UPDATE: Minor Earthquake Struck On-Land South Trinidad

10:00 AM Monday 3rd February 2020 Update

UWI SRC Reviewed Solution for the earthquake felt across Southern Trinidad at 10:52 PM 2nd February 2020
UWI SRC Reviewed Solution for the earthquake felt across Southern Trinidad at 10:52 PM 2nd February 2020

The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWI SRC), the authority for seismic and volcanological information in the Eastern Caribbean, published their update on last night’s quake, felt across Southern and Western areas of Trinidad.

According to UWI SRC, this earthquake registered at a Magnitude 3.8 (Md or Mt), at a relatively shallow depth of 21 kilometers. It was located approximately:

  • 4.89 KM SSW of Siparia, Trinidad and Tobago
  • 10.69 KM SW of Penal, Trinidad and Tobago
  • 13.46 KM ENE of Los Iros, Trinidad and Tobago

Based on felt reports posted on social media, a brief jolt was reported felt in the following areas.

South Trinidad: Ghandi Village, Avocat, Penal, Fyzabad, South Oropouche, Cap De Ville, parts of San Fernando, Santa Flora, Siparia

Central Trinidad: Balmain (Couva)

Northern Trinidad: Diego Martin.

Based on the location and depth of the reviewed solution of this earthquake, it likely occurred within seismic zone 6, on-land Trinidad.

This quake occurred along directly along the Los Bajos Fault, which runs across southwestern Trinidad.

UWI SRC Reviewed Solution for the earthquake felt across Southern Trinidad at 10:52 PM 2nd February 2020
UWI SRC Reviewed Solution for the earthquake felt across Southern Trinidad at 10:52 PM 2nd February 2020

Earthquakes in this area aren’t uncommon, with a number of minor (magnitude 3.0-3.9) quakes occurring in the area since 1960.

You can submit felt reports to the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre.

There is no tsunami threat.

There are four conditions necessary for an earthquake to cause a tsunami:

  1. The earthquake must occur beneath the ocean or cause material to slide in the ocean.
  2. The earthquake must be strong, at least magnitude 6.5.
  3. The earthquake must rupture the Earth’s surface and it must occur at shallow depth – less than 70 KM below the surface of the Earth.
  4. The earthquake must cause vertical movement of the seafloor (up to several meters).

None of these conditions occurred.

Original Post

FUNVISIS Preliminary Solution for the earthquake felt across Southern Trinidad at 10:52 PM 2nd February 2020
FUNVISIS Preliminary Solution for the earthquake felt across Southern Trinidad at 10:52 PM 2nd February 2020

At 10:52 PM Sunday 2nd February 2020, a small, minor earthquake struck in the Gulf of Paria 15.08 kilometers east-northeast of Macuro, Venezuela, 32.57 kilometers west-northwest of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago and 59.78 kilometers northwest of San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago.

Based on preliminary data from the Venezuela Foundation for Seismological Research (FUNVISIS), this quake occurred at an unusually shallow depth of 1.6 kilometers.

Based on the preliminary parameters from FUNVISIS, this quake could have occurred along the El Pilar Fault. This will be updated as more information comes to hand.

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.

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.

https://ttweathercenter.com/eq-faq/earthquake-magnitude-intensity

Earthquakes *cannot* be predicted – meaning the precise time, date, magnitude, depth, etc. cannot be known ahead of time based on current research and technology.

https://ttweathercenter.com/eq-faq/earthquake-prediction-forecasting

Generally, across the Eastern Caribbean, a seismically active area, earthquakes of this magnitude, up to M8.0 and greater, are possible 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 quakes (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 an earthquake. See here for more details.

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