Barbadians may be surprised to learn that a record 375 earthquakes were recorded in this island’s seismic zone last year.
This was revealed by leading seismologist Dr Joan Latchman of the Trinidad-based University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (WISRC) during a lecture to mark Earthquake and Tsunamis Smart month.
Warning that the island was not “immune to earthquakes”, Dr Latchman explained that of the 375 tremors, over 170 events were of magnitude 3.6 to 4.0.
In such circumstances, Dr Latchman said it was a little difficult to understand why Barbadians continued to think and say that earthquakes did not affect them, pointing out that there were events in the island’s history that had caused significant impact, “going all the way back to 1866 and then in 1844.
“So Barbadians could, but they should not consider themselves immune to earthquakes,” Dr Latchman cautioned as she delivered her lecture entitled Earthquakes and Tsunamis in the Caribbean; 50 years verses 500 years at the Barbados Public Workers Credit Union.
The seismologist further warned that the Caribbean was overdue for a major 8.0 earthquake, suggesting that events of this magnitude “tend to occur every 100 or so years”.
She said the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which has been blamed for over 300,000 deaths, should have been enough of a wake-up call for the region to “sit up and take stock and say this is serious.
“It is now five years since Haiti and I don’t see the kinds of improvement that we should have seen as a result of Haiti, I don’t understand it,” she lamented.
In Barbados’ case, she noted that the largest earthquake to occur off the island last year was a 6.6 and this was preceded by a 6.3.