2:05 PM: Moderate Earthquake Strikes West of Trinidad. Light to Moderate Shaking Reported in Venezuela

At 2:05 PM Monday 9th September 2019, a preliminary Magnitude 5.7 (Md or Mt) earthquake occurred 265.02 KM E of Caracas, Venezuela and 335.40 KM W of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. A magnitude 3.6 aftershock was recorded at 2:25 PM.

There is no tsunami threat.

This event occurred at a shallow depth of 10 Kilometers. This information (above) is preliminary from the U.W.I. Seismic Research Centre, the authority for seismic and volcanological information in the Eastern Caribbean. Quake parameters such as location, depth, and magnitude may change upon review from a seismologist at the SRC.

This event was not reported felt across Trinidad. You can submit your felt reports to the U.W.I. Seismic Research Center.

FUNVISIS' preliminary solution for the moderate earthquake west of Trinidad at 2:05 PM
FUNVISIS’ preliminary solution for the moderate quake west of Trinidad at 2:05 PM

The Venezuelan Foundation for Seismological Research (FUNVISIS) also recorded this earthquake, at a preliminary Magnitude 5.3 (MW) further north and west of UWI SRC’s preliminary solution. According to FUNVISIS, this quake occurred 277.86 KM E of Caracas, Venezuela and 323 KM W of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. at a depth of 5.9 kilometers.

USGS' preliminary solution for the moderate earthquake west of Trinidad at 2:05 PM
USGS’ preliminary solution for the moderate quake west of Trinidad at 2:05 PM

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) also recorded this earthquake, at a preliminary Magnitude 5.5 (MWW) further south and east of UWI SRC’s preliminary solution. According to the USGS, this quake occurred 275.17 KM E of Caracas, Venezuela and 325.6 KM W of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. at a depth of 10 kilometers.

Note that across the globe, different seismic monitoring agencies use different methods, or several methods, for processing quake 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 well west of T&T’s seismic zones. However, earthquakes in this zone

This zone comprises part of the boundary between the Caribbean and the South American plate. The events that have their origin in the fault are shallow – less than 50 kilometers depth and they are usually characterized mainly by right-lateral strike-slip along the northern coast of South America.

The El Pilar Fault, in the vicinity of Carúpano, has a number of smaller, conjugate or perpendicular faults which frequently produce earthquake swarms. This location is hypothesized to have a higher frequency of earthquakes compared to other locations along the El Pilar Fault Zone due to a kink in the fault system, with higher stress levels building in this zone than elsewhere.

Within 20 kilometers of the epicenter of the main earthquake, since 1960, there have been over 32 recorded events, at all depths, with a majority occurring below 35 kilometers depth.

Extending the radius from the epicenter of this quake to 40 kilometers, this quake still remains the strongest earthquake to impact the region in recent records. The last quake to be recorded above M5.0 in this area occurred at 3:19 AM on August 11th 2008, at 10.466 North, 64.183 West at a depth of 10 kilometers.

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.

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