EARTHQUAKE

Aftershock from January earthquake rattles parts of Cuba, Florida Keys Sunday

 

cteproff@MiamiHerald.com

An earthquake felt Sunday morning in Cuba and parts of the Florida Keys was actually an aftershock from a 5.0-magnitude earthquake that rattled the region two months ago, according to the National Earthquake Information Center.

The 4.7-magnitude earthquake that struck about 17 miles north of Corralillo, Cuba at 7:26 a.m. Sunday, was the fourth aftershock from the Jan. 9 event.

“It is not unusual to have aftershocks,” said Jana Pursley, a geophysicist with National Earthquake Information Center. “When they are this closely located and appear to be at the same depth they are considered aftershocks.”

The other three aftershocks were not as strong on the Richter scale and only one on Feb. 4 produced reports in Cuba of light shaking, Pursley said.

Sunday morning’s aftershock, which was not strong enough to cause damage, was felt in Corralillo, Cuba and the lower to middle Keys.

“There was a handful of phone calls,” said Monroe County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Becky Herrin. “It was a really small earthquake.”

Judith McCabe-Arthur of Summerland Key said her home shook for seven to 10 seconds when Sunday's quake hit.

The Jan. 9 earthquake – centered about 112 miles east of Havana in coastal waters – stumped seasoned scientists because of its location in the northern coast of Cuba. The epicenter was about 300 miles from a major fault line between southern Cuba and Hispaniola.

“There is no question that it is unusual where it hit,” said Timothy Dixon, a University of South Florida geophysics professor and earthquake expert at the time. “I have no clue why this earthquake happened.”

Before the Jan. 9 earthquake, Cuba last experienced an earthquake in 2010, when a 5.6-magnitude earthquake hit in the waters off Oriente Province, according to the United States Geological Survey. It became only the sixth known earthquake between 3.0 and 5.6 magnitude recorded within 125 miles of the area in the past 75 years.

KeysInfoNet contributed to this report.

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