An earthquake hit Panama earlier today after the South American country was already under a tsunami warning. Considering that this new tremor was only a 5.8 magnitude it’s possible it’s related to the Chilean earthquake felt further down along the South American coastline.
In a related report by The Inquisitr, the 8.2 magnitude Chile earthquake generated a tsunami warning for Peru and Ecuador, and some were worried these geological rumblings might lead to Peru’s volcanoes erupting soon; even the USGS is predicting that we have not yet seen the “big one” predicted by some scientists.
The latest Panama earthquake hit at 4:13 PM local time and was centered in the ocean about 37 miles south of David, Panama, at a depth of 17.3 miles. It’s possible the Chile earthquake triggered by the Nazca plate in turn caused the Cocos plate to shift. As of this writing new Panama tsunami warnings have not been issued but considering the lower magnitude it’s possible that this is not an issue this time.
The USGS says the largest and most seismically active of these plate tectonic boundaries is the Panama Fracture Zone:
“The Panama Fracture Zone terminates in the south at the Galapagos rift zone and in the north at the Middle America trench, where it forms part of the Cocos-Nazca-Caribbean triple junction. Earthquakes along the Panama Fracture Zone are generally shallow, low- to intermediate in magnitude (M<7.2) and are characteristically right-lateral strike-slip faulting earthquakes. Since 1900, the largest earthquake to occur along the Panama Fracture Zone was the July 26, 1962 M7.2 earthquake.”
Earlier reports about the Panama earthquake claimed it was a 6.2 magnitude but it’s since been revised downward. Arturo Alvarado, Panama’s head of emergency services, claims so far there were no reports of earthquake damage or injuries. Still, schools and homes in the area were evacuated as a precaution and a USGS tweet said it had received citizens’ reports that did not indicate anything too life-threatening:
Magnitude 5.8 off coast of Panama. 42 responses from local citizens report shaking as mostly light & moderate: http://t.co/DuToBbcxPW
— USGS (@USGS) April 2, 2014
Regardless, it’s possible that these plate shift may indicate an upcoming larger event. Mark Simons, a geophysicist at Caltech in Pasadena, California, predicted that events like the Panama earthquake may be portents of things to come:
“Could be tomorrow, could be in 50 years; we do not know when it’s going to occur. But the key point here is that this magnitude-8.2 is not the large earthquake that we were expecting for this area. We’re actually still expecting potentially an even larger earthquake. This is the one remaining gap that hasn’t had an earthquake in the last 140 years. We know these two plates come together at about 6, 7 centimeters a year, and if you multiply that by 140 years then the plates should have moved about 11 meters along the fault, and you can make an estimate of the size of earthquake we expect here.”
Are you concerned the Chile and Panama earthquake may be indicating the “big one” is coming in 2014?