At 1:08AM Monday 7th January 2019, a Magnitude 5.2 earthquake occurred 14.9 KM SSE of Carúpano, Venezuela and 186.5 KM W of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. This event occurred at a moderate depth of 56.2 KM.
This event was reported felt across far western and southwestern areas of Trinidad, including Cedros and San Juan. Moderate to strong shaking was reported nearer to the epicenter in Carúpano, Río Caribe and Casanay Estado Sucre.
Please note that magnitude varies based on the reporting scientific agency. Other magnitudes are not incorrect, just different methodologies were used to arrive at the resulting magnitude. The USGS is currently reporting this earthquake at a shallower depth of 17.0 Kilometers and a magnitude of M4.6.
Based on the depth of this earthquake, it likely occurred in the seismic zone 2 along a rupture on the El Pilar Fault, part of the Boconó-San Sebastian-El Pilar Fault system that runs across Northern Trinidad and Venezuela. This fault system is part of the larger South American plate moving parallel to the Caribbean Plate. This area typically has high seismicity. Strong earthquakes in this area have occurred in the past, with the largest being just 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.
In Trinidad and Tobago, a seismically active area, earthquakes of this up to M8.0 and greater are possible, and this statement has been repeated by seismologists at the Seismic Research Center for decades.
Each year, over 2,200 earthquakes are recorded in the Eastern Caribbean. On average, the Eastern Caribbean has seen a pattern of quakes within M7.0 to M7.9 every 20 to 30 years. That pattern has stayed true and was last seen in an event north of Martinique in 2007.
Historical patterns indicate earthquakes at and above the magnitude of 8.0 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: https://www.ready.gov/earthquakes
This event has been reviewed by the Venezuelan Foundation for Seismological Research and is considered final.