Catastrophic Earthquakes in Haiti

Birds eye view of Haiti
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, so it doesn’t take much for death and destruction to occur when a catastrophe hits. More developed nations have higher quality construction for their infrastructure which helps to curtail some of the destruction when a major event happens. 

Additionally, developed countries have well-equipped first responders and hospitals that can handle disasters such as earthquakes. Haiti does not. Suffice it to say, there will be more injuries and fatalities for countries such as Haiti than in other, more technologically advanced locations.

Earthquake History in Haiti

Earthquakes have been causing extensive destruction on this island for quite some time. Starting from the 18th century, when the capital Port-au-Prince experienced severe damage twice within 19 years, the trend continues to date. 

During this century, the island has already been devastated by an earthquake thrice, with the most recent one striking on August 14, 2021. The quake of magnitude 7.2 struck around 78 miles from Port-au-Prince, killing, injuring, and displacing thousands of people, and resulting in millions of dollars of losses. 

Let’s take a closer look and understand why Haiti is more prone to earthquakes and get a detailed insight into some of the most devastating earthquakes that have hit the island recently. 

Why are Earthquakes in Haiti a Common Occurrence?

The Earth’s crust is made of tectonic plates, and each of the plates moves in a certain position. There are seven major tectonic plates along with ten minor tectonic plates. Earthquakes occur when the tectonic plates slowly brush against each other and result in friction. When there is enough buildup of friction, the fault lines suddenly move and lead to an earthquake. 

If you look at the location of Haiti on the map, it sits near the intersection of major and minor tectonic plates, namely the North American Plate and the Caribbean plate. Moreover, multiple fault lines cut through the plates near the island of Hispaniola, a region that Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, not all tectonic plates behave the same way. The transition from sliding past each other to smashing together leads to frequent and intense earthquakes. 

Haitian family outside of their cinder block house
Haitian family outside of their cinder block house in the town of Hinche.
Photo by SS

Part of the reason is the dense population of the island. A population of more than 11 million people results in more damage to lives when natural catastrophes occur. Moreover, many of the buildings are constructed using cinder blocks, which can withstand strong winds and hurricanes, but they are not very sturdy (as compared to concrete blocks) and are prone to buckling. Not an ideal structure when an earthquake comes along.

Most Devastating Earthquakes of the 21st Century 

Now that you know why earthquakes in Haiti are devastating, let’s look at some of the most damaging ones that hit the island in this century. 

The 2010 Earthquake – Port-au-Prince 

A large-scale earthquake that measured 7.0 on the Richter’s scale hit the island on January 12, 2010. The quake hit around 15 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, followed by two aftershocks with a magnitude of 5.9 and 5.5, respectively. The island experienced more aftershocks in the days that followed. The 2010 earthquake was the worst quake that hit the island since the 18th century. 

Communications were disrupted and led to extensive damage to life and property. The death toll for this earthquake is not known. However, it resulted in millions of casualties and hundreds and thousands of people being displaced due to the chaos. 

Initially, geologists believed that the earthquake resulted from the movement of the little Caribbean place towards the east; however, it was just an initial estimation. Later, geologists found out that it was a result of contractional deformation along the Leogane fault. Léogâne is a town is located about 19 miles west of  Port-au-Prince.

The damage that occurred due to the 2010 earthquake was fairly extensive because the origin was relatively shallow (at a depth of 8.1 miles), which increased the intensity with which the ground shook. Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas were among the worst affected. The island that was already recovering from the infrastructural damage due to tropical hurricanes in 2008 was not equipped to deal with a disaster of this magnitude.

In addition, since Haiti is considered to be the poorest country in Western Hemisphere, it did not have the resources to properly restore its infrastructure. Hence, international organizations, including the United Nations, had to work in collaboration with the Government of Haiti to establish a plan for reconstructing the island.

The 2018 Earthquake – Port-de-Paix 

While the island was still recovering from the earthquake of 2010 and its after-effects, another major quake hit the island. This time, it was not as intense as it was in 2010. However, it hit the island with a magnitude of 5.9. It struck around 12 miles northwest of Port-de-Paix, killing around 18 people and injuring more than 180 individuals. While there was a limited loss of lives, there was extensive damage to property, including commercial and residential locations. 

The earthquake was felt in Port-au-Prince along with the neighboring Dominican Republic and is one of the strongest hits to the Caribbean nation since 2010. 

The 2021 Earthquake – Nippes, Les Cayes

An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 struck Haiti on August 14th, 2021. The epicenter was 6.2 miles deep, and the tremor was strongly felt approximately 91 miles west of the capital. The resulting damage was extensive. However, it was much less than what the nation experienced in 2010. According to initial estimates, more than 1.2 million people have been affected by the quake with about 2,000 people have lost their lives. There was also extensive damage to infrastructure, including schools and residential buildings. 

To date, the 2021 earthquake is considered to be the deadliest earthquake that has hit the island since 2010. 


Haiti sits on the intersection between two tectonic plates, which is also a region of several fault lines. Hence, earthquakes are and may likely be a frequent occurrence on the island. The damage is always extensive because of the lack of appropriate infrastructural facilities on the island.

A Guide to Citrine

Citrine Mineral
Citrine – A stunning yellow gemstone to add to your jewelry collection 

With its beautiful sunny glow, citrine has been long believed to be a treasured gift from the sun. As a variety of quartz minerals, citrine gets its name from the French word ‘citron,’ which means ‘lemon.’ With colors ranging from lemon yellow to a rich honey gold, citrine can light up any piece of jewelry due to its warm sunny shade. The stone is more affordable than most gems because it is available in abundance like all other quartz gems.

History of Citrine

Citrine was one of the most popular gems back in the 1940s. Its bright color and dramatic proportions led this gem to become one of the boldest stones of the era. Citrine was often set with aquamarines and rubies in colorful jewelry pieces, including necklaces, brooches, and bracelets. 

What Does Citrine Symbolize?

Due to its bright color that emanates a beautiful golden glow, citrine is believed to symbolize optimism. In ancient times, however, this gem was believed to possess the power to protect one against evil words and thoughts. 

Where is Citrine Found?

Most citrines available on the market have been mined in Brazil. Bolivia is another country that has become a leading producer of the gem. In fact, Bolivia also produces a gem known as ametrine, which is the unique combination of amethyst and citrine. Additionally, citrine is also found in Namibia, Zambia, and Tanzania. 

Citrine very rarely occurs naturally. Most citrines start out as amethysts and are then heat-treated to become yellow or yellowish-brown. So, if you do get your hands on a citrine, it’s best to assume that it has been heat-treated. 

Before modern gemology, citrine was often confused with topaz. In fact, many people still refer to citrine as topaz quartz. The truth is that topaz is a completely different mineral that is not to be confused with citrine. 

How to Buy Citrine

As with any mineral, there are the 4 C’s guidelines you need to consider when buying citrine. 


Although citrine is generally thought to be a yellow gemstone, its colors can range from a light lemony hue to an earthy brown shade. Even though everyone has their own preference when it comes to color, it is important to see for saturated colors with an even tone across the stone. The most valuable citrine is the one with a saturated golden hue with fiery orange flashes. 


As with all colored gemstones, the same rule applies to citrine: the clearer, the better. Inclusions and blemishes can considerably degrade the value of a gemstone. Due to the fairly light color of citrine, you will often come across stones with very visible inclusions. However, since citrine is found in huge quantities, you don’t need to compromise on the clarity and quality of the gem. When buying citrine, make sure to search for eye-clean gemstones that have no prominent inclusions, cracks, or blemishes. 


With citrine being available abundantly, you can find them in some enormous sizes. Citrine is often readily available in huge carat sizes that can be used in eye-catching pendants or chunky earrings or rings. The best part about this gem is that you can buy even a 10 or 20-carat gem at a very reasonable price. 


Citrine is a fairly durable gem that can easily be cut in the most stunning shapes. Besides the basic cuts, this gem can also include some fancy carvings, cabochons, and even flower cuts. It is quite important to pay attention to the quality of the cut, as it is what ultimately determines the beauty of the gem. A well-cut citrine will emanate a brilliant sparkle evenly across the entire gem. 

How to Care for Citrine

Citrine is a fairly durable gem but isn’t as strong and durable as you’d want it to be. The facets of citrine slowly wear down over time due to the dust in the air. Although citrine has a stable color, exposure to high heat may end up deteriorating the color over time. Additionally, if you’re wearing a citrine ring, you will have to wear it very carefully since it can be prone to chipping. 

The best way to clean citrine is with mild dish soap and water. It is also recommended to take off your jewelry when applying creams or lotions. Moreover, make sure to store all your gems separately to keep them from scratching each other. 

Citrine vs. Yellow Sapphire

When it comes to appearance, yellow sapphire is the only yellow gem that comes closest to citrine. However, these gems differ in many other ways. For instance, while a yellow sapphire has a hardness rating of 9, citrine has a hardness rating of 7, deeming it fairly weaker than sapphires. Also, citrines are found in abundance, which is reflected by their affordable prices. Sapphires, on the other hand, are rarer and much more expensive. 

Citrine for Engagement Rings 

Although diamonds and sapphires are the most popular gemstone choices for engagement rings, don’t underestimate the power and beauty of citrine. With a rating of 7 on the Mohs scale, citrines are fairly hard and durable stones that can be used for engagement rings. The most popular engagement ring style is a halo ring with a pave band. Other options include large citrine solitaires and three-stone citrine rings that feature a stunning round or emerald-cut citrine stone in the center with two diamonds on either side. The beautiful shades of yellow also allow citrines to go well with different metals, including yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold. 

The Bottom Line – Why We Love Citrine

Citrine is the alternative birthstone for the month of November. Found in various styles, shapes, and some stunning colors, citrine is certainly a treasured stone. This gem is loved by many mainly due to its warm color, lovely shades of golden, and affordability. Whether you’re looking to incorporate a beautiful yellow gem in your necklace, bracelet, or engagement ring, citrine should be your top choice. 

How Do Glaciers Form?

The Alpine Glaciers 

Mountain or alpine glaciers are the ones that are formed on the mountainside and move downward over the mountainous slopes. It is possible for alpine glaciers to even create or deepen valleys as the accumulated ice exerts pressure over land, pushing it downwards. Alpine glaciers can be commonly found in almost all continents (except Australia). Some of the most famous alpine glaciers include Gorner Glacier in Switzerland and Furtwangler Glacier in Tanzania

Ice Sheets 

Unlike alpine glaciers, ice sheets are not limited to the mountainous region. Instead, they are more like a sheet of ice that spreads from the center in all directions. As the ice sheet spreads, it covers everything under the thick coat of ice, including plain areas, valleys and even mountains. Continental ice sheets are large ice sheets that cover a large area. As of now, the continental ice sheet covers most of Antarctica and Greenland.

Additionally, ice sheets covered much of Europe and North America during the Ice Age, when around 33% of the planet was covered with ice. As the climate changes, glacial ice sheets, so far cover only 10% of the land. Due to the ancient glacial ice sheets and the pressure they exerted on land, many of the landscapes on Earth exist in their present form. 

How Do Glaciers Form?

It might come as a surprise, but it all starts with a snowflake. However, it takes an incredible amount of snow to form and pile up as a glacier. Once the snow accumulates, the snowflakes, given their structure, begin to compress each other and pile up each year. When the snow accumulates year after year, it changes from fluffy and soft snowflakes into round ice pellets. With new snow coming over the buried hardened snow, the latter hardens and becomes even more compressed. Eventually, it changes into dense, grainy ice, which is known as firm

The process continues, and layers of firn build on top of each other. When the thickness of ice grows up to 160 feet, the firn changes from grainy ice into a solid mass, which is how a glacier is formed. However, it doesn’t happen overnight. This process of formation takes over a hundred years, which is minuscule compared to that age of the earth (4.5 billion years). 

Because of its weight, the solid mass of ice is so heavy that it begins to move. Moreover, the glacier exerts pressure on the underlying firn and snow due to its weight, which eventually melts without any temperature change. 

In the case of alpine glaciers, gravity plays an important role. However, some glaciers do not flow down the entire length of the mountain. Instead, the ice falls from the hanging glaciers to the larger collection of ice in the valley below. Avalanches and ice falls are common occurrences for alpine glaciers. 

On the other hand, the ice sheet spreads out differently. The giant mass of ice spreads in all directions and covers everything that comes in its path. However, the speed at which the glacier spreads varies because different parts move at different speeds. And it is because of the difference between the speeds at which the glacier spreads, there is tension within the upper part of the ice mass and consequently, you find cracks known as crevasses on top of the glacier. 

Crevasses can be particularly dangerous for mountaineers as they can open up and be quite deep. Another formation that you can find within a glacier is a deep, almost vertical pipeline known as moulins. They are formed due to meltwater on top of the glacier and are often much deeper, and go all the way down to the bottom of the glacier. 

Given that glaciers are a heavy mass of ice, they move due to their weight. Most glaciers move slowly, but some can move as much as 160 feet a day. These fast-moving glaciers are known as galloping glaciers

When the glacier meets the coast, it is known as a tidewater glacier. Due to constant interaction with water, the edges of the giant ice glacier break into the water, and this process is known as calving. The large chunks of ice that break as a result of calving are known as icebergs. 

Zone of Accumulation 

The area in which glacial ice forms is known as the zone of accumulation. In this region, more snow accumulates every winter compared to the snow that melts away during summer. The snow that is buried inside turns into firn and eventually crystallizes into glacial ice. Once glacial ice is formed, it flows away from the zone of accumulation under its weight. In the case of alpine glaciers, the glacial ice flows downwards, but in the case of ice sheets, there is a lateral flow of accumulated ice. 

On the other hand, there is a zone of wastage. It is the glacier area that experiences more glacial ice melting than the formation of new ice. 

The line that separates the zone of an accumulation from the zone of separation is the snow line, which may be visible at the end of the summer season. 

The Impact of Climate Change on Glaciers

The formation of glaciers is a long process. It takes more than a hundred years to accumulate enough snow that it converts into glacial ice. However, uncontrolled human activities, including greenhouse gas production, contribute to an overall increase in the global temperature. And, of course, it will eventually have an impact on glacial ice. 

According to scientists, glacial ice is melting at a much higher rate than ever before. And studies claim the change will be much more drastic in the next thirty years. Alpine glaciers are under the most threat to global climate change. In addition, the ice sheets are also melting, contributing to an overall increase in global sea levels. 

One of the key concerns associated with the melting of glacial ice is that glaciers are a source of fresh water. But once it melts and becomes part of the ocean, it no longer remains as a water source. Hence, with melting glaciers, the concern is not just about the rising sea levels, but there can be other consequences as well as in the future.