CCRIF Partners with Seismic Research Center for Quake, Volcano Risk

November 13, 2012

The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) and the Seismic Research Centre (SRC) of The University of the West Indies have entered into a partnership to enhance the Accelerometric Network in the Eastern Caribbean and Jamaica in order to strengthen the evaluation and mitigation of seismic risk across the region.

The two organizations signed a Memorandum of Understanding in April and have “entered into a cooperative agreement to implement this two-year project which will cost $235,000 – with $120,000 provided by CCRIF and the remainder provided by SRC,” said the announcement.

The Center is located at The University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine campus in Trinidad & Tobago. The SRC is in the forefront in the Eastern Caribbean for monitoring earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis. It is responsible for disseminating information to reduce risk, deaths, injuries, property damage and economic loss due to these hazards.

The bulletin said the “partnership with CCRIF will take advantage of the Facility’s experience and services in active financial risk management of natural catastrophes in the region. Activities to be undertaken under this partnership will be implemented by the SRC in collaboration with the Earthquake Unit at the UWI Mona campus in Jamaica.

“Currently there are more than 50 seismic stations in the entire SRC network. Under this partnership there will be the installation of twelve additional strong motion instruments in seven countries (Grenada, Barbados, Saint Lucia, Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda, St Kitts & Nevis, and Jamaica) to extend the existing accelerometer network in the Caribbean, some components of which are part of regional tsunami surveillance efforts.

“These new instrument stations will increase regional coverage and focus on ‘hot spots’ in the Eastern Caribbean and Jamaica. Additionally, these strong motion instruments will complement the SRC’s existing weak motion network, which has grown from the first stations installed in the 1950s to its current level, used to gather data to help understand spatial and temporal characteristics of earthquakes.

“Strong motion data are used to undertake more in-depth analysis to inform earthquake hazard assessments. This analysis can be used to determine areas at risk and to inform disaster preparedness decision making.”

The bulletin also explained that the partnership would be focused “on building the data and knowledge bases in the region and on disseminating data to professionals in the disaster management, construction and engineering communities throughout the region. A key activity will be the production of an annual catalogue in digital format of the data collected by the network, which will be made available through the SRC website.”

Dr. Joan Latchman, Acting Director of the SRC, indicated that she believes the “initiative will enable the Seismic Research Centre to improve the level of monitoring and therefore to improve the quality of the advice and information provided to regional governments regarding emergency response, public safety and loss mitigation.”

The announcement also noted that “while hurricanes are a well-known and dangerous threat to the Caribbean, this project is invaluable to the region since these countries are also vulnerable to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.

“The Eastern Caribbean is a seismically active area with hundreds of earthquakes occurring in and around the region each year – although not all of these earthquakes are felt. In Jamaica there is a well-known history of destructive earthquakes with about 200 earthquakes located in and around the island per year. No island in the region is completely free from the threat of earthquakes.”

Milo Pearson, Executive Chairman of CCRIF, stated that the partnership between the SRC and CCRIF fully supports CCRIF’s goal to promote capacity development for natural catastrophe risk management in the region and indicated that it “will build knowledge within The University of the West Indies – and by extension the Caribbean – with respect to seismic risk and vulnerability, thus contributing to reducing the impact of earthquakes.”

Sources: Seismic Research Centre and Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility

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