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After the Earth QuakesElastic Rebound on an Urban Planet$
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Susan Elizabeth Hough and Roger G. Bilham

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195179132

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195179132.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 October 2021

Hazards of the Caribbean

Hazards of the Caribbean

(p.191) 9 Hazards of the Caribbean
After the Earth Quakes

Susan Elizabeth Hough

Roger G. Bilham

Oxford University Press

The Caribbean is a place of romance. Idyllic beaches, buoyant cultures, lush tropical flora; even the Caribbean pirates of yore often find themselves romanticized in modern eyes, and on modern movie screens. Yet it requires barely a moment’s reflection to appreciate the enormous resilience that must exist in a place that is so routinely battered by storms of enormous ferocity. News stories tend to focus on large storms that reach the United States, but many large hurricanes arrive in the United States by way of the Caribbean. Before it slammed into South Carolina in 1989, Hurricane Hugo brushed the Caribbean islands, skimming Puerto Rico and devastating many small islands to its east. Other hurricanes have hit the islands more directly. These include Inez, which claimed some 1,500 lives in 1966, and the powerful Luis, which caused $2.5 billion in property damage and 17 deaths when it pummeled the Leeward Islands and parts of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in 1995. Hurricanes also figure prominently in the pre-20th-century history of the Caribbean—storms that had no names, the sometimes lethal fury of which arrived unheralded by modern forecasts. Most people know that the Caribbean is hurricane country; probably few realize that it is earthquake country as well. After all, the western edge of North America is the active plate boundary; earthquakes occur in the more staid midcontinent and Atlantic seaboard, but far less commonly. What can be overlooked, however, is North America’s other active plate boundary. To understand the general framework of this other boundary, it is useful to return briefly to basic tenets of plate tectonics theory. As discussed in earlier chapters, the eastern edge of North America is known as a passive margin. Because the North American continent is not moving relative to the adjacent Atlantic oceanic crust, in plate tectonics terms, scientists do not differentiate between the North American continent and the western half of the Atlantic ocean.

Keywords:   bathymetry, concrete, guano, hazard, lateral faults, marine terraces, oceanic crust, paleoliquefaction, riverbank

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