Nav: Home

How large can a tsunami be in the Caribbean?

May 16, 2018

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami has researchers reevaluating whether a magnitude 9.0 megathrust earthquake and resulting tsunami might also be a likely risk for the Caribbean region, seismologists reported at the SSA 2018 Annual Meeting.

"Before 2004, we thought an earthquake of about 8.0 was about right for the largest we might see in the Caribbean, based on the history of earthquakes there and the length and motion of the faults," said Christa von Hillebrandt-Andrade of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

"But now some think that several faults in the region could be capable of producing earthquakes of 8.6, and the catastrophic planning by our emergency management community is considering 8.5 and 9.0 earthquakes," she noted.

"It's been a long time since a big earthquake and tsunami have hit the region, but almost 3500 people have lost their lives in the past 500 years from tsunamis in the Caribbean," said von Hillebrandt-Andrade. "The vulnerability is just huge because so much of our population and infrastructure is located right along the coast."

The region contains several large subduction zones and faults, most of which are located offshore and are challenging to study. One particular focus is the subduction zone associated with the Puerto Rico Trench, located north of Puerto Rico and roughly on the border of the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. A large earthquake on the Trench could produce a tsunami that reaches Puerto Rico within 20 minutes, and might be felt as far away as the U.S. Eastern seaboard.

There is no historical evidence of any megathrust 9.0 earthquakes taking place on the trench, and the fault there has "a bit of oblique motion that takes up some of the energy and doesn't create the big offset of the seafloor creating the tsunami" that would be expected from a straightforward subduction zone, von Hillebrandt-Andrade said.

Another concern is a tsunami generated by submarine landslides that might occur after a more moderate-sized earthquake, she noted, adding that researchers have uncovered traces of very large landslides along the steep parts of the seafloor along the trench.

Other regions that seismologists are keeping a closer eye on include the Lesser Antilles, the Dominican Republic, and the area offshore north of Panama.

von Hillebrandt-Andrade said emergency management planners often work with "scenarios"--how a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami would impact a region--instead of focusing on the probabilities of a certain-level tsunami taking place within a specified time range. As seismologists continue to work out the recurrence rate of earthquakes in the region, von Hillebrandt-Andrade said researchers also are beginning to look at probabilistic tsunami hazards, beginning in the American Caribbean.

"It would really be helpful to have more ocean bottom seismology," she said, "where we can place seismometers on the seafloor close to these faults so that we can appreciate more of their movement, and to extrapolate [motion] from smaller earthquakes."

More Caribbean paleoseismology--Identifying and analyzing the evidence of past earthquakes--would also help researchers pinpoint the recurrence times of possible large earthquakes, von Hillebrandt-Andrade said.

Since 2005, 48 countries and territories organized under the UNESCO IOC Intergovernmental Coordination Group for Tsunamis and Other Coastal Hazards for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions have been developing a tsunami warning system. Tsunami response exercises, such as the annual CARIBE Wave draw on seismic hazard research findings to guide their practice scenarios.

"There is a big challenge in dealing with such an infrequent hazard, which can be forgotten or overlooked because people can be concerned with more immediate-type events like annual hurricane season," von Hillebrandt-Andrade said. "But tsunamis have the potential of killing so many people if we do not respond appropriately."

The 2018 Annual Meeting, held May 14-17 in Miami, Florida, is a joint conference between the Seismological Society of America and the Latin American and Caribbean Seismological Commission (LACSC).
-end-


Seismological Society of America

Related Earthquake Articles:

From where will the next big earthquake hit the city of Istanbul?
Scientists reckon with an earthquake with a magnitude of 7 or greater in this region in the coming years.
Dissection of the 2015 Bonin deep earthquake
Researchers at Tohoku University's Department of Geophysics, have been studying the deep earthquake which occurred on May 30, 2015, to the west of Japan's Bonin Islands.
The search for the earthquake nucleus
Where a tectonic plate dives under another, in the so-called subduction zones at ocean margins, many strong earthquakes occur.
Better understanding post-earthquake fault movement
Preparation and good timing enabled Gareth Funning and a team of researchers to collect a unique data set following the 2014 South Napa earthquake that showed different parts of the fault, sometimes only a few kilometers apart, moved at different speeds and at different times.
The maximum earthquake magnitude for North Turkey
The Istanbul metropolitan region faces a high probability for a large earthquake in the near future.
Double dose of bad earthquake news
A team of researchers, including one from the University of California, Riverside, has discovered that earthquake ruptures can jump much further than previously thought, a finding that could have severe implications on the Los Angeles area and other regions in the world.
Discovery of hidden earthquake presents challenge to earthquake early-warning systems
Seismologists at the University of Liverpool studying the 2011 Chile earthquake have discovered a previously undetected earthquake which took place seconds after the initial rupture.
Babe Ruth and earthquake hazard maps
Northwestern University researchers have turned to an unusual source -- Major League Baseball -- to help learn why maps used to predict shaking in future earthquakes often do poorly.
Earthquake rupture halted by seamounts
Experts expected for some time that one of the next mega earthquakes occurs off northern Chile.
Catastrophic landslides post-earthquake
In the last few months, it has once more become clear that large earthquakes can solicit catastrophic landsliding.

Related Earthquake Reading:

Earthquakes (True Books: Earth Science (Paperback))
by Ker Than (Author)

- Clean new design for easy readability and comprehension
- Updated text presented in a lively, continuous narrative
- New center-spread sidebar feature presenting material in a fun, creative way
- Excellent age-appropriate introduction to curriculum-relevant subjects
- Important Words glossary clarifies subject-specific vocabulary
- Resources section encourages independent study
- Index makes navigating subject matter easy View Details


Earthquakes (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2)
by Dr. Franklyn M. Branley (Author), Megan Lloyd (Illustrator)

Read and find out about one of nature’s most mysterious forces—the earthquake. Some earthquakes are so small that you don’t even feel them, while others can make even big buildings shake! Learn why earthquakes happen, where they are most likely to occur, and what to do if one happens near you.

Now rebranded with a new cover look and with updated text and art, this classic picture book describes the causes and effects of earthquakes (including a tsunami). This book features rich vocabulary and fascinating cross-sections of mountains, volcanoes, and faults in the earth’s moving... View Details


Earthquakes
by Seymour Simon (Author)

Seymour Simon knows how to explain science to kids and make it fun. He was a teacher for over twenty years, has written more than 250 books, and has won multiple awards. In Earthquakes, Simon introduces elementary-school readers to earthquakes through engaging descriptions and stunning full-color photographs. He teaches readers why and how earthquakes happen and the damage they can cause through pictures, diagrams, and maps. He also gives real life examples of earthquakes that have occurred all over the world. This book includes a glossary and index.

Supports the Common Core... View Details


I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 (I Survived #5)
by Lauren Tarshis (Author), Scott Dawson (Illustrator)

Ten-year-old Leo loves being a newsboy in San Francisco -- not only does he get to make some money to help his family, he's free to explore the amazing, hilly city as it changes and grows with the new century. Horse-drawn carriages share the streets with shiny new automobiles, new businesses and families move in every day from everywhere, and anything seems possible.

But early one spring morning, everything changes. Leo's world is shaken -- literally -- and he finds himself stranded in the middle of San Francisco as it crumbles and burns to the ground. Does Leo have what it takes to... View Details


The Great Quake: How the Biggest Earthquake in North America Changed Our Understanding of the Planet
by Henry Fountain (Author)

New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

In the bestselling tradition of Erik Larson’s Isaac’s Storm, The Great Quake is a riveting narrative about the biggest earthquake in North American recorded history -- the 1964 Alaska earthquake that demolished the city of Valdez and swept away the island village of Chenega -- and the geologist who hunted for clues to explain how and why it took place.

At 5:36 p.m. on March 27, 1964, a magnitude 9.2. earthquake – the second most powerful in world history – struck the young state of Alaska. The... View Details


Human Earthquake: Book I
by Ramon Darnell (Author)

What is it for a man to gain the world but lose his soul? I feel compelled to share my story which allows me to be a living example and talk about the good, the bad and the beautiful journey that I have taken. Take this voyage with me and witness the scientific and strategic development of a Mack, who rose to the top in the violent streets of the south side of Chicago. Human Earthquake will expose the inside track on the street game which lead me to evolve into a King, in my world that allowed me to conquer at will. This is a fascinating three-part epic, a must read. So,... View Details


Earthquake in the Early Morning (Magic Tree House #24) (Magic Tree House (R))
by Mary Pope Osborne (Author), Sal Murdocca (Illustrator)

The #1 bestselling chapter book series of all time celebrates 25 years with new covers and a new, easy-to-use numbering system!

An adventure that will shake you up! That's what Jack and Annie get when the Magic Tree House whisks them back to California in 1906. As soon as they arrive, the famous San Francisco earthquake hits the city. Can Jack and Annie save the day? Or will San Francisco be destroyed first?

Did you know that there’s a Magic Tree House book for every kid?

Magic Tree House: Adventures with Jack and Annie, perfect for readers who are just beginning... View Details


National Geographic Kids Everything Volcanoes and Earthquakes: Earthshaking photos, facts, and fun!
by Kathy Furgang (Author)

National Geographic Kids Everything Volcanoes and Earthquakes explodes with incredible photos and amazing facts about the awesome powers of nature. You'll find out that three-quarters of Earth's volcanoes are underwater, that an earthquake in Chile shortened the day by 1.26 milliseconds, and much more. Bursting with fascinating information about the biggest volcanic eruptions and earth-shattering earthquakes, this book takes a fun approach to science, introducing kids to plate tectonics and the tumultuous forces brewing beneath the Earth's surface. Filled with fabulous photos and... View Details


Quakeland: On the Road to America's Next Devastating Earthquake
by Kathryn Miles (Author)

A journey around the United States in search of the truth about the threat of earthquakes leads to spine-tingling discoveries, unnerving experts, and ultimately the kind of preparations that will actually help guide us through disasters. It’s a road trip full of surprises.
 
Earthquakes. You need to worry about them only if you’re in San Francisco, right? Wrong. We have been making enormous changes to subterranean America, and Mother Earth, as always, has been making some of her own. . . . The consequences for our real estate, our civil engineering, and our... View Details


Earthquakes! (TIME FOR KIDS® Nonfiction Readers)
by Teacher Created Materials (Author)

Early elementary readers find out what causes earthquakes and what to do to stay safe if one occurs in this helpful nonfiction reader. Featuring informational text, colorful maps, diagrams, and vibrant photos, this book keeps children engaged and fascinated at the same time!

About Shell Education
Rachelle Cracchiolo started the company with a friend and fellow teacher. Both were eager to share their ideas and passion for education with other classroom leaders. What began as a hobby, selling lesson plans to local stores, became a part-time job after a full day of teaching,... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Attention Please
In an age of constant information and infinite distractions, how can we pay more attention to our ... attention? This hour, TED speakers explore the battle for our awareness during the digital age. Guests include sociologist Zeynep Tufekci, podcast host Manoush Zomorodi, neuroscientist Amishi Jha, designer Tristan Harris, and computer scientist Jaron Lanier.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#475 Mother Nature is Trying to Kill You (Rebroadcast)
This week, we're learning how deadly and delightful our planet and its ecosystem can be. We're joined by biologist Dan Riskin, co-host of Discovery Canada's Daily Planet, to talk about his book "Mother Nature Is Trying to Kill You: a Lively Tour Through the Dark Side of the Natural World." And we'll talk to astronomer and author Phil Plait about Science Getaways, his company that offers educational vacation experiences for science lovers.