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DOMINICA – Caribbean warned of possibility of big quake

don-corrietteFrom Barbados Today

ROSEAU –– Coordinator of the Office of Disaster Management (ODM), Don Corriette, is strongly advising preparedness in view of warnings that the Caribbean could experience an 8.0 earthquake.

“Scientists from the Seismic Research Centre have been indicating that the Caribbean is due for a magnitude 8.0 earthquake, and where it is going to take place no one knows,” Corriette told Dominica News Online.

“What we have under our control is our preparedness and, unlike hurricanes which we can forecast and predict and monitor and give tracks and models, we cannot do the same for earthquakes because they are spontaneous; they can just happen,” Corriette noted.

According to, the Caribbean and Central America experienced 15 earthquakes that were 1.5 or greater. There were 88 earthquakes in the Caribbean over the past seven days, 505 in the past month and 3,164 in the past year. Dominica and other islands were recently shaken by a 4.9 earthquake.

Corriette said that in order to prepare, the country must examine its land use policy.

“We have to look at how we build, where we build, the type of structures we build. At a family level, [we have to look at] a family plan for earthquakes. Earthquakes are normally unpredictable and dynamic; you don’t know what is going to happen,” he said.

He however admitted that to prepare for an earthquake of that magnitude is not easy.

Meanwhile, Corriette said the frequency in earthquakes might be because of a combination of two factors: more active plates and more sensitive technology and equipment.

The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre states that most of the earthquakes occurring in the Eastern Caribbean are either tectonic or volcanic in origin. The centre explains that tectonic earthquakes are generated when plates move as accumulated energy is released. Volcanic earthquakes are generated by the movement of magma within the lithosphere. Since magma is less dense than the surrounding rock, it rises to the surface, breaking the rock as it moves, thereby generating earthquakes. In fact, more than 75 per cemt of the world’s earthquakes occur at convergent plate boundaries, the centre says. It added that the countries of the Eastern Caribbean were, therefore, highly susceptible to earthquakes.

“So as we improve on our monitoring systems, chances are we are catching more activity . . . . The earth is dynamic, it is moving, the plates are moving, and now and then they trip, they bounce together and they shake.”

Corriette revealed that 36 persons were undergoing community emergency response team (CERT) training at the ODM’s location in Jimmit.

The CERT training is an all-risk, all-hazard training programme designed to help individuals protect themselves, family, neighbours and neighbourhoods in emergency situations.

IMAGE: ODM coordinator Don Corriette

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