3 Minor Earthquakes Northwest & West of Trinidad. No Events Felt

3 minor earthquakes occurred on Thursday 13th June 2019 with none reportedly felt across Trinidad. These three minor quakes were recorded at Magnitude 3.3 (MW), Magnitude 3.5 (MW), and Magnitude 3.9 (MD) at 2:04 AM, 10:09 AM and 11:53 AM respectively. See below for more information.

At 2:04 AM Thursday 13th June 2019, a minor Magnitude 3.3 (MW) earthquake struck 84.4 kilometers northwest of Port of Spain, Trinidad. This event occurred at an intermediate depth of 73.6 Kilometers. This information (above) is preliminary from the Venezuelan Foundation for Seismological Research (FUNVISIS) and may vary when additional information is processed by analysts at FUNVSIS.

At 10:09 AM on Thursday 13th June 2019, a minor Magnitude 3.5 (MW) earthquake struck 214 kilometers west-northwest of Port of Spain. This event occurred at a relatively shallow depth of 28.9 Kilometers. This information (above) 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 11:53 AM Thursday 13th June 2019.
Preliminary Solution for the earthquake that struck 11:53 AM Thursday 13th June 2019.

At 11:53 AM on Thursday 13th June 2019, a minor Magnitude 3.9 (MD) earthquake struck 82 kilometers northwest of Port of Spain, Trinidad. This event occurred at a deep depth of 103 Kilometers. This information is reviewed from the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre. Preliminary information from the Venezuelan Foundation for Seismological Research places this earthquake slightly stronger at Magnitude 4.0 (MW) further north and west at 98.8 kilometers northwest of Trinidad and Tobago at a shallower depth of 32.4 kilometers.

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 of the 2:03 AM and 11:53 AM earthquakes, NW of Trinidad, they likely occurred in seismic zone 1. Within zone one, two main mechanisms drive seismic activity.

Firstly, the South American plate is beginning to rapidly descend into the Earth’s mantle as the detached oceanic lithosphere exists at depths between 50 to 300 kilometers. (Russo et al. 1993). This zone is one of the most active seismogenic sources in the Eastern Caribbean and has the potential to generate earthquakes up to Magnitude 8.0. Earthquakes deeper than 50 kilometers are characteristic for this subduction area. If the reviewed solution from FUNVISIS maintains the depth, then this quake occurred near the boundary of the subducting slab of the South American plate.

Secondly, at shallower levels, the North Coast Fault Zone, as well as the El Pilar Fault, part of the Boconó-San Sebastian-El Pilar Fault system, runs across Zone 1. These fault systems compensate for the stress built up as the Caribbean plate slides past the South American plate. Hence, most of these earthquakes from these fault systems are between 0 to 50 kilometers.

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 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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