UWI Seismic Research Centre receives funding to strengthen earthquake monitoring

The UWI Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC) has embarked on a project to install instruments which will improve understanding of the effects of strong earthquakes in the region.

Funded by the Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), twelve instruments are being installed as part of a regional project which aims to establish a core network of strong motion instruments in the Eastern Caribbean and Jamaica.

The UWI-SRC operates the largest seismograph network in the Caribbean which provides information on the location, depth and magnitude of earthquakes. Strong motion networks, however, take earthquake monitoring a step further by providing information on how intensely the ground may shake within a particular geographic area for earthquakes above a certain magnitude. This information can then be used by engineers to design or retrofit buildings to withstand earthquakes within these same communities.

“There is no doubt that the region is vulnerable to earthquakes,” stated Mr. Lloyd Lynch, UWI-SRC Instrumentation Engineer and Principal Investigator on the project. “This strong motion network will provide greater understanding of how the ground responds to strong earthquakes and this information can then be used to create appropriate building codes and land use policies – measures that will reduce the effects of earthquakes in the region,” added Lynch.

Typically, strong motion instruments are deployed in urban areas which may be at greater risk because of higher concentrations of people and the location of important structures such as hospitals, major commercial buildings and government offices.

The project has already rolled out in several islands with installations in Barbados, St. Kitts Nevis and Carriacou. The Earthquake Unit has completed installations in Jamaica and installations are currently underway in Dominica. Upcoming installations include St. Vincent, Grenada, Saint Lucia and Antigua Barbuda.

Similar networks have been established in other parts of the world including Central America, Venezuela and the French West Indies. Prior to the project there were a limited number of strong motion instruments in the region. These together with the CCRIF-funded instruments, will build on the foundation of a network envisaged to ultimately 100 strong motion instruments extending throughout the Eastern Caribbean and Jamaica.