Quake Activity Continues

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By Steve Thomas Observer Nevis Editor
(Charlestown, Nevis) ” Scientists are continuing to record seismic activity off the east coast of Nevis. Although the natural phenomenon is not raising alarm bells, the activity is being monitored by experts. Since Nov. 1, a total of 54 “events” near the Federation have been recorded by seismologists ” scientists who study earthquakes – at University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre. In seismology terms, an “event” “means an earthquake, but obviously they weren’t felt,” Ms. Stacy Edwards, Education Officer of the UWI Seismic Research Centre, said. “It’s an earthquake swarm.” UWI Seismologist Ms. Joan Latchman explained the earthquake swarm was not unusual. “It is a natural thing that plays out,” she said. “We have earthquakes daily.” On Tuesday, Nevis experienced a quake measuring 4.5. “For St. Kitts and Nevis, it’s not unusual, but it’s not an everyday thing,” Ms. Latchman said. “Is it going to lead to something else? We”ve got to watch it to know. There’s now way to predict earthquakes.” Earlier this week, the centre released the following update: “On 2nd November at 04:05 a.m. (local time) an earthquake of magnitude, Mt, 4.5 occurred near the east coast of Nevis. The event was reported felt in Nevis. This followed an earlier felt event on 1st November at 02:14 p.m. (local time), which was of magnitude 4.3. Up to 08:00 a.m. (local time) on 3rd November, there were 42 events in the sequence, and by the 5th November, the number stood at 54. There were 10 foreshocks, which started on 1st November.” These events are tectonic and not associated with volcanic activity on St. Kitts or Nevis.” “We don’t” see anything different from what we usually see at this time,” Ms. Latchman said. The centre confirmed the shocks were the result of tectonic plate activity and were unrelated to the geothermal drilling on Nevis. On Nov. 2, Lester Blackett, director of the Nevis Disaster Management Office, discussed the activity. “Much of the world’s earthquake and volcanic activity takes place along plate boundaries. At these plate boundaries, the plates interacted with each other, others spread apart and others moved towards each other with crumpling or one dipping beneath the other,” he said.” “The Eastern Caribbean is an example of an island ARC system formed in a Convergent Plate Boundary” . . where two tectonics plates meet and the denser plate is forced beneath the lighter plate.” The movement along the plate boundaries caused the earthquakes. According to the United States Geological Survey, “A tectonic plate (also called lithospheric plate) is a massive, irregularly shaped slab of solid rock, generally composed of both continental and oceanic lithosphere. Plate size can vary greatly, from a few hundred to thousands of kilometers across; the Pacific and Antarctic Plates are among the largest. Plate thickness also varies greatly, ranging from less than 15 km for young oceanic lithosphere to about 200 km or more for ancient continental lithosphere (for example, the interior parts of North and South America).” According to the UWI Centre, here are some of the significant historical earthquakes in the Caribbean area: 1692 06 07 – Jamaica Fatalities 2,000 1787 05 02 – Puerto Rico – M 8.0 1843 02 08 – Leeward Islands – M 8.3 Fatalities 5,000 1867 11 18 – Puerto Rico Region 1907 01 14 – Kingston, Jamaica – M 6.5 Fatalities 1,000 1918 10 11 – Mona Passage – M 7.5 Fatalities 116 1946 08 04 – Samana, Dominican Republic – M 8.0 Fatalities 100 1969 12 25 – Guadeloupe, Leeward Islands – M 7.2 1974 10 08 – Leeward Islands – M 7.5 2004 11 21 – Leeward Islands – M 6.3 Fatalities 1 2004 12 14 – Cayman Islands Region – M 6.8 2006 09 10 – Gulf of Mexico – M 5.8 2007 11 29 – Martinique Region, Windward Islands – M 7.4 Fatalities 1

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