Panama sits on the eastern edge of the “Ring of Fire.”
The “Ring of Fire” has 452 volcanoes and is home to over 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes. Here in Chiriqui Province we sit in the shadow of Volcan Barú. One of the dormant ones. Shhhh. Don’t wake it up.
About 90% of the world’s earthquakes and 89% of the world’s largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire.
I’ve lived most of my life (so far) in the hurricane magnets of Cape Cod, southeast Florida and New Orleans. One of the few good things about hurricanes, besides providing shovel-ready jobs for construction workers in the areas they hit, is that you know about them days and sometimes weeks before they nail ya so you have a chance to run away and hide somewhere if you have any sense.
Earthquakes, on the other hand, just HAPPEN! No rhyme, reason or warning. BAM!
Since I’ve been living in Panama we’ve had several small quakes and they’ve all gone unnoticed by me. Well, I thought I’d felt one once a few months ago in Potrerillos Arriba, but there was no mention of it anywhere in the media.
This morning, around 2 a.m. (EST) as visions of sugar plums danced in my head the world started to tremble and shake. Dishes rattled in the cupboard and knives forks and spoons jingled in their holder. There was no doubt that THIS is what an earthquake feels like. It didn’t last all that long and if there were any after shocks I didn’t feel them and fell back to sleep almost immediately.
This morning I learned that we had a 5.0 quake with an epicenter according to the United States Geological Survey some 23 miles west of David. That’s about directly under my bed. In 2009 there was a 6.2 quake in this same area that, while not causing any injuries did result in some structural damage to buildings.
The cash cow of the country, the Panama Canal and Panama City itself, the home to slightly more than half of the country’s population isn’t immune from the threat of earthquakes. In fact, there are two fault lines in the area, one that transects the Canal itself. Quite a bit has been written about this and the impending quakes that must inevitably come.
(Anita Carter was Johnny Cash’s sister-in-law)