A 6.5 magnitude earthquake rocked Puerto Rico today at 3:24 a.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, January 7, 2020, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Three more strong aftershocks hit the island territory within an hour of the initial quake.
The quake’s epicenter was located 14 miles southwest of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Over the past several weeks, hundreds of small earthquakes have occurred in the Puerto Rico region, which began with a magnitude 4.7 earthquake late on December 28.
Since the 4.7 magnitude quake, over 360 magnitudes 2+ earthquakes have occurred in this region, seven of which were M 4+, including a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck Puerto Rico on January 6, 2020.
Tectonics in Puerto Rico are dominated by the convergence between the North America and Caribbean plates, with the island being squeezed between the two.
To the north of Puerto Rico, North America subducts beneath the Caribbean plate along the Puerto Rico trench.
To the south of the island, and south of today’s earthquake, Caribbean plate upper crust subducts beneath Puerto Rico at the Muertos Trough.
The January 6 earthquake, and other recent nearby events, are occurring in the offshore deformation zone bound by the Punta Montalva Fault on land and the Guayanilla Canyon offshore.