Why Did the Haiti Earthquake Happen?

The earthquake in Haiti was the result of sliding plates between North America and the Caribbean. The plates are slabs that cover the Earth and resemble a giant jigsaw puzzle. The plates are constantly creeping past each other.

When the plates move past each other, stress is created. The stress is eventually released in a strong movement that leads to the fault along the plates moving. The movement leads to an earthquake.

In Haiti, the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault system generated the earthquake that devastated the country on Jan. 12, 2010. The earthquake was rated a 7.0 on the Richter scale and 6.2 miles below the Earth‘s surface. The epicenter of the earthquake was 10 miles southwest of the country’s capital city, Port-au-Prince. All of these factors contributed to the wide range of destruction and high number of casualties. Following the earthquake, aftershocks of 5.0 and higher were felt, which led to more destruction.

The Haiti earthquake was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people. Haitian officials claim more than 300,000 people died, but there is no way to know for certain exactly how many did. Immediately after the earthquake, 1.5 million people were left homeless and living in tents.