#Jamaica, January 9, 2018 – Kingston – Ninety-two earthquakes were recorded in Jamaica in 2017. Scientific Officer at the Earthquake Unit at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Karleen Black, made the disclosure at the Earthquake Awareness Week launch on Monday (January 8) at the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) on Haining Road, St. Andrew.
She said “felt earthquake reports” were received for eight events with magnitudes ranging from 3.1 to 3.6. Two of these were in St. Elizabeth, two in Portland, one in Manchester, one in St. Mary and the other two were offshore, with one in the region of Cuba and the other in the Pedro Banks. Ms. Black informed that an additional 33 events were detected locally, but these were later classified as possible explosions.
In total, the seismograph network, which is comprised of 12 stations across the island, detected and recorded 279 tremors occurring locally and regionally. Seventy-five were near earthquakes and 79 were distant earthquakes coming from areas such as South America and other parts of the globe, she indicated.
Meanwhile, Ms. Black noted that a damaging earthquake can occur anytime, day or night “so the onus is on us to be in a constant state of readiness if we are to safely navigate the effects of a major earthquake.” She said that for this year, the Earthquake Unit will work towards upgrading its seismograph network in order to improve its capabilities.
“As such, we hope to add a new (seismic) station to our complement of 12, making it 13. The unit will also be benefiting from an upcoming Jamaica Social Investment Fund Project (JSIF), which is sponsored by the World Bank, as part of its disaster reduction efforts,” she pointed out.
Under JSIF’s Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project (DVRP), 10 digital seismometer systems will be placed at seismic stations across the island to give data on an earthquake’s magnitude, depth and epicentre on land and offshore.
Earthquake Awareness Week is being observed from January 7-13 under the theme ‘Preparing for the Quake Helps Reduce Damage After the Shakes’. While Jamaica has experienced several tremors, the last major event was the great Kingston earthquake of 1907, which caused more than 1,000 deaths, damaged numerous buildings and started several fires.
The 1692 Port Royal quake was perhaps the largest and most damaging, with about 5,000 deaths from the quake itself and the subsequent outbreak of yellow fever. A section of the town sank into the sea.