Pedro Miguel Fault

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The Pedro Miguel Fault is a seismic fault that runs beneath the Panama Canal and near Panama City, home to approximately 1.2 million of Panama's approximately 3.3 million inhabitants.[1]

Seismic activity[edit]

Both faults are active, cause earthquakes every 600 to 900 years, and could cause ground slippage of up to 9.8 feet (3.0 m).[2] An earthquake in 1882 caused a regional tsunami.[1] A team of seismologists led by Tom Rockwell of San Diego State University found evidence suggesting both faults slipped simultaneously around 700 CE.[1][2]

Potential consequences of an earthquake[edit]

The Pedro Miguel and the Limón Fault system are a concern for geologists, as a strong earthquake centered on either could damage the canal, drain the lake that supplies water for the operation of its locks, Lago Gatun, and cause severe damage in the capital.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c d Larry O'Hanlon, "Quake risk threatens Panama Canal and City: Two large earthquake faults could expose area to serious shaking,", Discovery News, MSNBC, November 22, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Andy Coghlan, "Panama canal is due a big earthquake," Environment, New Scientist, November 18, 2010, revised November 25, 2010.

Further reading[edit]

  • Thomas Rockwell, et al. "Neotectonics and Paleoseismology of the Limón and Pedro Miguel Faults in Panamá: Earthquake Hazard to the Panamá Canal." Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America 100.6, December 2010. Online abstract.