As the disaster in Haiti continues to develop, the magnitude of destruction is a cruel reminder of the power of mother nature.
Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the island of Hispanola in the Caribbean. The island is the boundary between two tectonic plates, large puzzle pieces that make up the Earth's crust. When these plates rub up against each other and release energy, you have an earthquake.
Earthquakes are not uncommon in Haiti, but the size of this one made it devastating.
"In an area like this where people are poor, homes are not well constructed, any type of major earthquake event that's focused on the area is going to wind up destroying the buildings," UNCW geology professor Bill Harris said. "This is not a wealthy nation. This is going to go on for years. This recovery will take years."
This quake ranks a powerful 7.0 on the Richter Scale. And has also spawned dozens of aftershocks in the area.
Dr. Harris said if an earthquake like this hit the United State, it would still be a disaster, but our infrastructure and the strength of our buildings would make it far less of a disaster than in Haiti.