No tsunami threat from strong earthquake near Puerto Rico

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A moderate earthquake struck near Puerto Rico moments ago, prompting officials from the National Weather Service Tsunami Warning Center to issue a bulletin. Image: USGS

According to the National Weather Service Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (NWS-PTWC) in Honolulu, Hawaii, there is no tsunami threat from a moderate earthquake that struck near Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands ( USVI) a short time ago. At 7:53 p.m. ET, a magnitude 4.0 earthquake struck about 28 miles northwest of San Antonio, Puerto Rico at a depth of 10 km.

The quake prompted an NWS-PTWC tsunami bulletin to say there was no tsunami threat at the time. “Based on all available data, there is no tsunami threat to Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands or the British Virgin Islands from this earthquake,” the NWS-PTWC said in its newsletter. They add that people may have been shaken by the earthquake.

“This will be the only statement released for this event unless additional data is received or the situation changes,” the NWS-PTWC wrote. “Information regarding any tsunami threat to US Atlantic Gulf coasts will be released by the US National Tsunami Warning Center.”

The region has been seismically active lately, with more than 55 earthquakes reported by the USGS around Puerto Rico in the past 7 days with a magnitude of 2.5 or greater. While today’s earthquake was strongest this week in Puerto Rico, a 4.3 also hit the northwest corner of Haiti earlier in the day.

The dots on this map reflect all earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater that have struck the region in the past 7 days;  the red dot reflects the epicenter of today's moderate earthquake near Puerto Rico.  Image: USGS
The dots on this map reflect all earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater that have struck the region in the past 7 days; the red dot reflects the epicenter of today’s moderate earthquake near Puerto Rico. Image: USGS

These earthquakes are not far from the epicenter of a strong earthquake that struck in January 2020. This 6.4 caused extensive damage in Puerto Rico, including widespread power outages in a large part of the island. A swarm of earthquakes started here in December 2019 and unrest has continued ever since.

These earthquakes occur near the northern edge of the Caribbean Plate, a primarily oceanic tectonic plate underlying Central America and the Caribbean Sea off the northern coast of South America. The Caribbean Plate borders the North American Plate, the South American Plate, the Nazca Plate, and the Cocos Plate. The edges of these plates harbor ongoing seismic activity, including frequent earthquakes, occasional tsunamis, and sometimes even volcanic eruptions.


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