Relax, Jamaica: ‘Eastern Caribbean quakes not a sign we’re next’

Geologist Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee Jr

Geologist Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee Jr is seeking to alleviate the anxiety of Jamaicans who are fearful that the island is next to be struck by a dangerous earthquake due to recent seismic activities in the Eastern Caribbean.

“Is what happening in the Eastern Caribbean going to affect us? The answer is no. Are we at risk? Yes. An earthquake could happen here today or it could happen next week. But it would not be related to what’s happening in the Eastern Caribbean right now,” he said.

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Damage caused by earthquake in Puerto Rico on Tuesday (Photo: Washington Post)

He explained that this is so because the Eastern Caribbean and the region in which Jamaica lies are on different tectonic plates.

Tremors have been rocking Puerto Rico since last week, but two major ones struck on Monday and Tuesday (January 6 and 7). One person was killed in the quake on Tuesday. Then a 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit Dominica on Wednesday, placing Caribbean territories on high alert for possible tsunamis.

Jamaica too has felt its share of tremors recently, but Lyew-Ayee Jr said there is no need to panic. “These tremors that we’ve been feeling, they’re under five, so those are not serious. People are speaking about a 3.5 magnitude but a truck driving past your house is more than a 3.5 so relax,” he said.

Damage from earthquake in Puerto Rico.

But given the unpredictability of an earthquake, Lyew-Ayee said the country should always remain on high alert. “Jamaica should always be on high alert for an earthquake,” he added. To avoid fatalities in the event of an earthquake, he suggests that Jamaicans build structures that are earthquake-resilient.