UWI warns of long overdue regional earthquake

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A bed is covered in rubble caused by a magnitude 5.9 earthquake the night before, in Gros Morne, Haiti, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. (Photo: AP)

(SNO) — The UWI Seismic Research Centre, as well as the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), is warning that Saint Lucia, and the rest of the region, should brace for a major earthquake which it said is long overdue.

Speaking to journalists in Saint Lucia earlier this week at the launch of Earth Science Week, the Seismic Research Centre’s Patricia Joseph, who is responsible for geochemical monitoring of the geothermal systems in the Lesser Antilles, said based on patterns, there is a major earthquake of a magnitude of 8 every 100 years in the region.

“We know this particularly for Trinidad because we always speak of that size of event in Trinidad but it is true of the region where there is a certain number of years that we expect a certain magnitude of earthquake,” she said.

Joseph said that there have been no major regional earthquakes within recent times.

“That’s why we keep saying that we should be prepared for that size of it, a larger magnitude earthquake happening in the region,” she stated.

She said a large magnitude earthquake can be very disruptive and people have to learn how to react when it takes place.

“We promote the practice of duck, cover and hold on,” she explained. “Now we are not always in a position where you can exit a building safely because you are not close to an exit but when you feel an earthquake the best thing is to find a sturdy structure that is nearby whether it is a table or desk, a chair. You cover your head, like in a brace position, similar to what you would do in an aircraft, and you hold on to that structure so you can give yourself a bit of stability.”

Meanwhile NEMO director, Velda Joseph said many people say that earthquakes cannot be predicted and hence one cannot prepare for them but there are a number of things that can be done.

She added that some of these things will be discussed during the course of Earth Science Week.

“In terms of how you build, where you build, in terms of the arrangements within your home, all of that have implications for the extent of damage of earthquakes,” she stated. “What are the implications of where you are? Do you drop, cover hold? There is this issue going around about the triangle of life. Is that legitimate? These are the questions that we are going to be discussing with the team from the Seismic Research Center.”

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