Increased Level of Felt Earthquakes in Trinidad & Tobago “Normal”, Say Experts

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Wednesday November 7, 2018 – The University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Centre (SRC) today sought to assure that the recent increased level of felt earthquakes in Trinidad and Tobago is not unusual. But it urged citizens to remain on alert because a destructive tremor could happen at any time.

On August 21, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake occurred off the coast of eastern Venezuela, about 130 km west of Trinidad’s capital, Port of Spain, at a depth of 127 km. The event was widely reported as felt in the twin-island republic and neighbouring islands, with some damage in Trinidad.

Before then, during the January 26-28 period, there was a burst of more than 20 earthquakes in the Gulf of Paria, about 70 km south-west of Port of Spain, the largest was of magnitude 5.3 at a depth of 23 km.

In a statement issued today, the SRC said moderate to strong earthquakes such as these are usually associated with aftershocks, with those at shallow depth producing a higher number. Therefore, it said, the earthquakes being recorded in the Gulf of Paria in recent weeks, with some being felt, is in keeping with the pattern expected after such events.

“The other areas around Trinidad will continue to produce their normal annual magnitude output; on average, we expect just over 50 events of magnitude greater than 3.5 every year. In that context, given the two areas in the Gulf of Paria that are currently adjusting following significant magnitude earthquakes and the annual, expected events in the other, surrounding zones, the earthquake activity being seen is normal,” it said.

The SRC said the activity currently being recorded has little bearing on the larger magnitude earthquakes that can happen at any time.

“We here in Trinidad and Tobago, along with all relevant, regional agencies and communities, must continue to ensure that all necessary measures are in place to respond appropriately to any large magnitude earthquake which may potentially cause significant damage and loss of life,” it cautioned.

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