Top Caribbean seismologist Dr Joan Latchman has warned Barbadians that the time had come to “stop thinking that they are immune to earthquakes”.
Dr Latchman, who is based at the University of the West Indies St Augustine Campus in Trinidad, sounded the warning after her unit recorded multiple earthquakes off the northeast of Bridgetown yesterday.
“We should recognize that systems in the Eastern Caribbean can be quiet for several decades before manifesting their potential for activity. So we are seeing that that area has that potential,” she told Barbados TODAY.
Five earthquakes, most of them of 4.0 magnitude at a maximum distance of 159 kilometres, occurred within an 18-hour period.
Dr Latchman explained that the increase in activity was caused by aftershocks of the 6.6 earthquake that rattled the island and other parts of the Caribbean in July.
“We have been having a series of aftershocks which are consistent with an earthquake of this size having occurred and aftershocks of varying magnitudes would occur associated with such an event, and we have been seeing this,” she said.
The seismologist explained that the area was experiencing an “aftershock sequence” where “bursts of activity” are recorded as was felt yesterday.
“ . . . some of these more significant aftershocks that we have not yet seen that are greater than magnitude five will occur and sometimes you do get these little bursts before such events occur, or sometimes you just get the bursts without the more significant events. So that is the current status . . . that is how systems behave when they have released a significant magnitude earthquake. So it is not a matter of being worried. It is a matter of being prepared, understanding how the system works and being prepared,” she advised. (FW)