Powerful earthquakes continue to rock the Caribbean after a 7.2 earthquake struck near Petit Trou de Nippes, Haiti earlier today; while the death toll continues to grow, there appears to be no threat of tsunami to the Caribbean nor the U.S. East Coast at this time.
According to USGS, today’s earthquake occurred as the result of oblique reverse motion along the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone which is roughly 75 miles west of the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. “The earthquake occurred at shallow depths on either a reverse fault striking west and dipping to the north with a component of left-lateral slip, or a fault striking southeast and dipping to the southwest with a component of right-lateral slip,” the USGS said in a report. “At the location of the earthquake, the local plate boundary is dominated by left-lateral strike slip motion and compression. The plate boundary in this location accommodates eastward, left-lateral motion of the Caribbean plate relative to the North America plate. Within this context, the earthquake likely occurred on the east-west striking, north dipping fault plane with a component of left-lateral slip.”
L’hôpital général aux Cayes est débordé. Beaucoup de blessés. Beaucoup de maisons se sont effondrées aux Cayes. Dont un hôtel.
📷 Jose Flécher
Bilan partiel #Haiti #earthquake 14-08-21 pic.twitter.com/pze11oojI8
— Frantz Duval (@Frantzduval) August 14, 2021
The location of today’s powerful 7.2 earthquake is on the same peninsula of Haiti where a 7.0 earthquake struck in 2010. That earthquake brought significant destruction to Haiti, including to Port-au-Prince, and ultimately claimed more than 200,000 lives.
The area isn’t a stranger to powerful earthquakes and large tsunami either. On October 18, 1751, a major earthquake occured in this region and generated a tsunami. A major earthquake just over a month later destroyed Port-au-Prince in 1751 too. Port-au-Prince was rebuilt but destroyed again in June 1770. Based on those disasters, officials at the time required that buildings be constructed of more pliable wood rather than with masonry which is more susceptible to earthquake damage and collapse.
In April of 1860, another major earthquake occured in this area and generated another tsunami in the Caribbean.
A strong 6.9 earthquake struck today in Alaska only 30 minutes prior to today’s Haiti earthquake. However, USGS says, “Despite the timing coincidence between these two earthquakes, the large distance between these two events makes a casual relationship unlikely.” Today’s 6.9 earthquake in Alaska was likely an aftershock to the extremely strong 8.2 magnitude earthquake that struck on July 29 of this year.
Earthquakes also continue to rock Puerto Rico’s south coast today, with 11 earthquakes over a magnitude 2.5 recorded in the last 24 hours there. The strongest earthquakes were 3.2, of which there were 3 outside of Jauca, Las Ochenta, and Maria Antonia. There are no reports of any damage or injuries in Puerto Rico.
An earthquake of magnitude 7.2 on the Richter scale just shook Haiti this Saturday, August 14, 2021 around 8:30 am according to the American Center for Seismology. Damage was immediately recorded in the towns of Jérémie and Les Cayes. pic.twitter.com/7o0XlnApD4
— Melgui (@Ich18150749) August 14, 2021
Unfortunately in Haiti, the death toll continues to grow as more earthquakes rock the region. Haiti’s civil protection service reports that at least 29 people were killed by the earthquake and that number is expected to grow as first responders sift through collapsed buildings. “High causalities are probable and the disaster is likely widespread, ” reported the USGS. American Red Cross spokeswoman Katie Wilkes told reporters, “There are reports of significant damage to homes, roads, and infrastructure.”