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Increased Earthquake Activity Not Unusual


Jan. 11, 2005 – If you've been paying close attention, it may seem like the territory has seen a lot of small earthquakes lately. However, scientists say that is normal for this part of the world.
"We've had periods of more seismicity," Christa von Hillebrandt -Andrade, who heads the Puerto Rico Seismic Network, said Tuesday.
John Minch at the National Earthquake Center in Golden, Colo., agreed.
He said that periods of high seismicity come and go in the Caribbean region.
"Sometimes they last for a few months and then go away," he said.
Von Hillebrandt -Andrade said that lately the Sombrero seismic zone that sits north of the Virgin Islands has generated a lot of activity.
Both she and Minch agree that there's no increased risk caused by this swarm of earthquakes.
So far eight earthquakes have been recorded in the region for January. The largest one felt in the Virgin Islands was recorded Jan. 2 by the Seismic Network as a 3.7 on the Richter Scale.
In December, there were 81 earthquakes, including an earthquake on Dec. 11 that registered between 4.5 and 5.7 that was widely felt in the Virgin Islands.
In all of 2004, the Seismic Network recorded 1, 048 earthquakes in the region. In 2003, there were 947. In 2002 and 2001, each year saw 967 earthquakes.
Von Hillebrandt -Andrade said that since the Dec. 26, 2004 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated southern Asian countries that ring the Indian Ocean, interest is way up.
She suggested that people put the energy they expend on worrying into preparation.
"The potential is there for a large earthquake or tsunami. It could be next week or years from now," she said.
She said the Seismic Network is working on ways to increase communication to the public in the event a major earthquake occurs.
Efforts are underway to develop a tsunami warning system. U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman last week proposed a bill creating a global tsunami warning system. He said in a news release he plans to make the proposal as soon as the next Congress begins.
The legislation is expected to authorize $30 million for purchasing the sensors and covering United States contributions to the international early warning system.

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