More than 180 earthquakes have rocked Puerto Rico in the last 7 days, with 13 striking in just the last 24 hours. Fortunately, while the volume of earthquakes is high, the intensity has been low; as such, there is no tsunami threat to the island, the Caribbean, or the U.S. East Coast at this time. According to USGS, most of the earthquakes struck along the southwestern portion of Puerto Rico, although earthquakes have been measured all around the island and in off-shore waters to the east, north, northeast, and southeast.
The earthquakes range in intensity, with the strongest being a 4.1 and 3.8. Four earthquakes struck with at a magnitude 3.8 rating. from a magnitude 2.5 event to a 2.9 event. The 2.9 magnitude event struck near Guanica, Puerto Rico. 48 of the 183 earthquakes were rated below 2.0, which would make those barely noticeable to people on the island.
It is likely that today’s earthquakes are aftershocks from a seismic event that unfolded in 2020. In January 2020, a 6.4 created extensive damage in Puerto Rico, including widespread power failures across much of the island. An earthquake swarm started here in December 2019 and the seismic unrest has continued since.
These earthquakes are occurring near the northern edge of the Caribbean Plate, a mostly oceanic tectonic plate underlying Central America and the Caribbean Sea off of the north coast of South America. The Caribbean Plate borders the North American Plate, the South American Plate, the Nazca Plate, and the Cocos Plate. The borders of these plates are home to ongoing seismic activity, including frequent earthquakes, occasional tsunamis, and sometimes even volcanic eruptions.