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Monday, July 4, 2022

Mérida’s earthquake station abandoned, without explanation

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After opening in 2010, the seismology station in Mérida has been abandoned. Photo: Sipse

Mérida, Yucatán — While Yucatán felt the vibrations of last week’s earthquake, its seismology station was empty, secured with a rusty chain and padlock.

The small facility that tracked earthquakes around the world operated as recently as 2014, but at some point, was quietly shut down.

A reporter at Milenio Novedades noticed the outpost was abandoned and could not hunt down the reason why.

The Yucatán Seismological Station opened on the grounds of the General Cemetery in May 2010. It was fitted with state-of-the-art equipment installed by technicians from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and of the National Seismological Service.

Perhaps the outpost was seen as an extravagance since no fault lines run beneath the Yucatán Peninsula. But the ground did shake a week ago when a deadly quake rattled Oaxaca and Chiapas.

A rusty chain and padlock secure the abandoned earthquake station in Mérida. Photo: Sipse

Its epicenter was 600 miles away, but powerful enough to swing light fixtures and roil pool water. Little damage was reported, but residents were alarmed.

The Yucatán Peninula is surrounded by earthquake zones.

A fault-line runs 200 miles south, the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden connects Jamaica to the southern part of Haiti. An earthquake in the Caribbean Sea could create a tsunami that would rapidly reach the southern shores of the peninsula.

The Gulf of Honduras has been hit, as has the eastern Gulf of Mexico off both Campeche and Mobile, Ala., where there are two intersecting fault lines.

Mérida’s seismology station, apparently a victim of budget cuts, detected earthquakes anywhere in the world. But the live Yucatán seismograph as of today is a dead link.

Neither officials at UNAM or the Autonomous University of Yucatan (UADY) could explain why the station is secured with a rusty chain and padlock instead of remaining active.

With information from Sipse

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