USGS says 5 quakes normal in settings like CNMI


A U.S. Geological Survey seismologist assured yesterday that the five earthquakes that occurred near Rota and Saipan last week are normal and expected in tectonic settings like the CNMI.

In response to Saipan Tribune questions about the series of earthquakes, USGS Alaska Volcano Observatory research geophysicist and seismologist Aaron G. Wech said the recent earthquakes southeast of Saipan are the result of the Pacific plate colliding with and sinking beneath the Philippine Sea plate.

Wech said in an email that movement between the two plates creates earthquakes, and temblors can also occur within the down-going Pacific plate as it bends and continually deforms as a result of the collision.

He said both types of activity are normal in tectonic settings.

The CNMI is located within the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Wech said that aving five earthquakes are not particularly unusual.

The seismologist said the first event was large enough to generate aftershocks, which likely explains the subsequent activity. Wech said there is no scientific reason to think that these events mean that a larger destructive earthquake is imminent.

“However, they do serve as a good reminder to remain aware of and prepared for local seismic and tsunami hazards,” he said. (Ferdie de la Torre)

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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