Two Quakes Shake Caribbean Basin, but Neither Prompts Tsunami Warning

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Two strong earthquakes rattled the Caribbean Tuesday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, but neither they nor clusters of smaller quakes near the Cayman Islands and Puerto Rico prompted tsunami warnings for the U.S. Virgin Islands or other islands in the region.

At 3:10 p.m. Tuesday (Atlantic Standard Time) a quake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale hit about 77 miles north northwest of Jamaica. That earthquake was felt as far away as the Florida Panhandle, according to the USGS.

At 5:55 p.m. Tuesday a 6.1 temblor struck 35 miles east of the Cayman Islands.

The Cayman Islands quake was one of a cluster of smaller earthquakes ranging from 4.4. to 4.9 on the Richter scale that struck Tuesday. And Puerto Rico continued to feel the ground move Tuesday from a cluster of smaller seismic events ranging from the 2.7 to 3.7.

But though, as old-time rocker Jerry Lee Lewis sang, there was a whole lot of shaking going on, NOAA’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue any warnings for the region.

The recent spate of activity is not unusual. The Caribbean basin is where the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates grind against each other. The point where the two plates meet, called the “Oriente Fault,” runs south of Cuba, scene of the most recent activity.

The recent earthquakes have been big enough to catch the attention of island residents, but the region sees smaller activity, earthquakes in the 2.0 to 3.0 range, almost daily.

V.I. residents can be warned of dangerous conditions, including tsunamis, by signing up for Alert V.I. at the VITEMA website. Alert V.I. sends alert messages to subscribers cell phones or email.

Those who want to track seismic activity in the Caribbean or around the world can do so at the U.S. Geological Survey’s website.

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