Earthquakes in Belize

Belize is not immune from the effects of earthquakes. Earthquakes are caused by movement of the tectonic plates: one plate moving either above or below another plate. There are huge forces required to move such a tectonic plate, and the forces that are required build up over long periods of time. Once the force is large enough to overcome the friction of these giant plates sliding over one another, a big jolt can be felt. These jolts are called earthquakes. And their effects can be devastating.

Belize and the location of tectonic plates

Belize borders directly on two of these tectonic plates: on the Caribbean plate and the North American plate to be exact. On the image below, the tectonic plates in the region are shown as an overlay on a map. 

Tectonic plates of the CaribbeanWhile western Central America has more earthquakes and risks from tsunami’s, it would be incorrect to proclaim Belize to be 100% immune.


Earthquake of 2009 in Honduras and Belize

In 2009, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit Honduras and Belize. The quake struck at 2:24 a.m., 130 kilometers (80 miles) north-northeast off the town of La Ceiba on the Caribbean coast of Honduras. 
 
In Belize, five homes collapsed. At least 25 other homes were severely damaged. The damage was more severe in Honduras. 
 
In Monkey River, the northernmost village in the Toledo District, gaping holes of over a meter deep (four feet) were formed. 
 
A tsunami warning was issued for Honduras, Belize and Guatemala, and later cancelled when no unusual waves were detected. 

Earthquake of 2005 in Honduras and Belize

In 2005, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake occurred off the coast of Honduras. It’s epicenter was located 55 miles west northwest of La Ceiba. Fortunately, this earthquake did not cause any damage.