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Seismologist predicts earthquake

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Seismologist predicts earthquake

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC -The Acting Director of the Seismic Research Centre of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Dr Joan Latchman, is warning Caribbean countries to be prepared for an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 after Trinidad and Tobago was rocked by a 5.1 magnitude quake on Sunday night.
The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) said there were no reports of damage or injury from the quake that the National Earthquake Informationat the United States Geological Survey registered 5.1 and was located 15 miles north west of Port of Spain in Trinidad and 70 miles west south west of Scarborough in Tobago. It was also felt in some sections of Venezuela.
Latchman said that while the region has not had a severe earthquake for the last 100 years, she is predicting that one with a magnitude of 8.0 could hit the Caribbean any day.
“Our largest earthquake close to Trinidad occurred n 1756 which is more than 200 years ago. The largest one in the Eastern Caribbean occurred in 1843 which is more than a 100 years ago, the region is posed for a large earthquake,” she said on a radio programme here.
On January 12 this year, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 hit Haiti killing an estimated 300,000 people and leaving more than one million others homeless.
Latchman said that while the Caribbean has recorded earthquakes in the magnitude 7.1 to 7.5 range in the Eastern Caribbean “every 20 to 30 years, we have not had that one in the magnitude, eight range, that we expect every 100 years.
“So this is what we are saying and we have been saying it now for many year, that the region is posed to experience one of its great earthquakes and as a region and as a country we need to be prepared.
“We need to take it seriously …we need to take the earthquake hazard very seriously,” she said.
Latchman said that Sunday’s earthquake was part of a series of earthquakes that began in September 2006 when one of the tremors registered a magnitude of 5.8, the highest registered on land in Trinidad-since the Seismic Unit has been monitoring earthquakes.
She said on that same day in September and in the same general area, the country had 11 earthquakes and the biggest aftershock five hours later with a magnitude of 5.3. (CMC)
“The following day there were eight earthquakes located and on the third day, the number dropped to four,” Latchman said, adding that the number of earthquakes for this area fell off very rapidly to the point of having one or two a month.
 “We may still see an earthquake larger than 4.7, but if it’s an aftershock, it’s not expected to be larger than 5.8 in magnitude. This, however, does not discount the possibility that the activity that we have seen in this area is all precursory to something bigger than 5.8,” she added.