11:18PM: Light Earthquake West of Trinidad. Did you feel it?

At 11:18PM Sunday 13th January 2019, a Magnitude 4.2 earthquake occurred 8.5 KM S of Irapa, Venezuela and 128.2 KM W of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

This event occurred at a deep depth of 88 kilometers and was reported felt in parts of Southern and Western Trinidad. Based on its depth, it is unlikely this event would be reported felt.

The reviewed solution from the Venezuelan Foundation for Seismological Research (FUNVISIS) has this event with similar parameters of magnitude 4.1, at a slightly more north position of 10.60°N, 62.59°W and at a similar depth of 98.4 kilometers.

Based on the depth of this earthquake, it likely occurred within the subducting South American plate, under the Caribbean plate in seismic zone 1. It is possible that it may be an aftershock from the large M6.9 earthquake that rocked Trinidad and northeastern Venezuela on August 21st, 2018 and not the current aftershock sequence along the El Pilar fault in the vicinity of Carúpano, Venezuela.

This area typically has high seismicity. Strong earthquakes in this area have occurred in the past, with the largest being just over magnitude 7.0.

Earthquakes *cannot* be predicted – meaning the precise time, date, magnitude, depth etc. cannot be known ahead of time based on current research and technology.

Generally, in Trinidad and Tobago, a seismically active area, earthquakes of this up to M8.0 and greater are possible in area, and this statement has been repeated by seismologists at the Seismic Research Center for decades.

Each year, over 2,200 earthquakes are recorded in the Eastern Caribbean. On average, the Eastern Caribbean has seen a pattern of quakes within M7.0 to M7.9 every 20 to 30 years. That pattern has stayed true and was last seen in an event north of Martinique in 2007. 

Historical patterns indicate earthquakes at and above the magnitude of 8.0 on the Richter Scale have occurred every century or so in the region. The probability of another event at that level is high since the last >M8.0 earthquake occurred in 1843.

Now is the time to create or go over your earthquake preparedness plan and know what to do during, before and after an earthquake. See here for more details: https://www.ready.gov/earthquakes

This event has been reviewed by an analyst at the U.W.I. Seismic Research Centre.

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