TRINIDAD - Seismologist Dr. Joan Latchman of the The Seismic Research Centre, at the University of The West Indies, St. Augustine is again warning regional governments to be prepared for a major earthquake, which could range around magnitude 8.0.
"Our largest earthquake close to Trinidad occurred in 1756 which is more than 200 years ago. The largest one in the Eastern Caribbean occurred in 1843 which is more than a 100 years ago, the region is posed for a large earthquake," Dr. Latchman said.
Latchman said that while the Caribbean has recorded earthquakes in the magnitude 7.1 to 7.5 range in the Eastern Caribbean "every 20 to 30 years, we have not had that one in the magnitude, eight range, that we expect every 100 years.
The moment magnitude of an earthquake is reported as magnitude 3 or lower, these are earthquakes which are mostly imperceptible, and magnitude 7, which can cause serious damage over large areas.
An earthquake measuring 4.7 shook Trinidad and Tobago on 26th December, but there were no reports of damage or injury.
In January, Dr. Latchman has been consistent in her warnings of a major earthquake evident to occur, following the devastating 7.0 quake in Haiti, earlier this year.
In July, 2010, according to the website agentandbroker.com, a leading reinsurance group, Aon Benfield, has identified a list of 5 vulnerable hotspots around the world it believes will soon suffer major losses from major earthquakes, the Caribbean region tops the list.
Other areas making the hotspots list include Chile, Indonesia, Japan, and North America.
In the past 500 years, a dozen major earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater have occurred in the Caribbean. The last two major earthquake occurred near Hispaniola, a magnitude 8.0 in 1946, caused a tsunami and left 20,000 people homeless. On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti and devastated the capital city, Port-au-Prince.
The website go-jamaica.com has list a number of major earthquakes in the Caribbean since 1692 which have caused more than 5,000 fatalities over the years, and can be viewed here.