Poster of the Colima, Mexico Earthquake of 22 January 2003 - Magnitude 7.6

Tectonic Summary

This shallow earthquake occurred in a seismically active zone near the coast of central Mexico. The earthquake occurred near the junction of three tectonic plates: the North American Plate to the north-west, the Rivera Plate to the north-east, and the Cocos Plate to the south. Both the Rivera Plate and the Cocos Plate are being consumed beneath the North American Plate in a north-west direction. The slower moving Rivera Plate is moving north-west at about 2 cm per year relative to the North American Plate and the faster moving Cocos plate is moving in a similar direction at a rate of about 4.5 cm per year.

There have been several significant earthquakes near the recent event. In 1932 a magnitude 8.4 thrust earthquake struck about 100 km to the north-west. More recently, on October 9th 1995, a large earthquake struck about 20 km to the north-west. This magnitude 8.0 shock on October 9th killed at least 49 people and left 1,000 homeless. The most deadly earthquake in the region occurred about 170 km to the south-east on September 19,1985. This magnitude 8.0 earthquake killed at least 9,500 people, injured about 30,000, and left 100,000 people homeless.

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