Two earthquakes greater than 5.0 have rocked the Caribbean in the last week and concerns have been growing for a major tremor in the region. On Tuesday, Feb. 18, a strong 6.5-magnitude quake occurred about 100 miles north-northeast of Bridgetown, Barbados. According to Dr. Joan Latchman, the Director of the Seismic Research Unit of the University of the West Indies, it was the strongest tremor since 1980 in the area. Three days later, on Feb. 21, a 5.1-magnitude seismic event occurred near Aruba. While both of these quakes did not cause much damage, they are a reminder that the Caribbean remains a very active seismic zone, prone to earthquakes at anytime. Earthquakes are common in the Caribbean, but most are less than 3.0 on the Richter Scale. The two recent, stronger rumbles have rekindled memories of highly destructive earthquakes over the past few hundred years. The Caribbean has a long history of destructive tremors. One of the most infamous occurred in 1692 when a 7.5-magnitude quake dismantled the city of Port Royal, Jamaica. Much of the city was submerged under water, and thousands of people lost their lives. The Caribbean Plate is sandwiched between numerous tectonic plates including the North American and South American. It is the North American that helps form the Puerto Rico Trench, with depths over 28,000 feet, north of the U.S. territory. More
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