6:15PM: Minor Earthquake West of Trinidad. Event Not Reported Felt.

At 6:15PM Saturday 27th April 2019, a Magnitude 3.8 (MW) earthquake occurred 30.5 KM NW of Cedros, Trinidad and Tobago and 70.3 KM W of San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago. This event occurred at a shallow depth of 16.7 Kilometers. This information was reviewed by an analyst at the Venezuelan Foundation for Seismological Research.

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. The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre published a preliminary solution for this event, calculating as a magnitude 3.7 (MD), at a depth 10 kilometers, slightly more north and west of FUNVISIS’ solution at 10.29°N, 62.26°W. Note that this information is preliminary and subject to change upon review.

Related: Earthquake Magnitude & Intensity

Based on the location and depth of the reviewed solutions of this earthquake, it likely occurred in seismic zone 3, where a complex network of main faults and its conjugate faults interact in the Gulf of Paria as the Los Bajos and Warm Springs faults from on-land Trinidad meets the El Pilar fault. Here, seismicity is fairly high, with quakes generally shallow to moderate depth, up to 50 kilometers deep.

The UWI SRC has stated during a Q&A of the earthquake swarm between January and February 2018, faults in the Gulf of Paria are capable of generating a magnitude 6.5 or greater earthquake.

This event was not reported felt across Trinidad nor Venezuela. Within 15 kilometers of the epicenter of this quake, earthquakes between magnitudes 4.0 to 4.7 have occurred in the past. The strongest quakes in this location in recent times occurred on March 4th 2017 and January 26th 2018, both magnitudes 4.8. The January 2018 earthquake was associated with a seismic swarm in the Gulf of Paria, which lasted nearly 2 months.

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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