Tuesday 7 April 2020

Magnitude 5.2 Earthquake between Tobago and Grenada.

The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 5.2 Earthquake at a depth of 31.0 km roughly half way between the islands of Tobago and Grenada,  slightly after 11.25 pm local time on Monday 6 April 2020 (slightly after 3.25 am on Tuesday 7 April GMT). There are no reports of any casualties or damage associated with this event, though the quake was felt over a large area, with people reporting feeling it across Tobago, Grenada, Trinidad, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The approximate location of the 6 April 2020 Tobago and Grenada Earthquake. USGS.

The Lesser Antilles Islands, including Grenada and Tobago are located at the eastern fringe of the Caribbean Tectonic Plate. The Atlantic Plate (strictly speaking, an extension of the South American Plate which runs to the northeast of the Caribbean) is being subducted beneath this, and as it sinks into the Earth, is melted by the heat of the planets interior. Some of the melted material then rises up through the overlying Caribbean Plate as magma, fuelling the volcanoes of the Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc. The subduction of the Atlantic Plate beneath the Caribbean Plate is not a smooth process, with the two plates constantly sticking together then breaking apart as the tectonic pressure builds up, causing Earthquakes in the process, though since the boundary between the two plates is some way to the east of the islands, Earthquakes in the Lesser Antilles tend to be both deep and offshore, which lessens their destructive potential.

 The subduction of the Atlantic Plate beneath the Caribbean Plate fuels the volcanoes of the Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc. George Pararas-Carayannis.

Witness accounts of Earthquakes can help geologists to understand these events, and the structures that cause them. The University of the West Indies is interested in hearing from people who have felt Earthquake events in the region; if you felt such a quake then you can report it here. 

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