Special Reports
Regional Location:

Preliminary Magnitude:

Greenwich Mean Date:
Greenwich Mean Time:
Focal Depth:


ML 5.2 (PRSN), Mb 5.5 (NEIC), Mw 6.0 (NEIC),

11:29:28 (7:29 a.m. local time)
5 km

Moderate earthquake shakes the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico

Seismo-Watch More Special Earthquake Reports

October 16, 2001

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - An earthquake measuring Mb 5.4 (NEIC), Mw 6.0 (NEIC) was recorded off the northern coast of the Virgin Islands, but did not cause any serious damage or injuries.

According to the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) in Golden, Colorado, the earthquake occurred at 4:27 a.m., October 16, about 60 miles north-northwest of Road Town, British Virgin Islands, 65 miles north of Charlotte Amalie, Virgin Islands, and some 100 miles northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico in the Atlantic Ocean. The Puerto Rico Seismic Network (PRSN) recorded a slightly less local magnitude of ML 5.2.

It was centered at a depth of 5 km below the surface. The fault plane solution produced by NEIC indicated nearly vertical motion along a northwest trending plane, suggesting the quake did not occur along the Puerto Rico subduction zone, the east-west contact between the Caribbean-North America tectonic plates, but probably along a nearby fracture in the Greater Antilles micro tectonic block.

Felt Reports

The quake was widely felt on the islands, causing windows to rattle, glassware to tinkle and pictures on walls to shake, but no serious damage was reported. Seismo-Watch has no information at this time that items toppled from tables or shelves, although we have reason to believe that shaking was at least this strong. Did you feel this quake?

Foreshocks and aftershocks

The quake was preceded by a M5.7 temblor the previous day at 15:27:27 UTC in nearly the same location with a similar fault plane solution.

Background Information

This was the largest quake in the Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico area since 1979. Six quakes registering M7.0 or stronger have rocked the region, including a pair in the M8 range. See list.

Additional Seismic information links:

Seismograms of the earthquake series from nearby USGS stations:
Mainstream media news reports:
Report update: 12:53:03 PM, Saturday, December 8, 2001

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