Monday 15 July, 2019

Strongest quake within last 50 years: 5 facts about the 6.9 tremor

Tuesday’s 6.9 earthquake is said to be the largest within the last 50 years.

In 1968, a 7.0 earthquake was reported to have occurred near Trinidad, causing significant damage to neighbouring Venezuela with some damage to Port of Spain.

Then, in 1997, a massive 6.1 quake struck causing major infrastructural damage, with an estimated $25 million in damages recorded in the sister isle of Tobago.

Speaking in a live broadcast following Tuesday’s event, seismologist Dr. Loan Latchman revealed that the earthquake was the strongest on record in 50 years.

Now at 6.8, even if the magnitude goes up to be 7, it is a significant magnitude earthquake. The last one we had of this size was in 1968. But, it is still not the strongest earthquake we can have in our area. So, we could consider this as is another one of those events that keeps us aware that our region is seismically active and that the strong earthquakes can occur and will occur and we stronger than what he had this evening,” she said.

Yesterday’s quake saw damages to several buildings’, homes and vehicles.

According to officials, no injuries or fatalities were reported.

So how long was the event? And, are we under a tsunami watch?

Read ahead, as the UWI Seismic Research Centre answers these questions and more.


1) Will there be aftershocks?

 Yes, we have recorded aftershocks following the 6.9 event. Please note that aftershocks can be strong and one must stay calm and Drop, Cover and Hold on (DCH) until the shaking stops.

2) How long was the event?

Based on felt reports the shaking lasted for approximately 90 seconds.

3) Are we under a tsunami warning?

 No. A tsunami warning was sent out after the event. This warning was sent as part of the procedure that is in place for such large magnitude events. There was no threat to any of the islands or mainland Venezuela.

4) Why are there different magnitudes being reported?

Different monitoring agencies use different systems for determining magnitude. As such there are different types of reported magnitudes, with different values. This apparent discrepancy is, therefore, expected and acceptable to scientists with each agency’s value being correct in its own context.

5) Where was the earthquake felt?

It was felt as far north as Dominica, as far West as Colombia and as far south as Guyana.

The UWI Seismic Research Centre also issued the following tips as to what is the safest thing to do during an earthquake:

1) Stay calm. Do not panic. Be alert.

2) If inside stay inside, do not run out of the building as you may be injured by falling debris.

3) If inside, drop, cover and hold on until the shaking stops. Get under a sturdy desk, table or bed and hold on or stand in a strong doorway. Do not use elevators or stairs.

4) Move away from windows, mirrors, glass doors, pictures, bookcases, hanging plants and heavy objects.

5) If outside and there are no obvious signs of danger nearby, stay there.

6) If outside, stay away from glass buildings, electricity poles and bridges.

7) If in a vehicle, do not stop on or under a bridge.

8) Always look out for falling plaster, bricks, lighting fixtures and other objects.


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