Saturday, January 16, 2010


If you have been paying attention to the news lately, you will know that there was a great big terrible earthquake in Haiti on Tuesday.  Lots and lots of buildings fell down, and thousands of people were killed because buildings fell on them.

Haiti is a country where most of the people are really poor, and their buildings weren't built very well, so that's one reason why they fell down.  Even the palace where the president of Haiti lives fell down, which is pretty surprising since you would think his house should be the best and strongest house of all.

Mom is worried because she sponsors a girl in Haiti.  This girl's name is Miolta, and she is 17 years old.  But she does not live in Port-au-Prince where the earthquake was the worst.  She lives in the mountains more to the northeast, so we hope she and her family did not have any buildings fall on them.  Mom sent some money to Save the Children because they are trying to help all the people who need food and water and a place to live after their houses fell down.

As far as I know, there aren't any basenjis in Haiti, but there are probably other kinds of dogs.  Some of these dogs might have got killed in the earthquake, which is very sad.  But Mom says that in Haiti, lots of the dogs probably live outside on the streets anyway, so maybe no buildings fell on them.  Finding food and water could be hard for dogs right now, though, because it is hard even for the humans.

Earthquakes happen because there are these things called "plates" way down under the ground and under the ocean.  The plates fit together sort of like puzzle pieces, but sometimes they get tired of being in the same place all the time, so they move just a little, and their edges rub together.  This causes the earth up above the plates to shake, and if it shakes really hard, buildings fall down, like they did in Haiti.  And sometimes there's a volcano, if lava comes up between the edges of the plates.  Or there might be a huge wave, called a tsunami.

Here's a map I found that looks like it has lots of swarms of bees on it.  But it's not really bees.  What it is is all the earthquakes of any size that happened anywhere in the whole world between 1963 and 1998.  What we can learn from this map is that there are earthquakes going on all the time, even if they are too little for us to feel them.  And also there may be swarms of bees all the time, but I don't know for sure about that.

Some people think that if you don't live on a fault line between two plates, such as the San Andreas Fault in California, you don't have to worry about an earthquake knocking your house down.  But this is not true because we have a place right here in Missouri that is called the New Madrid Seismic Zone, and the scientists say it could make a really big earthquake someday.

New Madrid is a town in the southeast part of Missouri, which is called the bootheel.  Except I think it looks more like a really short dog paw.  This area is in the middle of a plate instead of on the edge of a plate, so the earthquakes there are called "intraplate" earthquakes.  There was an earthquake there in 1751 and another one in 1770.  But nobody was really living there then, so no buildings fell down.  Then in December of 1811 and January of 1812, there was a really big earthquake, and it knocked some houses down.  Also it made the Mississippi River flow backwards and changed its course.

Since 1812, there have not been any big earthquakes in Missouri, but the scientists think there will be another one sometime, and it will be even bigger than the California earthquakes.  There are several places where big buildings could fall down, like especially Memphis and St. Louis.

I am happy to say that we live all the way at the opposite corner of the state from New Madrid, so there is not supposed to be a lot of damage here.  I am glad of this because I would not want our house to fall on us and kill us!

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