Earthquakes and Cuba
Another earthquake hit near Corralillo, Cuba over the weekend
Author: Roland Steadham, Meteorologist, firstname.lastname@example.org
Published On: Mar 10 2014 07:28:25 PM EDT
Over the weekend, another earthquake hit near Corralillo, Cuba,
approximately 110 miles east of Havana.
This was the fourth earthquake since a magnitude 5.0 impacted the same
area in January. The recent tremor was a magnitude 4.7, not exactly a
major quake but enough to stir the curiosity.
The truth is that Cuba is a seismically active area with a history of
major earthquakes, some in excess of 7.0. However, most of Cuba’s quakes
are expected to occur along the southeastern coast.
In 1766, a major quake with a magnitude of 7.6 rocked the area near
Santiago de Cuba. The recent quakes east of Havana are rare and have
been felt all the way up into the Keys and parts of Broward County.
To understand why this is happening, we have to zoom out and focus on
the big picture. Hundreds of millions of years ago, the world’s
continents were one giant landmass known as Pangaea.
Over time, a giant rift occurred tearing these continents apart. Have
you ever noticed how the coastlines of the America’s line up with the
coastlines of Europe and Africa? This separation of landmasses continues
today through the process of plate tectonics.
Our continents are sitting on plates that are constantly shifting and
moving. For example, there is the North American plate, the African
plate and so on. The most recent quakes in Cuba have occurred in a place
where the North American plate borders the Caribbean plate. These two
plates have been pressing against each other, creating the Cuban Fold
and Thrust Belt. This type of fault is very rare but obviously capable
of releasing energy.
The Caribbean is a hotbed for seismic activity. In 2010, the
catastrophic magnitude 7.0 quake that slammed Haiti killed more than
160,000 people. In 1995, the volcano on the island of Montserrat forced
the permanent exodus from the capital, Plymouth.
While northern Cuba is on the extreme northern fringe of the Caribbean
seismic map, it serves as a reminder that this old planet of ours is
constantly moving and changing. You and I are just going along for the ride.
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