12:50PM: Minor Earthquake Northwest of Trinidad. Did you feel it?

At 12:50PM Thursday 16th January 2019, a Magnitude 3.8 earthquake occurred 23.1KM NW of Güiria, Venezuela and 83.6 KM WNW of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. This event occurred at a deep depth of 87.0 KM and was reported felt, though there were few felt reports

Based on the depth of this earthquake, it likely occurred within the subducting South American plate, under the Caribbean plate in seismic zone 1. This area typically has high seismicity with earthquakes generally deeper than 45-50 kilometers resulting from this subduction zone. However, shallower earthquakes do occur, and are usually part of the transverse boundary at shallower depths where the Caribbean plate and South American plate slide past one another.

Strong earthquakes in this area have occurred in the past, with the largest being 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 U.W.I. Seismic Research Centre and is considered final.

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