2009 Swan Islands earthquake

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2009 Swan Islands earthquake
2009 Swan Islands earthquake is located in Central America
2009 Swan Islands earthquake
UTC time2009-05-28 08:24:46
ISC event12867661
Local dateMay 28, 2009 (2009-05-28)
Local time02:24
Magnitude7.3 Mw
Depth10 kilometres (6 mi)
Epicenter16°44′N 86°13′W / 16.73°N 86.22°W / 16.73; -86.22Coordinates: 16°44′N 86°13′W / 16.73°N 86.22°W / 16.73; -86.22
FaultSwan Islands Transform Fault
Areas affectedHonduras
Max. intensityVII (Very strong)
Casualties7 killed

The 2009 Swan Islands earthquake occurred on May 28 at 02:24:45 AM local time with a moment magnitude of 7.3 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of VII (Very strong). The epicenter was located in the Caribbean Sea, 64 kilometres (40 mi) northeast of the island of Roatán, 19 miles northeast of Port Royal, Isla de Bahias, 15 miles northwest of Isla Barbaretta, and 130 kilometres (81 mi) north-northeast of La Ceiba.[1] Three aftershocks followed the earthquake within magnitude 4 range.[2]


The earthquake occurred at a depth of around 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) on a transform fault zone known as the Swan Islands Transform Fault on the southern margin of the Cayman Trough. It was a result of left-lateral strike-slip faulting. The Swan Island Transform Fault forms part of the tectonic boundary between the North American Plate and the Caribbean Plate, and continues onshore as the Motagua Fault and the Chixoy-Polochic Fault.

The 30-second offshore quake was felt in Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize, and as far as Cancún in Mexico. It was also felt in parts of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Cuba, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands.[1][3][4]


The damaged Democracy Bridge in El Progreso

The earthquake caused at least seven fatalities, 40 injuries, and more than 130 collapsed or damaged buildings across northern Honduras.[1] Two important bridges and a number of levees and port terminals were also seriously damaged.[5] In the Guatemalan department of Izabal, 35 buildings were destroyed and 80 were damaged. In Belize, at least 5 buildings were also destroyed and 25 were damaged. In Roatan, one home was damaged and one injury occurred.[1][6] The earthquake caused an estimated $37 million worth of damage, and electricity, Internet and telephone connections were cut throughout the majority of Honduras.[7]

A tsunami watch was put into effect by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center for Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize and was discontinued 90 minutes after the earthquake occurred.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d USGS. "Magnitude 7.3 - OFFSHORE HONDURAS". Archived from the original on 31 May 2009. Retrieved 28 May 2009.
  2. ^ "7.3-Magnitude Quake off the Honduras Coast : Natural Hazards". earthobservatory.nasa.gov. 2009-05-28. Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  3. ^ a b BBC (2009-05-28). "Major quake strikes off Honduras". BBC News. Archived from the original on 23 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  4. ^ Cuevas, Freddy (2009-05-28). "7.1 earthquake topples homes, kills 6 in Honduras". Miami Herald. Retrieved 2009-05-30.
  5. ^ Belarbi, A., Luna, R., Applegate, K., Calderon, H., Rivera, O., Lopez, L.A. and Rodriguez, R., 2009. The M7.3 Honduras Earthquake of May 28, 2009, EERI Special Earthquake Report, 1–4
  6. ^ La Tribuna. "Seísmo destruyó 35 viviendas y dañó otras 80 en el Caribe guatemalteco". Retrieved 2009-05-29.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "7.1 Earthquake Hits Honduras, Belize". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-02-15.

Further reading[edit]

  • Graham, S. E.; Demets, C.; Deshon, H. R.; Rogers, R.; Maradiaga, M. Rodriguez; Strauch, W.; Wiese, K.; Hernandez, D. (2012), "GPS and seismic constraints on the M = 7.3 2009 Swan Islands earthquake: Implications for stress changes along the Motagua fault and other nearby faults", Geophysical Journal International, 190 (3): 1625–1639, Bibcode:2012GeoJI.190.1625G, doi:10.1111/j.1365-246X.2012.05560.x

External links[edit]