The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 4.7 Earthquake ata depth of 10.0 km, about 10 km off the south coast of the Azuero Peninsula on the Pacific Coast of Panama, at about 1.35 am local time (about 6.35 am GMT) on Sunday 17 December 20174. There are no reports of any damage or casualties associated with this event, though it was felt across much of central Panama.
The approximate location of the 17 December 2017 Pananma Earthquake. Google Maps.
Panama lies on a tectonic microplate known as the Panama Plate or Panama Block, which has broken away from the North American Plate within the last 20 million years, and is now caught between the Caribbean, Cocos, Nazca and South American Plates. The southern margin of this is both a convergent and a transform margin, as the Nazca Plate moves past the Panama plate in a westerly direction, but is also being partially subducted beneath Panama. This is not a smooth process; the two plates continually stick together, then break apart once the pressure builds up sufficiently, causing Earthquakes in the process.
The tectonic plates underlying Central America and the surrounding areas. Wikimedia Commons.
Witness accounts of Earthquakes can help geologists to understand these events, and the structures that cause them. The international non-profit organisation Earthquake Report is interested in hearing from people who may have felt this event; if you felt this quake then you can report it to Earthquake Report here.
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