3:09 AM: Felt Minor Earthquake West of Trinidad

At 3:09 AM Monday 6th May 2019, a Magnitude 3.8 ( MD) earthquake occurred 15.1 KM NW of Couva, Trinidad and Tobago and 16.3 KM SSW of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. This event occurred at a very shallow depth of 4.0 Kilometers. This information was reviewed by an analyst at the U.W.I. Seismic Research Centre. This earthquake was reported felt.

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 the uncertainty of that data. This is generally accepted within the scientific community.

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 reported felt across parts of Western Trinidad. Within 5 kilometers of the epicenter, earthquakes between magnitudes 1.7 to 4.2 have occurred in the past. This quake occurred along one of the many strike-slip faults in the Gulf of Paria. The strongest quake, along this fault, in this location also happens to be the most recent event. It occurred on September 9th, 2018 of magnitude 4.2.

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, events of this magnitude, up to M8.0 and greater, are possible in the 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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