San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Normal Year so Far for Earthquake Activity

Though the 344 earthquakes that shook Costa Rica during the month of July might sound like a lot of ground shaking for one month, it was about average, according to University of Costa Rica (UCR) seismologist Mario Fernández.

July had only five more earthquakes than the 339 in June and 23 fewer than the 367 that occurred during July 2004, according to a statement from UCR.

More earthquakes registered 3.5 or more on the Richter scale in July than in June, though only seven of July’s earthquakes were actually felt and reported by citizens.

The largest earthquake measured 5.3 in the northwestern Guanacaste province.

These earthquakes release seismic tension, preventing larger, destruction-causing quakes from occurring, Fernández said.

“It’s a principle in nature that having a lot of small earthquakes diminishes the risk of a large one,” Fernández said, adding that a dangerous earthquake in Costa Rica is unlikely in the near future.

“We’re seeing the seismic levels as very low recently compared to the early 1990s, when there were several strong earthquakes,” Fernández said.

Much of Costa Rica’s volcanic activity in July occurred in the central Pacific area, where the Coco and Caribbean tectonic plates meet, the statement said. Additionally, the area along the Panama border spanning from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea experienced increased activity.

So far this year, there have been 2,135 earthquakes in Costa Rica; last year there were 3,489 earthquakes and 6,175 occurred in 2004.


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