1:48PM: Moderate Earthquake SW of Trinidad. Event Reported Felt

According to preliminary information from the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center, at 1:48PM Sunday 28th April 2019, a Magnitude 5.2 (Md) moderate earthquake occurred 80 KM SE of Maturín, Venezuela and 208 KM SW of San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago. This event occurred at a relatively shallow depth of 10 Kilometers.

This event was widely reported felt across parts of northeastern Venezuela and few reports from parts of Southern Trinidad.

Several other seismological institutions have published preliminary solutions. FUNVSIS reported a preliminary magnitude of 4.6, occurring at a much shallower depth of 5.0 kilometers but closer to SW Trinidad, at and 9.213°N, 62.88°W. Other organizations such as the USGS, GEOFON and EMSC published similar results.

Note that across the globe, different seismic monitoring agencies use different methods, or several methods, for processing earthquake parameters. Each method has its limitations and will likely produce different results within the ranges of uncertainty of that data. This is generally accepted within the scientific community.

Related: Earthquake Magnitude & Intensity

Earthquakes here are relatively uncommon, with only nine quakes occurring within 20 kilometers of the epicenter of this quake since 1950. These earthquakes ranged from magnitudes 1.9 to 3.1. and depths between 8 to 27 kilometers. This earthquake is likely the largest recorded in modern times for the area. Just a jog to the west however, at 9.1°N, 63.3°W, a magnitude 5.8 (Md) quake occurred on May 14th 1961, recorded by the UWI Seismic Research Center.

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

Related: Earthquake Prediction and Forecasting

Generally, in the Eastern Caribbean, a seismically active area, earthquakes of this magnitude, up to M8.0 and greater, are possible in area, and this statement has been repeated by seismologists at the U.W.I. Seismic Research Centre for decades.

Each year, over 2,200 seismic events are recorded in the Eastern Caribbean. On average, the Eastern Caribbean has seen a pattern of major (M7.0-M7.9) quakes every 20 to 30 years. That pattern has stayed true. The last major (M7.0-7.9) quake occurred north of Martinique in 2007. 

Historical patterns indicate great earthquakes (M8.0+) 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.

Related: Earthquake Safety

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.

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