Magnitude 6.4 Earthquake in North Atlantic Ocean : Assessing Damage and Extending Aid

Xavier Roger
Image Credit - Shutterstock
Image Credit - Shutterstock
Image Credit – Shutterstock


In a recent seismic event, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported a significant earthquake measuring magnitude 6.4 that struck the North Atlantic Ocean. The quake, which occurred at a depth of 10 kilometres (6.21 miles), has caused considerable impact and prompted immediate response.

While the U.S. tsunami warning system did not issue any tsunami warnings following the magnitude 6.4 earthquake in the North Atlantic Ocean, it is important to assess the present conditions and the aid and help being granted to affected areas. Another earthquake with a magnitude of 6.6 occurred in the same region, north of the Lesser Antilles, at approximately 16:28 on July 10. The epicentre was located approximately 277 km (172 miles) north-northeast of Codrington, Antigua and Barbuda. This tremor was also recorded at a depth of about 10 km (6 miles), resulting in light shaking across parts of the Lesser Antilles. Fortunately, there have been no immediate reports of significant damage or casualties,

suggesting that lives lost or injured are minimal at this stage. However, it may take several hours for authorities to conduct comprehensive damage assessments, particularly in remote areas. Furthermore, aftershocks are expected to occur in the coming days.

Although no immediate tsunami warnings, advisories, watches, or threats were issued by the US Tsunami Warning System, caution is still advised. There is a slight possibility of tsunami waves along the coasts closest to the epicentre. As officials continue to monitor and reassess the situation, transportation infrastructure within the tremor zone may be temporarily shut down to assess potential damage. Minor disruptions could occur during these shutdowns, but service is expected to resume quickly if no damage is found. Additionally, utility outages are possible in areas affected by the shaking.

To ensure safety during this aftershock period, it is crucial to plan accordingly and be prepared. If operating in the affected areas, consider vacating multistorey buildings until authorities confirm their structural integrity. Allow extra time for air and road travel, as aftershocks may cause brief disruptions. Stay informed about road conditions, especially in hilly areas, due to the potential risk of landslides.

As a precautionary measure, individuals are advised to move away from low-lying coastal areas until local authorities confirm that there is no local tsunami threat. The USGS reported that the epicentre of the earthquake was situated at a depth of 9.9 km and occurred at 4:28 pm Eastern Time. Shortly after, a 4.2 magnitude aftershock struck from a similar depth at exactly 5 pm ET. The National Weather Service’s Tsunami Warning centre (TWC) in Palmer, Alaska, has issued numerous bulletins regarding this seismic event, assuring residents that there is currently no tsunami threat.

Tsunamis, massive waves caused by underwater earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, gain height as they move from the depths of the ocean toward land. The speed of tsunami waves depends on the depth of the ocean, not the distance from the wave source. These waves can travel as fast as jet planes over deep waters but slow down as they reach shallow waters. It is important to note that while tsunamis are often referred to as tidal waves, oceanographers discourage the use of this term as tides have little association with these enormous waves.

According to the TWC’s statement released at 5:35 pm ET, there is no tsunami danger for the U.S. east coast, the Gulf of Mexico states, or the eastern coast of Canada. Based on historical records and earthquake data, it is not expected that this earthquake will generate a tsunami. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Honolulu, Hawaii, also issued a bulletin around the same time, stating that there is no tsunami threat to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or the British Virgin Islands.

Within the last 24 hours, Puerto Rico has experienced a series of 15 earthquakes. The two recent quakes have been the most intense, following a powerful 6.4 magnitude earthquake in January 2020, which resulted in extensive damage across the island, including widespread power failures. Since December 2019, ongoing seismic activity and unrest have persisted in the region surrounding the January 2020 epicentre. Within the last 39 days, a total of 295 earthquakes have occurred near this area, with 68 of them happening within the last 7 days.

These earthquakes are concentrated near the northern edge of the Caribbean Plate, an oceanic tectonic plate that lies beneath Central America and the Caribbean Sea, adjacent to the North American Plate, the South American Plate, the Nazca Plate, and the Cocos Plate. The boundaries of these plates are prone to continuous seismic activity, including frequent earthquakes, occasional tsunamis, and even volcanic eruptions.

The U.S. government conducts annual tsunami drills for the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts in collaboration with various international agencies and partners. While regions like Hawaii, Alaska, and the U.S. West Coast are generally more susceptible to earthquakes and tsunamis, it is essential to recognize that catastrophic tsunami events could occur on the east coast as well.

In light of this recent seismic activity, it is crucial to focus on the lives lost or injured and provide immediate aid and assistance to those affected. The authorities, alongside local and international organizations, are working tirelessly to evaluate the present conditions and extend the necessary support to the impacted communities.

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