Monday 21 October 2019

Magnitude 5.2 Earthquake to the southeast of Rota Island, Northern Mariana Islands.

The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 5.2 Earthquake at a depth of 94.1 km about 27 km off the southeast coast of the Rota Island, a US possession in the Northern Mariana Islands, slightly after 10.40 pm local time (slightly after 12.40 pm GMT) on Saturday 19 October 2019. There are no reports of any casualties this event, though it was felt across the Northern Marianas Islands and Guam.

The approximate location of the 19 September 2019 Rota Island Earthquake. USGS.

The volcanic Mariana Islands are located on the eastern margin of the Philippine Plate, close to its margin with the Pacific Plate. The Pacific Plate is being subducted beneath the Philippine Plate along the Mariana Trench. This is not a smooth process, an the plates constantly stick together then break apart again as the pressure builds up, resulting in Earthquakes.
 Simplified diagram of the subduction of the Pacific Plate beneath the Philippine plate, and how this fuels the volcanoes of the Mariana Islands. NOAA Ocean Explorer.
Witness accounts of quakes can help geologists to understand these events and the rock structures that cause them. If you felt this quake (or if you were in the area but did not, which is also useful information) you can report it to the USGS here.
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