Puebla". www.milenio.com (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-09-08.
  38. ^ "Reportan segundo deceso por sismo en Acapulco". Quadratín. 8 September 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  39. ^ Heidi Nieves (8 September 2021). "Mueren tres prestadores de servicios turísticos tras el sismo" [Three tourism service providers die after the earthquake] (in Spanish). El Sol de Acapulco. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  40. ^ "Dos lesionados en Metepec al colapsar una barda por el sismo de esta noche" [Two injured in Metepec when a fence collapsed due to tonight's earthquake]. Agencia de Noticias MVT. 7 September 2021. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  41. ^ Mayra Figueiras (8 September 2021). "3 personas atrapadas en elevador" [3 people trapped in hospital elevator, scared and nervous breakdowns by earthquake de Hospital, susto y crisis nerviosas por sismo]. El Sol de Orizaba. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  42. ^ "Muere atropellado sobre la carretera en la zona rural de Acapulco". Quadratín. 9 September 2021. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  43. ^ "Atropellan y matan a comerciante en la carretera Acapulco-Pinotepa". Ahora Guerrero. 9 September 2021. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  44. ^ Pablo Ferri; Alejandro Santos Cid (10 September 2021). "Al menos dos muertos y 10 desaparecidos en Tlalnepantla tras un derrumbe en el cerro Chiquihuite" [At least two dead and 10 missing in Tlalnepantla after a collapse on the Chiquihuite hill]. Tlalnepantla de Baz, Mexico. El País. Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  45. ^ "Autoridades del Edomex confirmaron una mujer y sus dos hijos continúan desaparecidos tras el derrumbe en el Cerro del Chiquihuite" [Edomex authorities confirmed a woman and her two children are still missing after the collapse in the Cerro del Chiquihuite] (in Spanish). López-Dóriga Digital. EFE. 12 September 2021. Retrieved 12 September 2021.
  46. ^ Verza, María (11 September 2021). "At least 1 dead, 10 missing in landslide near Mexico City". Associated Press. Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  47. ^ "Cuatro desaparecidos en deslave de Cerro del Chiquihuite en Tlalnepantla" [Four missing in the Cerro del Chiquihuite landslide in Tlalnepantla]. Código San Luis. 10 September 2021. Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  48. ^ a b Sánchez, Eva (14 September 2021). "Encuentran material genético de tres personas en zona de derrumbe del Chiquihuite" [They find genetic material of three people in the Chiquihuite landslide zone]. Tlalnepantla, Mexico. DigitalMex. Retrieved 14 September 2021.
  49. ^ Ana Castro (11 September 2021). "Muere joven en Acapulco por caída de un muro durante sismo". El Debate. Retrieved 12 September 2021.
  50. ^ "FGJEM confirma que cuerpo hallado en Cerro del Chiquihuite es de Mía de tres años" [FGJEM confirms that the body found in Cerro del Chiquihuite is Mia's three years old]. Noticias de última hora. 15 September 2021. Retrieved 15 September 2021.
  51. ^ "TSUNAMI MESSAGE NUMBER 1". Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. 8 September 2021. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  52. ^ "Tsunami Message Number 2". Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  53. ^ "Tsunami Message Number 3". Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  54. ^ "TSUNAMI MESSAGE NUMBER 3". Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. 8 September 2021. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  55. ^ "Reportan caída de barda en bulevar Las Naciones de Acapulco por sismo de 7 grados". Político MX. 7 September 2021. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  56. ^ Francisco Zorroza (8 September 2021). "Acuerda gobierno de Guerrero solicitar declaratoria de desastre" (in Spanish). El Sol de Acapulco. Retrieved 9 September 2021.

External links[edit]