Three moderate earthquakes rocked the northern Mid Atlantic Ridge in the central Atlantic Ocean early this morning. The first was a 5.0 magnitude earthquake followed by a 4.8 5 minutes later. The last, a 4.7, struck 35 minutes later. They all had a depth of about 6.2 miles. Due to their intensity, there is no threat of tsunami anywhere in the Atlantic basin including the U.S. East Coast due to these earthquakes at this time.
The central Mid Atlantic Ridge separates the South American Plate from the African Plate. In this part of the world, the two plates are moving apart, triggering earthquakes as they split above the ridge.
These plates are based on the scientific theory of Plate Tectonics, which describes the large-scale motion of plates making up the Earth’s lithosphere. Scientists believe tectonic processes began on Earth between 3.3 and 3.5 billion years, building upon the concept of continental drift, a scientific concept developed in the early part of the 20th century. Continental drift is the gradual movement of the continents across the Earth’s surface through geological times.
Tsunamis are giant waves caused by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions under the sea. Out in the depths of the ocean, tsunami waves do not dramatically increase in height. But as the waves travel inland, they build up to higher and higher heights as the depth of the ocean decreases. According to the National Ocean Service, the speed of tsunami waves depends on ocean depth rather than the distance from the source of the wave. Tsunami waves may travel as fast as jet planes over deep waters, only slowing down when reaching shallow waters. While tsunamis are often referred to as tidal waves, this name is discouraged by oceanographers because tides have little to do with these giant waves.
These earthquakes are in addition to an active period in the United States this Memorial Day holiday weekend. Through Sunday night, more than 130 earthquakes rocked the Continental United States. Overnight, a strong 6.1 earthquake rocked south central Alaska. And seismic activity continues on Hawaii’s Big Island due to volcanic unrest there.