5:29 PM: Minor Earthquake South of Trinidad. Event Not Reported Felt

At 5:29 PM Friday 10th May 2019, a Magnitude 3.5 (MW) earthquake occurred 16.1 KM SW of Los Iros, Trinidad and Tobago and 48.1 KM SW of San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago. This event occurred at a very shallow depth of 5.0 Kilometers. This information was reviewed by an analyst at the Venezuelan Foundation for Seismological Research. This earthquake was reported not felt at the time of posting.

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.

This event is below the U.W.I. Seismic Research Centre’s threshold of M3.8 to report on their social media feeds. If you felt this quake, you can report it to them here.

Related: Earthquake Magnitude & Intensity

Based on the location and depth of the reviewed solutions of this earthquake, it likely occurred in seismic zone 5. This zone is fairly seismically quiet with regards to earthquakes larger than magnitude 3.8. Russo et al. (1993) defined this zone as a passive margin edge in the Foreland basin in North of South America continent, covering events with strike-slipmixed thrust, and thrust, around the Orinoco-Delta region in Venezuela with an average depth of 50 kilometers and a maximum magnitude of 6.5. Generally, we see episodic moderate (M5.0-M5.9) earthquakes.

This event was not reported felt across Southern Trinidad. Within 10 kilometers of the epicenter, earthquakes between magnitudes 2.5 to 4.2 have occurred in the past. The strongest quake in this area occurred 5.96 KM to the SSE of today’s earthquake at 9.9N, 61.7W on July 20th, 1960, at a magnitude of MD 6.1.

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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