How are you using the earthquake in Haiti as a teaching opportunity in your Physical Geography course?

We posed this question to Wiley author, Alan Strahler, and we are providing you with his comments.  The figures mentioned correspond to Chapters 11, 12 and 13 in the upcoming 5th edition of Introducing Physical Geography.

The earthquake occurred on the boundary between the North American plate and the Caribbean plate near the Puerto Rico trench. It was a rather shallow earthquake, along a strike-slip fault. At this location, the Caribbean plate is moving eastward and the North American plate is moving westward.    The Caribbean plate is one of the lesser tectonic plates.  In the 5th edition of Introducing Physical Geography, we have a National Geographic map of tectonic plates that shows the Caribbean plate.  

The island of Hispaniola, containing both Haiti and the Dominican Republic, lies along this boundary.   Although the boundary is marked by the Puerto Rico trench, at present the two plates are moving along a strike-slip boundary rather than a converging boundary.

  • The Puerto Rican trench is clearly shown and called out specifically on Figure 11.16, the tectonic features of the world.  It is also shown on the undersea topographic visualization presented in Figure 11.20. A new color map from National Geographic, Figure 11.25, also shows the North American and Caribbean plates.
  • Figure 12.23, one of our new multipart art pieces, places the transcurrent fault diagram and the photo of the San Andreas fault together on the same page for easier comprehension. This is the type of fault that caused the earthquake.
  • Figure 12.28 repeats the map of tectonic features from Chapter 11 and places it directly below our map of earthquake locations. This arrangement makes it very easy to see the relationship between plate boundaries and earthquake locations.
  • Earthquakes often trigger landslides, and early reports indicated this type of damage. Introducing 5e provides good coverage of landslides resulting from earthquakes. The coverage includes a block diagram of the Turtle Mountain slide (Figure 13.17) and a photograph of the Santa Tecla landslide (Figure 13.18), both the result of large, nearby earthquakes.