Cleveland expert on earthquakes puts perspective on Puerto Rico’s constant quakes

Dr. David Saja studied the unique situation in Puerto Rico finds itself in because of its location.

Cleveland expert on earthquakes puts perspective on Puerto Rico’s constant quakes
Homes and buildings in the town of Guanica, Puerto Rico, sustained damage after a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck the U.S. territory on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. (Source: WAPA/CNN)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -Yet another day, and yet another round of destructive earthquakes in Puerto Rico.

Cleveland expert on earthquakes puts perspective on Puerto Rico’s constant quakes

Monday a 5.8 magnitude quake hit just off the southwest coast of the island, and that was followed-up by 6.4 early Tuesday morning.

The quakes have been hitting multiple times a day since Dec. 28th.

Puerto Rico is located on top of a fault line where multiple plates meet, and grind against each other.

Something has changed recently to makes the plates shift, which cause the shaking and rumbles.

With every shift, the North American Plate (NA) is sliding under the Caribbean Plate (CP), actually pushing the island higher in elevation.

Dr. David Saja, with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, was on the island 25 years ago to study the region and helped gives us some perspective.

Tell me about your time in Puerto Rico?

“I was part of a team from the University of Pennsylvania that went to Puerto Rico to study the lakes in the mountains that contain marine organisms. These lakes were once at ocean level but have been lifted up."

With so many quakes in such a small amount of time, should we be concerned?

“Puerto Rico has a long history of tectonic activity. Like California, Puerto Rico is on the edge of a tectonic plate of the Earth. As the plates of our dynamic earth move, they bump into each other causing earthquakes.”

What makes this region susceptible to quakes?

“The Island of Puerto Rico is actually the top of a large mountain rising up out of the ocean floor. The NA plate moving south and the Caribbean Plate moving north with Puerto Rico caught in between.”

Is there any way to see something bigger coming since the magnitudes have been getting bigger?

From historical data, most likely not. But that is the exciting part about studying the Earth. Scientist do not completely understand what is happening deep inside the earth. With every earthquake scientist learn just a little bit more. What’s next? We will just have to wait and see."

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