2:34 PM: Light M4.0 Earthquake Strikes West of Trinidad. Did you feel it?

A light Magnitude 4.0 (MD) earthquake occurred on Monday 17th June 2019 at 2:34 PM, striking 40.74 KM S of Irapa, Venezuela and 138.59 KM SW of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. This event occurred at a relatively shallow depth of 10.0 Kilometers. This information (above) is preliminary from the U.W.I. Seismic Research Centre (UWI SRC) and may vary when additional information is processed by analysts at UWI SRC.

This seismic event was also registered by the Venezuelan Foundation for Seismological Research (FUNVSIS) as a minor Magnitude 3.7 (MW) earthquake, striking 89 kilometers southwest of Port of Spain. This event occurred at a relatively shallow depth of 9.70 Kilometers. This information (below) is preliminary from the Venezuelan Foundation for Seismological Research (FUNVISIS)and may vary when additional information is processed by analysts at FUNVSIS.

Preliminary Solution for the earthquake that struck 2:34 PM Monday 17th June 2019 from FUNVISIS
Preliminary Solution for the earthquake that struck 2:34 PM Monday 17th June 2019 from FUNVISIS

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.

These events were not reported felt across Trinidad. You can submit felt reports to the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre.

Based on the location and depth of the preliminary solutions of this earthquake (both UWI SRC & FUNVISIS), 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.

Within 10 kilometers of the UWI SRC epicenter, earthquakes between magnitudes 4.0 and below have occurred in the past. However, within 10 kilometers of the FUNVISIS epicenter, this area is a highly seismically active area with over 500 quakes recorded since 1978, with the largest being a magnitude 5.2 MD. Regardless, this quake occurred along one of the many strike-slip faults in the Gulf of Paria.

This area has some of the highest seismicity in the Eastern Caribbean, and this location accounts for the greatest number of earthquakes in the Trinidad and Tobago region. 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 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.

Now is the time to create or go over your earthquake preparedness plan and know what to do during, before and after a seismic event. See here for more details.

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