Natural disasters in Mexico: earthquakes and volcanoes caused by tectonic faults and storms and flooding caused by the hurricane belt.
Why is Mexico so vulnerable to natural disasters and how could this change in the next 100 years?
Mexico has been hit by a number of devastating natural disasters throughout its long history. Tropical storms are common, sometimes resulting in floods and mudslides, and the area is also high in tectonic activity, resulting in earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. These natural disasters are the result of Mexico’s unique placement on the Earth.
Mexico lies within the hurricane belt. Hurricanes propagate across the Atlantic Ocean, due to the warm seas between Northern Africa and Central America. These hurricanes then move across Central America, often hitting the eastern coast of Mexico and manifesting in strong winds and torrential downpours. High wind speeds can cause damage to buildings and plant life alike, but the real devastation is caused by floods that occur due to the excessive rain.
Mexico is also situated near to a number of tectonic fault lines. Mexico is located on the North American plate, which pushes towards the Cocos plate, which makes up Mexico’s southwestern sea bed. As the ocean floor is denser than the landmass, the Cocos plate is forced under the North American plate. This forms a deep trench to the southwest of Mexico, with mountains formed along the southern coast. The rocks that are forced down melt, and this molten material is forced up, forming volcanoes across central Mexico. The constant moving of these plates also causes regular earthquakes in Southern and Western Mexico.
In the next 100 years it seems unlikely that these tectonic conditions will change, and since advancements in engineering continue to be made, there is potential for infrastructure in Mexico to be made “earthquake-proof”, hopefully reducing the number of fatalities per occurrence. However, there may be unpredictable effects on the hurricane belt, caused by global climate change, which could result in stronger and more devastating tropical storms. The only way to reduce these risks would be a global commitment to reducing the damage done to the natural environment.