Earthquakes in Panama? Absolutely
Panama is part of the Pacific Rim and Earthquakes do Happen Here
Contrary to many tourism articles, Panama does have its share of seismic activity – aka earthquakes. This country sits on the Pacific Rim and some shakers are inevitable. Thankfully the shakers are usually low on the Richter Scale and do very little if any damage.
So this is not meant to be a frightening post, but depending where you decide to build, buy or rent your home or commercial building, you should be aware that you need to do your seismic substructure homework first.
Most of the earthquakes in Panama occur in the mountainous Chiriqui Province, which has not one but two volcanic craters – Volcan Baru and El Valle de Anton – both extinct.
The last significant earthquake activity occurred on November 17th of last year. Three earthquakes, two of them of magnitude 4.2 and another of 4.5 on the Richter scale shook western Panama, without casualties or damage. The Institute of Geosciences at the University of Panama said on its website that the first 4.2 magnitude quake occurred at 8.32 a.m. local time (1.32 p.m. GMT) in the Chiriqui highlands bordering Costa Rica. The 4.5 magnitude quake happened at 3 p.m. in local time (8 p.m. GMT) and was centered near Punta Burica Lemons, also in the province of Chiriqui. No numbers have been released on the third quake.
Abelardo Serrano, the Regional Director of the National Civil Protection System (SINAPROC) in the province of Chiriqui puts things in perspective. He said SINAPROC is preparing the public for the possibility of any earthquake, and they said the main thing is to remain calm. Serrano said that the people population in Chiriqui has to learn to live with the threat of earthquakes, and for this they should prepare themselves beforehand, during and after the event.
Why? Because 26 of the 50 earthquakes that have occurred in Panama in recent years have happened in the Chiriqui province.
The quakes are rated on the scale as follows, 10 – extraordinary, 9 – outstanding, 8 – far-reaching, 7 – high, 6 – noteworthy, 5 – intermediate, 4 – moderate, 3 – minor, 2 – low and 1 – insignificant.
Some other noteworthy quake activity in 2011-2012
A 6.6 beast hit 350 kilometers from and David was recorded at 7:45 p.m. on Sunday, June 3, 2012. Six pre-Christmas earthquakes hit in 2011. The first quake was on Sunday, December 18, at 8:47 a.m., at a 4.6, with an epicenter 100 kilometers southeast of the island of Coiba, in the Perlas Islands. Another 4.0 quake hit off the coast of Jaque in the eastern province of the Darien border with Colombia on Monday, at 8:34 p.m. Then on Tuesday, there was a hit of 4.2 in the Pacific, 30 miles west of Coiba at a depth of 17.4 kilometers. On the same day at 2:33 a.m. there was another tremor of 4.7 in the Gulf of Panama, offshore of Jaque. Then there was a 4.5 hit on Wednesday, December 21 in Puerto Armuelles and Alanje Baru, both in Chiriqui, bordering Costa Rica. The same day there was another tremor, at 3:14 p.m., with magnitude 4.7, 150 kilometers southwest of the island of Coiba.
Earthquakes do happen in Panama. Make sure your foundations are safe and sound.