Magnitude 7.0 - HAITI REGION

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2010 January 12 21:53:10 UTC

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Earthquake Details

  • This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.
Location18.443°N, 72.571°W
Depth13 km (8.1 miles) set by location program
Distances25 km (15 miles) WSW of PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti
130 km (80 miles) E of Les Cayes, Haiti
150 km (95 miles) S of Cap-Haitien, Haiti
1125 km (700 miles) SE of Miami, Florida
Location Uncertaintyhorizontal +/- 3.4 km (2.1 miles); depth fixed by location program
ParametersNST=312, Nph=312, Dmin=143.7 km, Rmss=0.93 sec, Gp= 25°,
M-type=teleseismic moment magnitude (Mw), Version=9
Event IDus2010rja6
  • Help for Haiti: Learn What You Can Do
  • Did you feel it? Report shaking and damage at your location. You can also view a map displaying accumulated data from your report and others.

Earthquake Summary

Small globe showing earthquakeSmall map showing earthquake

Earthquake Summary Poster

  • 2/23/10-USGS Updates Assessment of Earthquake Hazard and Safety in Haiti and the Caribbean
  • Felt Reports

    According to official estimates, 316,000 people killed, 300,000 injured, 1.3 million displaced, 97,294 houses destroyed and 188,383 damaged in the Port-au-Prince area and in much of southern Haiti. Other estimates suggest substantially lower numbers of casualties, perhaps as low as fewer than 100,000. The casualties include at least 4 people killed by a local tsunami in the Petit Paradis area near Leogane. Tsunami waves were also reported at Jacmel, Les Cayes, Petit Goave, Leogane, Luly and Anse a Galets. The tsunami had recorded wave heights (peak-to-trough) of 12 cm at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and 2 cm at Christiansted, US Virgin Islands. Uplift was observed along the coast from Leogane to L'Acul and subsidence was observed along the coast from Grand Trou to Port Royal. Felt (VIII) at Leogane; (VII) at Carrefour, Port-au-Prince and Petionville; (VI) at Vieux Bourg d'Aquin; (V) at Port-de-Paix. Felt (V) at La Vega, Moca and San Cristobal; (IV) at Bani, Bonao, Luperon, Nagua, Puerto Plata, Santiago, Santo Domingo and Sosua, Dominican Republic. Felt throughout Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Felt (III) at Oranjestad, Aruba; (IV) at Santiago de Cuba and (III) at Guantanamo, Cuba; (II) in the Kingston-Mona area, Jamaica; (II) at Carolina and San Juan, Puerto Rico; (III) at Cockburn Harbour and (II) at Cockburn Town, Turks and Caicos Islands; (III) at Maracaibo and (II) at Caracas, Venezuela. Felt in parts of The Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands and as far as southern Florida, northern Colombia and northwestern Venezuela.

    Tectonic Summary

    The January 12, 2010, Haiti earthquake occurred in the boundary region separating the Caribbean plate and the North America plate. This plate boundary is dominated by left-lateral strike slip motion and compression, and accommodates about 20 mm/y slip, with the Caribbean plate moving eastward with respect to the North America plate.

    Haiti occupies the western part of the island of Hispaniola, one of the Greater Antilles islands, situated between Puerto Rico and Cuba. At the longitude of the January 12 earthquake, motion between the Caribbean and North American plates is partitioned between two major east-west trending, strike-slip fault systems -- the Septentrional fault system in northern Haiti and the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault system in southern Haiti.

    The location and focal mechanism of the earthquake are consistent with the event having occurred as a combination of reverse and left-lateral strike slip faulting on the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault system. The overall Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault system accommodates about 7 mm/y of motion, nearly half the total oblique convergence between the Caribbean and North America plates. The January 12 main shock did not produce observable surface displacement on the geomorphologically well-expressed main-strand of the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault system, but appears instead to have primarily involved rupture of a fault or faults distinct from the previously mapped principal strand, causing significant uplift of the Léogâne delta.

    The Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault system has not produced a major earthquake in recent decades. The EPGFZ is the likely source of historical large earthquakes in 1860, 1770, and 1751, though none of these has been confirmed in the field as associated with this fault.

    Sequence of events possibly associated with the Enriquillo fault in 1751-1860 are as follows.

    October 18, 1751: a major earthquake caused heavy destruction in the gulf of Azua (the eastern end of the Enriquillo Fault) which also generated a tsunami. It is unclear if the rupture occurred on the Muertos thrust belt or on the eastern end of Enriquillo Fault.

    Nov. 21, 1751: a major earthquake destroyed Port-au-Prince but was centered to the east of the city on the Plaine du Cul-de-Sac.

    June 3, 1770: a major earthquake destroyed Port-au-Prince again and appeared to be centered west of the city. As a result of the 1751 and 1770 earthquakes and minor ones in between, the authorities required building with wood and forbade building with masonry.

    April 8, 1860: there was a major earthquake farther west accompanied by a tsunami.

  • Aftershock Report

    In the time period since the earthquake's origin at 2010-01-12 21:53 to 2010-02-23 17:00 UTC, the USGS NEIC has located 59 aftershocks of magnitude 4.5 or greater. Sixteen of these aftershocks have magnitudes of 5.0 or greater. The two largest aftershocks were magnitude 6.0 and 5.9. The M 6.0 aftershock occurred 7 minutes after the mainshock on January 12 and the M 5.9 event occurred at 11:03 UTC on January 20.

    See Aftershock Map. (Map is updated manually and may be missing the latest information.)

  • Earthquake Information for Caribbean

    USGS Podcast Interview: Michael Blanpied, associate coordinator for the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program, answers questions about the earthquake, its severe shaking, and the possibility of additional hazards, such as landslides and a tsunami.

    Poster of the Seismicity of the Caribbean Plate and Vicinity

    USGS Podcast Interview: Help in Haiti - The Role of Science

    Tsunami Information

    The earthquake locations and magnitudes cited in NOAA tsunami statements and bulletins are preliminary and are superseded by USGS locations and magnitudes computed using more extensive data sets.

    General Tsunami Information