Open-File Report 2011–1133
Earthquakes have been documented in the northeastern Caribbean since the arrival of Columbus to the Americas; written accounts of these felt earthquakes exist in various parts of the world. To better understand the earthquake cycle in the Caribbean, the records of earthquakes in earlier catalogs and historical documents from various archives, which are now available online, were critically examined. This report updates previous catalogs of earthquakes, in particular earthquakes in Hispaniola, to give to the public the most comprehensive documentation of earthquake damage and to further the understanding of the earthquake cycle in the northeastern Caribbean.
Documentation of an event in the past depended on the population and political trends of the island, and the availability of historical documents is limited by the physical resource digitization schedule and by the copyright laws of each archive. Examples of documents accessed are governors’ letters, newspapers, and other circulars published within the Caribbean, North America, and Western Europe. Key words were used to search for publications that contain eyewitness accounts of various large earthquakes. Finally, this catalog provides descriptions of damage to buildings used in previous studies for the estimation of moment intensity (MI) and location of significantly damaging or felt earthquakes in Hispaniola and in the northeastern Caribbean, all of which have been described in other studies.
First posted February 1, 2012
For additional information contact:
U.S. Geological Survey
Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
384 Woods Hole Road
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Flores, C.F., ten Brink, U.S., and Bakun, W.H., 2012, Accounts of damage from historical earthquakes in the northeastern Caribbean to aid in the determination of their location and intensity magnitudes: U.S. Geological Survey, Open-File Report 2011–1133, 237 p., at https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2011/1133.
Features of interest included in this catalog
Source Search Method
The Bulletins from the meteorological observatory in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Catalog of earthquakes with their descriptions
Earthquakes from 1500 to the end of the 17th Century
Earthquakes of the 18th Century
Earthquakes of the 19th Century
Selected Earthquakes of the 20th Century
Other Significant Earthquakes of the Caribbean
Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands
List of Events Studied by the Authors
Maps of the Northern Caribbean
Historical events of interest on the island of Hispaniola
Index of Earthquakes by Island and by Year
Quoted text extracted from de Utrera (1995, p. 17–18) explaining that the true date of the "1564" earthquake is actually December 2, 1562, based on evidence from contemporary source
Geographic locations used in the catalog for the Northern Caribbean