I was just reading a comment on a blog from a Chilean citizen that says so far (as of 2 1/2 hours ago, anyway) there were 122 confirmed deaths from this morning’s earthquake in Chile, which rang up an 8.8 on the Richter scale.
Most folks immediately thought of Haiti when they got the news. The power of this quake compared to the one that wrecked Port-Au-Prince is enormous. The Richter scale is logarithmic, meaning that a quake of magnitude 7.5 is 10 times as powerful as a 6.5 and 100 times as powerful as a 5.5. The Haiti quake was a 7.0, so if I did my calculations right, the Chile quake was 63 times as powerful. The difference in surface energy release between quakes different by one unit of magnitude is event greater: 10^1.5 rather than 10^1. So today’s quake yielded some 500 times the amount of effective destructive potential as the Haiti quake, although the latter was far, far more catastrophic in terms of damage and loss of life.
Not to trivialize what’s happening right now, but I’m glad that Haiti didn’t have to suffer an 8.8 quake, hard though it is to imagine things being any worse than they already are.