6.1 Earthquake Hits San Jose Costa Rica
It’s Been a Shaky Start to New Year in Costa Rica.
An earthquake just shook San Jose, Costa Rica, today, Jan. 08, 2009 at 1:21 p.m. with a preliminary magnitude estimated at 6.1 on the Richter Scale. The epicenter is estimated to be 22 miles northwest of the country’s capital city and shockwaves were felt 30 minutes after the original tremor. It is unclear how far the effects were felt. Total damage has yet to be analyzed, but witnesses in a local grocery store noted items falling off of shelves and breaking in the aisles.
This is the second significant earthquake to his Costa Rica in just two days. Yesterday’s quake rocked Alajuela just five kilometers east of the Poas volcano and measured 4.0 on the Richter Scale. Though it was hardly felt in the neighboring province of San Jose, the quake lasted for several minutes, and started around 10 a.m. This one had a depth of 6 kilometers, and is said to not be related to the volcano.
Today’s earthquake nearly matched the strongest earthquake that occurred in all of 2008, which registered 6.2 on the Richter scale on November 19. There were a total of 4,726 earthquakes last year, though only 60 were strong enough to be felt by residents.
Costa Rica is set over a series of fault lines, which helped to create the central mountain range that exist today. Volcanic activity has been present throughout the country’s history, though residents expect the next “Big one” to hit any day in the Guanacaste region. This theory developed due to large earthquakes hitting the region on average every 50 years. The next to come was theoretically slated for the turn of the century, though the country hasn’t felt anything yet strong enough to qualify. The last ‘big ones’ to hit the region occurred in 1853, 1900, and 1950. Seismologists attest that the fears are not unfounded, though it is likely that the date could vary by up to 10 years or more.