Chief Meteorologist Craig Setzer Explains The ScienceBy Craig Setzer

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A magnitude 7.7 earthquake occurred Tuesday afternoon around 2:10 p.m. along a section of the Oriente fault between Cuba and Jamaica.

The fault line, called a strike-slip fault, is where two segments of the earth crust slide past each other.

Along this fault, as tension builds, earthquakes occur to release the strain.

Because the North American plate and the Caribbean plate are sliding and not impinging on each other, it’s uncommon for earthquakes in these areas to produce tsunamis, except in the case of underwater landslides.

Tuesday’s 7.7 earthquake was followed by a magnitude 6.5 earthquake hours later near Grand Cayman.

Two years ago a magnitude 7.6 earthquake occurred west of the Caymans along a separate segment of the fault.

This earthquake activity is not related to the recent quakes in Puerto Rico.

The seismic energy of the quake was felt as far away as Cancun, Mexico and Nassau in the Bahamas.

The shaking was also felt in Tampa and Orlando, but was most pronounced in Miami-Dade and Broward, especially in taller buildings that swayed, as the earth below gently shook.

More aftershocks are likely in the Caribbean in the coming days.

Craig Setzer

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