A major magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck north of Jamaica at 3:10 PM. Severe shaking was reported across parts of Northwestern Jamaica, with moderate to heavy damage possible.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has sent an alert stating that hazardous tsunami waves are possible for coasts of Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Belize, Honduras and Mexico
3:46 PM – Tsunami Threat Message 3
3:41 PM – Tsunami Threat Message 2
No tsunami alerts, watches or warnings are in effect for Trinidad and Tobago as there is no threat to our country.
Note that different mangitudes will be reported across online platforms and this is normal during early periods following a large earthquake.
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 the uncertainty of that data. This is generally accepted within the scientific community.
Based on the location and depth of this earthquake, it is tectonic in origin and occurred within the Caribbean Plate, above the subducting South American plate to the east.
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, across the Eastern Caribbean, a seismically active area, earthquakes of this magnitude, up to M8.0 and greater, are possible 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.
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.