eismic monitoring agencies share data

St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago W.I.—March 13th, 2008 – Seismic monitoring agencies in the Caribbean Basin have agreed, in principle, to share and contribute data to a regional warning centre, a critical step towards making a regional tsunami warning system (TWS) a reality. The decision was an important outcome of the 2nd meeting of Regional Seismic Network Operators (RSNO2) recently held on the University of the West Indies’ St. Augustine campus in Trinidad. Funded by the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and coordinated by the Seismic Research Unit, RSNO2 brought together eighteen participants from thirteen seismic monitoring agencies in the Caribbean, Central and South America.

Important recommendations emerging from the meeting included the need for National Governments to ensure that existing seismological networks are provided with resources required for sustainability. Participants also agreed that a Caribbean Tsunami Warning Centre (CTWC) is needed to support local and national tsunami focal points that have been established in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami (2004). They further agreed that a CTWC should be identified at the meeting of the Intergovernmental Coordinating Group (ICG-CARIBE-EWS) being held in Panama this week. Five monitoring agencies were considered possible candidates for the CTWC inclusive of the Seismic Research Unit.

The Caribbean Basin has an extensive network of seismic monitoring agencies which have varying capacities, and areas of responsibility. These agencies currently provide seismological services that altogether cover the entire region. Adequate coordination and collaboration among these agencies are essential for an efficient TWS.

The capacity for data sharing has markedly increased since the 1st RSNO meeting in 2006 largely due to an increase in training and use of common protocols and technology amongst seismological organisations in the Caribbean Basin.

Following the Indian Ocean Tsunami in December 2004, scientists, disaster planners and other stakeholders in the Caribbean Basin have been working towards the establishment of a TWS under the coordination of the Intergovernmental Oceanic Committee (IOC) of the United Nations. The Seismic Research Unit monitors earthquakes and volcanoes in most of the English-speaking Eastern Caribbean islands and has been involved in this project from its inception.