5.2 Magnitude Earthquake Friday Shakes USVI, Makes Waves

U.S. Geological Survey map of Friday’s earthquake north of St. John. (Image courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey)

A moderate magnitude 5.2 earthquake rumbled through the U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Friday evening. Initial reports suggest that many, if not most St. Thomas and St. John residents felt it but it was much less noticeable by the time it reached St. Croix. A large wave passed by soon after the initial shock, rocking boats.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports the quake occurred at 5:21 p.m. and was centered about 44 kilometers north of Road Town, British Virgin Islands.

The area is seismically active and typically experiences one or more tiny quakes, from magnitude 1 to around 3.5, nearly every day. But quakes of 5.2 are considerably less common. Quakes have caused tsunami in the region but have rarely been dangerous. More than a century and a half ago, on Nov. 18, 1867, a major tsunami killed five to six hundred people in the territory and smaller numbers in the BVI and Puerto Rico.

The USVI recently installed a number of tsunami warning sirens but they have been offline since last fall’s hurricanes. A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck much further away, near the Cayman Islands, on Jan. 9, resulting in a tsunami alert, which was canceled before it was issued in the territory. There was no damage to the territory from that quake.

Advertising (skip)
Advertising (skip)
Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Support the VI Source

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall - we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. Our sites are more popular than ever, but advertising revenues are falling - so you can see why we could use your help. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. If everybody who appreciates our reporting efforts were to help fund it for as little as $1, our future would be much more secure. Thanks in advance for your support!