The United States Geological Survey Recorded a Magnitude 5.9 Earthquake at a depth of 31.2 km about 23 km to the southwest of the town of La Gomera, on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala, at about 6.35 am local time (about 12.35 pm GMT) on Thursday 19 December 2019. There are no reports of any damage or casualties associated with this event, but it was felt across much of southern Guatemala.
The approximate location of the 19 December 2019 Guatemalan Earthquake. USGS.
Guatemala is located on the southern part of the boundary between the North American and Caribbean Plates, close to their boundary with the Cocos Plate, which underlies part of the east Pacific. The Cocos Plate is being pushed northwards by expansion of the crust along the East Pacific Rise, and is subducted beneath the North American and Caribbean Plates along the Middle American Trench, which runs parallel to the south coast of Guatemala and neighbouring countries, passing under Central America as it sinks into the Earth's interior. This is not a smooth process, the plates tend to stick together, breaking apart again once the pressure from the northward movement of the Cocos Plate builds up to much, triggering Earthquakes.
Diagrammatic representation of the subduction of the Cocos Plate beneath the Caribbean Plate along the Middle American Trench. VCS Mining.
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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