Powerful Earthquake Shakes Pacific 110 Miles From El Salvador
August 27, 2012

Powerful Earthquake Shakes Pacific 110 Miles From El Salvador

Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

A powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of El Salvador Sunday night, followed by a 5.4 magnitude aftershock an hour later, according to a report by the US Geological Survey.

The quake´s epicenter was about 110 miles southeast of the capital San Salvador, and was located about 33 miles underground. Following the temblor, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued an alert, saying the quake had spawned a tsunami.

“Sea level readings confirm that a tsunami was generated,” the alert center said, stating the threat extended to all Central American countries and Mexico. The warning went up shortly after the 10:37 p.m. quake, and was later canceled.

David Walsh of the PTWC in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, said the tsunami was minor, only registering 3.94 inches off the coast of Acajutla, El Salvador. There was no immediate confirmations on where the wave landed, and there have been no reports of casualties or damage as a result of the quake and tsunami.

El Salvador´s Civil Protection Service Director Jorge Melendez said there was no tsunami threat for his country.

“The US Geological Survey has recorded a 7.4-point earthquake, but our observatory here recorded just a 5.7-point tremor,” he told the AFP. Due to the significant distance from the epicenter, Melendez said the earthquake was barely felt in El Salvador.

He noted that despite not issuing a tsunami alert, people in coastal villages and other coastal regions should maintain “a certain level of vigilance.”

The earthquake´s reading was based on the open-ended Moment Magnitude scale used by US seismologists, which measures the area of the fault that ruptured and the total amount of energy released. The USGS gave an initial estimate of magnitude 7.4, but later revised it to 7.3.

The El Salvador quake was preceded by a 4.3 magnitude tremor off the coast of Guatemala earlier Sunday. Also, a swarm of hundreds of small quakes struck southern California throughout the day on Sunday, knocking trailers off their foundations and breaking windows. The largest quake in that region was a 5.5 magnitude tremor. No injuries have been reported in any of the quakes on Sunday.

El Salvador is on the so-called Ring of Fire, an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.