Abstract

The first written evidence of earthquakes in the Americas is represented as pictograms in codices and annals drafted in the first few years after the Spanish conquest. The main source of earthquakes in pre‐Hispanic times comes from the codex Telleriano‐Remensis. There are 12 earthquakes reported in the Telleriano‐Remensis, from 1460 to 1542. Earthquakes reported in this codex show the date of occurrence of the earthquake and other natural phenomena and social events. However, there is little information on the damage or on the precise location where the earthquakes were felt. Thus, although they represent the first written chronology of earthquakes in the Americas, little seismological information can be extracted from them. In contrast, there are other accounts written after the Spanish conquest in 1521 that report political and social events that occurred prior to the downfall of the Aztec empire. In some of these annals, there is information on the locations affected by the earthquakes and on the damage caused. In one case, these historical accounts reveal damage and ground effects that suggest the presence of a crustal earthquake near Mexico City. A second interesting earthquake is dated in 1507. The reports indicate damage and landslides near the Guerrero seismic gap, in the region occupied by the Yope culture. This earthquake appears to be a great earthquake in this part of the subduction zone where no large subduction earthquakes have occurred at least in the past 120 yr.

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