12:59AM: Moderate Earthquake West of Trinidad. Did you feel it?

At 12:59AM Tuesday 15th January 2019, a Magnitude 5.0 earthquake occurred 8 km SE of Carúpano, Venezuela and 188.4 KM W of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. This event occurred at a shallow depth of 7.8 kilometers. This event was reported felt in Carúpano, Venezuela as well as parts of Western Trinidad such as Palo Seco and Chaguanas.

Several scientific agencies have reported preliminary and reviewed solutions for this earthquake. The USGS, GEOFON and UWI SRC‘s solutions both have the earthquake in a similar location to FUNVISIS, around a depth of 10.0 Kilometers. The GEOFON magnitude is slightly higher at M5.2, whereas the USGS magnitude remains at M4.9, as is the UWI SRC’s.

The reviewed solution from the Venezuelan Foundation for Seismological Research (FUNVISIS) has this event with similar parameters of magnitude 5.0, at a slightly more north position of 10.59°N, 63.21°W and at a similar depth of 7.8 kilometers.

This earthquake is likely an aftershock to the moderate M5.2 earthquake on at 1:08AM January 7th 2019.

Based on the depth of this earthquake, it likely occurred in the seismic zone 2 along a rupture on the El Pilar Fault, part of the Boconó-San Sebastian-El Pilar Fault system that runs across Northern Trinidad and Venezuela. This fault system is part of the larger South American plate moving parallel to the Caribbean Plate. 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 the Venezuelan Foundation for Seismological Research and is considered final.

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