BVI News

‘Earthquake swarm’ leaves researchers puzzled and DDM on ‘high alert’

By Kamal Haynes, BVI News Staff

The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) is now on high alert, following the recent increase in earthquakes in the region.

This was revealed by the DDM’s Information & Education Manager Chrystall Kanyuck-Abel who told BVI News that her organisation is keeping a close eye on all earthquake-related activity.

“We are definitely on high alert right now; basically meaning we are monitoring the situation in Puerto Rico very closely, and our staff here is in daily contact with the staff at the Puerto Rico Seismic Network,” Kanyuck-Abel said.

“They are the ones that you would see put out the tsunami warnings, they’re the ones that have the sophisticated instrumentation to measure the magnitude of an earthquake,” she added.

Researchers puzzled, coins new seismic term

Kanyuck-Abel further said that the frequency of tremors within the last month has left seismic authorities baffled.

She said the tremors have even resulted in the creation of new terminologies to describe the recent chain of events.

“I won’t say that we are alarmed but we are tracking to the researchers and they are very puzzled about it as well. You may have seen in some of the information that went out, the word ‘swarming’ being used and that is a relatively new term that hasn’t been used to refer to seismic activity in previous years,” she explained.

“Now that’s definitely what we are experiencing. We are experiencing a seismic swarm, which has been a series (of earthquakes) which began in late December (2019),” Kanyuck-Abel further explained.

As recent as Wednesday, January 15, the DDM reported an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.2 which was felt in the Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands region.


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  1. Be vigilante says:

    We live in a seismic active zone we have be very mindful of this and sleep with one eye open and one eye closed

  2. No nonsense says:

    And we will get the tsunami warning 20minutes later and might not even hear the alarm due to its position!! Poor we!

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  3. Viral Video says:

    So if researchers are saying that it may very be that the viral video of the PR man saying that the earthquakes were not natural but man-made caused by drilling for oil off of PR has some truth in it. Let’s hope they don’t try to silence the man and influence the researchers in their findings

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  4. Island General Engineer(IGE) says:

    The VI is located at the convergence of the Northern American and Caribbean Plates, lying on an active fault line. The fault line poses a risk to people, facilities and infrastructure. The DDM is on high alert monitoring the earthquake activity. However, at this juncture, the VI can only monitor the earthquake activity and urge residents to adhere to the guidelines provided by DDM. Residents should take the DDM guidelines seriously.

    However, looking forward, the Building Code must be strengthened and deepened to include at least basic earthquake design criteria. Specifically, building/facilities must be tied into a box that include the roof, walls, floors and foundation. Brick and unreinforced concrete masonry units (blocks) and unreinforced concrete have poor ductility; they concentrate rather than disburse seismic energy, resulting in more severe, higher and costly damages.

    On the other hand, wood, steel and reinforced concrete are more ductile and disburse rather than concentrate seismic energy, resulting in less damages. Protection against reduced earthquake damages are improving, ie, installing isolators…..etc but the design is complex and costly. This is just an opinion, not engineering advice. Residents should consult a registered engineer for advice.

    Like 12
    • Thank you says:

      Your comment is appreciated.

    • IGE says:

      Correction: distribute, not disburse.

    • Road Engineer says:

      “Specifically, building/facilities must be tied into a box that include the roof, walls, floors and foundation.” This is important. Many buildings in the BVI are constructed with blocks(technically concrete masonry unit) and tied together by mortar. Blocks and unreinforced concrete don’t distribute seismic energy effectively. An earthquake causes the earth surface to shake and vibrate, causing buildings to move up and down and back and forth and can result in serious distress to buildings and people.

      When a seismic shock hits a building, the lower part(base) moves while the top part resist motion(stationary), causing distortion. And as the upper part finally moves, the base reverses direction. The movement of the upper part of building create a force (momentum) that can cause sliding, toppling or total collapse buildings.

      Repeated vibration and shaking can be catastrophic. Now, with increasing seismic activity in the region, VI residents have to plan for and worry about earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis, along with hurricanes. Designing for basic earthquake activity will add to the construction cost of buildings. Additionally, property insurance cost will increase. What is a property owner to do? Assume the risks or incur the additional cost? Tough decision(s) for property owners.

      • @Road Engineer says:

        @Road Engineer, the earthquake info is too technical and complex. Bring it down a notch or two. People just need to know how, if any way, to protect life and property. The complex explanation is probably scaring people. Comment is not a criticism but just keeping it real real.

  5. Oil says:

    Wake up people. It’s oil drilling, fracking!!!!!!
    Orange peel man doesn’t care.

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  6. Fracking says:

    Fracking is going on in Puerto Rico at the moment… Do some Research.

    Like 1
    Dislike 1

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