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Earthquakes in the Caribbean

01/20/10

Permalink 05:25:50 pm, by Melba
Categories: Weather, Commentary

Earthquakes in the Caribbean

Normally, we don’t think about natural disasters until they actually happen. For us in the Caribbean hurricanes are our worst nightmares. Tornadoes, tsunamis, volcanoes, snowstorms and such natural disasters we only hear about. Earthquakes are a little closer to home but still not a priority. Yes, we have suffered at the hands of earthquakes in the past; on June 07, 1692 a massive one sank two-thirds of Port Royal; however that was so long ago that for most of us it’s just history.

Despite the nonchalant attitude of most people towards the possibilities of a major earthquake here in Jamaica the authorities do their best to keep us aware. January 09 - 15, 2010 was Earthquake Awareness Week in Jamaica. This is an annual event staged by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM). The theme for this year was ‘Learn, Plan, Prepare…the next big quake could be near!’ (yu think dem did get a tip). The aim was to increase the general awareness of the Jamaican public to the importance of preparing for an earthquake.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF AN EARTHQUAKE? ARE YOU PREPARED? Seriously I’m clueless. The only thing I can think of is get away from any buildings, if you can. Then what?

 

As you all know, on January 12, 2010, Haiti was struck by a major, major 7.0 quake. The devastation was unbelievable. The daily horror stories coming out of Haiti are heart breaking. But what is also very scary is the fact that to date, January 20, 2010 we continue to have daily earthquakes within the region. For more information you can visit http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Quakes/quakes_all.php.

 

From what I understand an earthquake is caused when there is an abrupt shift of rocks along a fracture in the Earth called a fault. The earth is divided into three main layers - a hard outer crust, a soft middle layer and a center core. The outer crust is broken into massive, irregular pieces called "plates." Earthquakes occur when the earth shakes due to the movements of plates below the earth’s crust. The strength or magnitude of an earthquake is determined by the amount of ground shaking at a particular site as well as from reports of human reaction to shaking, damage done to structures, and other effects. Two main scales exist for defining the strength, the Mercalli Scale and the Richter Scale.

 

Looking at the latest earthquakes in the region over the past 8 days, the picture emerging is very discomforting. I am no scientist but as we say in Jamaica ‘it no look good’. On the map below (taken from the site listed above) Bold red lines are plate boundaries. The blue squares are earthquakes that occurred today and the yellow squares occurred this week. The earthquakes actually form a pattern around the Caribbean plate. I have listed the earthquakes recorded over the last 3 days. Jamaica’s location along the northern margin of the Caribbean Plate and the presence of very active faults, I believe, makes us very vulnerable to an earthquake at this time.

 

   

MAG

UTC DATE-TIME
y/m/d h:m:s

LAT
deg

LON
deg

DEPTH
km

 Region

 4.5  

2010/01/20 14:42:47 

  12.438 

  -88.171 

59.7 

 OFFSHORE EL SALVADOR

 5.9  

2010/01/20 11:03:44 

  18.385 

  -72.870 

10.0 

 HAITI REGION

 4.9  

2010/01/20 09:32:30 

  17.027 

  -94.361 

116.1 

 OAXACA, MEXICO

 4.4  

2010/01/20 09:03:45 

 -23.180 

  -66.600 

193.3 

 JUJUY, ARGENTINA

 5.2  

2010/01/20 06:05:46 

 -26.745 

  -63.321 

554.9 

 SANTIAGO DEL ESTERO, ARGENTINA

 2.9  

2010/01/20 04:10:23 

  18.556 

  -65.664 

78.1 

 PUERTO RICO REGION

 2.8  

2010/01/20 03:28:34 

  18.651 

  -66.948 

76.5 

 PUERTO RICO REGION

MAG

UTC DATE-TIME
y/m/d h:m:s

LAT
deg

LON
deg

DEPTH
km

 Region

 3.3  

2010/01/19 23:58:39 

  17.843 

  -65.716 

19.4 

 PUERTO RICO REGION

 5.2  

2010/01/19 17:28:15 

 -27.566 

  -65.782 

26.8 

 TUCUMAN, ARGENTINA

 5.9  

2010/01/19 14:23:39 

  19.020 

  -80.779 

10.0 

 CAYMAN ISLANDS REGION

 2.6  

2010/01/19 08:47:11 

  18.213 

  -66.519 

91.6 

 PUERTO RICO

 4.7  

2010/01/19 07:06:37 

  8.571 

  -82.652 

57.8 

 PANAMA-COSTA RICA BORDER REGION

 4.6  

2010/01/19 05:36:54 

 -32.381 

  -69.948 

96.0 

 MENDOZA, ARGENTINA

 2.8  

2010/01/19 05:00:30 

  18.149 

  -64.928 

10.2 

 VIRGIN ISLANDS REGION

 2.8  

2010/01/19 03:04:26 

  18.815 

  -67.341 

10.8 

 PUERTO RICO REGION

 3.0  

2010/01/19 00:10:28 

  18.602 

  -66.863 

87.5 

 PUERTO RICO REGION

MAG

UTC DATE-TIME
y/m/d h:m:s

LAT
deg

LON
deg

DEPTH
km

 Region

 3.0  

2010/01/18 20:02:46 

  18.663 

  -67.356 

81.6 

 PUERTO RICO REGION

 2.8  

2010/01/18 17:49:21 

  31.752 

 -116.015 

0.9 

 BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO

 3.7  

2010/01/18 17:22:41 

  19.326 

  -68.694 

68.9 

 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC REGION

 5.7  

2010/01/18 16:09:15 

 -12.421 

  166.169 

10.0 

 SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS

 5.8  

2010/01/18 15:40:27 

  13.696 

  -90.333 

54.8 

 OFFSHORE GUATEMALA

 5.4  

2010/01/18 12:28:35 

 -31.333 

  -68.577 

91.4 

 SAN JUAN, ARGENTINA

 3.8  

2010/01/18 08:41:07 

  36.842 

 -104.802 

5.0 

 NEW MEXICO

 5.2  

2010/01/18 06:00:29 

 -11.544 

  166.287 

35.0 

 SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS

 2.9  

2010/01/18 02:50:39 

  18.984 

  -68.274 

59.5 

 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC REGION

 2.8  

2010/01/18 02:30:19 

  32.187 

 -115.379 

6.0 

 BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO

 

So again I ask, do you known what to do in the event of an earthquake? If not I think it is prudent for us all to get informed and prepare as best we can. I think the people at ODPEM got it right; we need to, ‘Learn, Plan, Prepare…the next big quake could be near!’

Nuff Love

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Sister Mary Margaret

SISTER MARGARET MARY, WHO WORKS FOR A LOCAL HOME HEALTH AGENCY WAS OUT MAKING HER ROUNDS WHEN SHE RAN OUT OF GAS.

AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT A GAS STATION WAS JUST A BLOCK AWAY.

SHE WALKED TO THE STATION TO BORROW A CAN OF GAS TO START & THEN DRIVE TO THE STATION FOR A FILL UP.

THE ATTENDANT REGRETFULLY TOLD HER THE ONLY GAS CAN HE OWNED HAD BEEN LOANED OUT BUT IF SHE WOULD WAIT, IT WAS SURE TO BE BACK SHORTLY.

SINCE THE NUN ! WAS ON THE WAY TO SEE A PATIENT SHE DECIDED NOT TO WAIT & SHE WALKED BACK TO THE CAR. AFTER LOOKING FOR SOMETHING TO FILL WITH GAS, SHE SPOTTED A BEDPAN SHE WAS TAKING TO THE PATIENT.

ALWAYS RESOURCEFUL, SHE CARRIED IT TO THE STATION & FILLED IT WITH GASOLINE, & CARRIED IT TO HER CAR.

AS SHE WAS POURING THE GAS INTO THE TANK, TWO MEN WERE WATCHING FROM ACROSS THE STREET. ONE OF THEM TURNED TO THE OTHER & SAID, "IF IT STARTS, I'M TURNING CATHOLIC".

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