Since late December 2019, Puerto Rico, which is located between the North America and the Caribbean Tectonic Plates, has experienced very active seismic activity with a series of more than 150 earthquakes M3.0+, six of which were M 5.0+, including the largest (M 6.4) on January 7, which unfortunately caused the loss of one life, extensive damage in the southern towns of Guánica, Guayanilla, Yauco and Ponce, and a water and electricity blackout all throughout the island which lasted up to a couple of days.
Most Puerto Ricans are now feeling nervous and anxious but specially the ones that live in the south coast, near the epicenter of the recent strongest earthquake, who have been evacuated. Many structures including schools, churches, government buildings, roads, bridges and hospitals among others have been damaged or are cataloged not suitable to enter, live or work. Thousands from the affected area have been relocated to shelters provided by the government. Others are sleeping outdoor. Recovery efforts by the government and volunteer work by non-profit organizations and civilians, are on their way amidst ongoing tremors and aftershocks. Many are afraid of not if, but when the next one will hit.
In the meantime, experts and professionals from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Puerto Rico Seismic Network (PRSN) are on the ground doing research. They have installed six seismometers that will help seismologists better monitor earthquakes, document the strength of ground shaking, estimate potential earthquake damage and forecast aftershocks.
Hopefully, the aftershocks and M 5.0+ type earthquakes will continue to decrease in frequency over the next 30 days and life will return to normal for most Puerto Ricans. I am 100% confident we will resiliently come together as before and will overcome the effects of this natural disaster.
Written by LARM Puerto Rico