While the accurate prediction of major seismic events is still a long way off, the increasing coverage provided by continually operating GPS reference stations, together with improvements in GPS data analyses are providing not only an unprecedented scientific research tool for the study of regional tectonics, but also an effective methodology for improving the estimates of seismic hazards.
Regional researchers from the University of the West Indies (UWI), as well as colleagues from outside the region, have been reporting improved estimates of these hazards. Margaret Grandison (UWI, Earthquake Unit) in association
with the University of Texas did a detailed study seismic activity in the region and in 2008 predicted that an earthquake of 7.2 magnitude would hit Port‐au‐Prince, Haiti and /or Kingston, Jamaica.
See paper at http://www.ig.utexas.edu/jsg/18_cgg/Mann3.htm
Through the use of GPS technology‐assisted research, they were able to accurately predict the earthquake that hit Haiti. Research found that there was an accumulation of ~2meters of strain deficit accumulating since the last major event. According to the researchers, this would be the equivalent of “a Mw=7.2 earthquake if all was released in a single event today. The two largest cities within 30 km of the fault zone are Port‐au‐Prince, Haiti, and Kingston, Jamaica…”
The recent events in Haiti remind us of the critical importance of continuing research work. The map of the Gonave microplate boldly indicates the high risk areas that should be monitored closely as any shifts can directly
impacts lives from the Cayman Islands to Santo Domingo in Dominica Republic and from Port‐au‐Prince, Haiti to Kingston and Montego Bay, Jamaica.