Structural vulnerability maps for small communities— case studies: Unión Juárez and Motozintla, Chiapas; Huexca, Morelos; and Jolalpan, Puebla, Mexico


After the major Mexican earthquakes that took place in September 7 (8.2 Mw) and 19 (7.1 Mw), 2017, damage was assessed in the communities of Motozintla and Unión Juárez in the state of Chiapas, Huexca in Morelos, and Jolalpan in Puebla, Mexico. In these communities, as part of a previous research, the structural vulnerability was assessed before the occurrence of these two earthquakes. In this work, we validate the vulnerability maps previously generated by comparing them with the spatial distribution of the damaged houses. Our results indicate that the structural vulnerability maps identified some of the areas where most of the damage was concentrated. However, other regions not previously considered also registered a high number of damaged houses. We believe that the physical location of houses is another main factor that conditions the level of earthquake damage. Based on these findings, we updated the structural vulnerability maps developed for the four studied communities. We believe that these new maps provide a more accurate assessment of the vulnerable areas, where the high vulnerability zones are regions where most damage will take place. However, in the low vulnerability zones, where the expected damage is low, a small percentage of moderate and high damage can also occur. Our findings provide valuable additional elements for the development of integral comprehensive measures for reducing earthquake vulnerability and risk and for strengthening the local civil protection plans including retrofitting of structures, earthquake response plans, and disaster education.

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We are grateful to an anonymous reviewer for his/her thoughtful review of this paper and for providing helpful recommendations. We appreciate the support of the local authorities and people of Unión Juárez, Motozintla, Huexca, and Jolalpan during our fieldworks. The National Autonomous University of Mexico under the Program to Support Research Projects and Technology Innovation funded this research (UNAM; PAPIIT Project No. IN111217).

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Correspondence to David A. Novelo-Casanova.

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Novelo-Casanova, D.A., Ponce-Pacheco, A.B. & Hernández-Hernández, A. Structural vulnerability maps for small communities— case studies: Unión Juárez and Motozintla, Chiapas; Huexca, Morelos; and Jolalpan, Puebla, Mexico. Nat Hazards (2021).

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  • Structural vulnerability
  • Vulnerability
  • The September 2017 Mexico earthquakes
  • Earthquake damage assessment
  • Motozintla
  • Unión Juárez
  • Huexca
  • Jolalpan
  • Chiapas
  • Morelos
  • Puebla
  • México