Florida Keys News
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Another quake north of Cuba

Another earthquake rumbled south of the Florida Keys Wednesday, nearly a month to the day following a similar quake in January.

Wednesday's 10:19 p.m. earthquake registered a magnitude 4.3 after striking 107 miles southeast of Key West, 7.8 miles below the ocean floor about four miles north of Marti, Cuba, according to scientists.

There was no tsunami threat and no damage or injuries reported in the Florida Keys, according to the National Weather Service in Key West.

An earthquake with a magnitude 5.1 struck 110 miles southeast of Key West and about 10 miles north of Cuba on Jan. 9. There was no damage or injuries reported in that quake either.

"This one occurred in the same general area as the last one," said Jon Rizzo, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service and the Monroe County warning coordination meteorologist.

The quake was felt from Marathon to Key West, according to posts by the National Weather Service on social media.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) in Golden, Colo., and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska, confirmed the quake Wednesday night on both websites.

There was also a 4.2 earthquake reported Monday off the British Islands, which is an area more prone for quakes given the continental shelf near there, said National Tsunami Warning Center scientist James Waddell.

"We expect it more in that area," Waddell said of the quake on Monday.

It's less common to have earthquakes in the area north of Cuba, said John Bellini, a geophysicist with the USGS.

"It's interesting, but not surprising," Bellini said of the quake. "It's rare to have earthquakes in that area, but typically where you have one, you can have one again."

All of the earthquakes are far too small to cause any property damage and injuries.

"You need at least a 7 to cause a tsunami," Bellini said. "Even something as large as a 6 won't cause significant damage, though you would certainly feel it."

The larger quake in January fell somewhere between a 3 and 4 on the Mercalli intensity scale, which is the seismic scale used for measuring the intensity of an earthquake. The commonly referred-to Richter scale is used to measure the amount of energy released.

"The Mercalli scale is more how people feel it," former National Tsunami Warning Center scientist Guy Urban explained to The Citizen in January. The Mercalli scale goes from one to 12, with 12 being massive destruction.

There were two earthquakes to rock Key West previously, but those occurred in January 1880 in Cuba, according to the United States Geological Survey website. Those occurred on Jan. 22 and on Jan. 23. Most of the damage -- including several deaths -- occurred in Cuba in those quakes.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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