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More than 16,000 earthquakes recorded in this century... New Map Pinpoints Past Caribbean Earthquakes
Released: 7/13/1998

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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Reston, VA 20192
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Phone: 303-236-5900 x302

More than 16,000 earthquakes recorded in the Caribbean region during this century are colorfully presented on a new wall map created by the U.S.Geological Survey (USGS), in collaboration with the Middle America Seismograph Consortium (MIDAS).

The Caribbean region is characterized by complex tectonic-plate interactions that are capable of producing large destructive earthquakes, seismic sea waves (tsunamis), and explosive volcanoes. Accurate and detailed seismicity maps like this help define the interaction between the tectonic plates, and provide valuable insight into the seismic hazard in the region. The map also depicts existing volcanoes and thus points out areas where existing geologic hazards pose a potential threat to life and property.

"The last seismicity map of the Caribbean was produced more than 15 years ago," said Randy Updike, Chief Scientist of the USGS Central Geologic Hazards Team in Golden, Colorado, which houses the USGS National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC). "The up-to-date information illustrated on this map will clearly aid our understanding of the earthquake hazard in this very seismically active region of the world."

Epicentral locations of earthquakes with magnitude 4.2 or greater that have occurred in the years 1900 to 1994 are indicated on the map. Population centers with more than 25,000 inhabitants are also shown. Through the creative use of colored symbols, three separate magnitude ranges and four distinct depth ranges are distinguished for the several thousand earthquakes shown.

The compilation of more than 16,000 earthquakes was the result of a collaborative effort between the USGS/NEIC, MIDAS, the Instituto Panamericano de Geografia e Historia (IPGH), the International Seismological Centre (ISC), the University of the West Indies (UWI), the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), the Centro de Coordinación para la Prevención de Desastres Naturales en América Central (CEPREDENAC), and the Centro Regional de Sismología para América del Sur (CERESIS).

The Middle America Seismograph Consortium (MIDAS) is an organization of seismological institutes and observatories from Central America and the Caribbean that provides an international framework for regional cooperation in the study of earthquakes, the exchange of earthquake data, and the dissemination of seismologic information. The USGS has been cooperating directly with MIDAS since its inception in 1990. This cooperation has been significantly enhanced with the recent establishment of the MIDAS Electronic Seismic Data and Information Center at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez, which serves as a clearinghouse for earthquake data from the Middle America region. These data are subsequently used by the USGS National Earthquake Information Center to locate and quantify earthquake occurrence in the region and improve the USGS capability for public alerting of large and damaging earthquakes.

The map, Caribbean Seismicity, 1900-1994, can be obtained for $12 by contacting:

Earthquake Maps, U.S. Geological Survey Box 25046, Denver Federal Center, MS 967 Denver, CO 80225-0046 Tel: (303) 273-8477 Fax: (303) 273-8444

For additional information about the map or the NEIC contact:

C. Mendoza Tel: (303) 273-8409 E-mail: mendoza@usgs.gov

For additional, updated information about the USGS:


For additional information about the USGS-NEIC:


For additional information about MIDAS:


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