Socorro Earthquake 1 – New Mexico – July 16, 1906

Considerable damage was done to homes but little loss of life, as far as is known, because of the low population density in 1906.

On July 16 of 1906 Socorro, a town in New Mexico in the Valley of the Rio Grande, 150 miles north of the Mexican border, experienced an earthquake with a magnitude of at least 7. Numerous tremors preceded the event of July 16. They began on July 2 and there were equally numerous aftershocks that followed. Albuquerque, a hundred miles north of Socorro and even San Antonio in Texas, more than five hundred miles away, were shaken by this earthquake. Within the town of Socorro the walls of adobe houses were cracked and brick chimneys thrown down. Many people left their homes and lived in tents for a time to avoid the risk of their homes collapsing on them. The Socorro Hotel, a brick building in the eastern part of the town, had to be abandoned because of the severe damage it sustained.

The ground movements experienced during this earthquake were unusual. Boulders rolled on to railway tracks, breaking the tracks in some places and destroying ties elsewhere. Fissures formed in the ground near the center of the town and the land surface moved in waves as if it had been a lake. The entire business block in the center of town was very heavily damaged. Newspapers, in one or two cases, provided sensational accounts of what happened. One reported that the temperature of nearby hot springs had increased and another that the entire town of Socorro was in ruins with all its inhabitants fleeing. These were subsequently recognized as being false. In addition, as had happened prior to the earthquake, aftershocks in the form of recurring smaller tremors continued throughout the following months right up to the major event of November 15 of the same year.

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