NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The island of Puerto Rico hasn’t stopped trembling since late December with recent earthquakes began.
The strongest hit about a week ago.
But is the frequency of quakes normal, and is there an end in sight?
Homes crumbeled, others cracked. Those standing unscathed feel as unsafe as the rest. That’s why so many residents of Puerto Rico are choosing to sleep outside, many in tents.
“I try to calm my kids, but it’s very difficult,” one mother said.
Since the end of December, the southwest quadrant of the island has been rattled by 2,272 quakes.
“There was not much of a hint prior to this that anything like this would happen,” said James Davis, a research professor at Columbia’s Dougherty Earth Observatory. “I don’t think we understand yet why that has happened.”
“It is a little unusual,” he said.
Davis says it’s not so much about the number of quakes, it’s the strength of them.
“Here we’re having moderate to large sized earthquakes fairly frequently. It’s near where people live and that’s unusual. I’d say it’s uncommon for that kind of sequence to occur.” he said.
“Uncommon anywhere or just in Puerto Rico?” asked CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock.
“I would say it’s uncommon across the earth,” Davis said.
He adds the terms “unusual” and “uncommon” don’t mean “uh oh, what’s going to happen next?” In fact, we can’t be certain what will.
The United States Geological Survey does put out an aftershock forecast, using percentages to express how likely different scenarios are to occur.
In the next week, there’s a 3% chance of another magnitude 6.4 or greater will shock the island. Within 30 days, there’s a 79% chance aftershocks will become less frequent and less intense than a 6.4. That’s the most likely scenario.