Sunday, 28 May 2023

Magnitude 6.5 Earthquake off the northern coast of Panama and Colombia.

The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 6.5 Earthquake at a depth of 13.0 km, off the Caribbean coasts of Panama and Colombia, about 50 km to the northeast of the border between the two countries, slightly after 10.05 pm local time on Wednesday 24 May 2023 (slightly after 3.05 am on Thursday 25 May, GMT). There are no reports of any damage or casualties associated with this event, though it was felt across much of northern Colombia, Panama and parts of Costa Rica.

The approximate location of the 24 May 2023 Pananma/Colombia Earthquake. USGS.

The event happened close to the triple junction between the Panama, Caribbean, and South American plates. All three plates are drifting to the northwest, being pushed by the expansion of the Atlantic Ocean, and to a lesser extent the eastward movement of the Nazca Plate, which is being subducted beneath the South American Plate along the west coast of South America. However, the South American Plate is moving somewhat faster than the other two plates, causing the Panama Plate to be pushed to the west, creating a transform plate margin, as the Panama Plate moves west relative to the Caribbean Plate, along the northern coast of Panama, and a subductive plate margin, as the Caribbean Plate is forced under the advancing South American Plate, along the northern coast of Colombia. 

The tectonic plates underlying Central America and the surrounding areas. Wikimedia Commons.

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