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The governments of Jamaica and the United States have signed a statement of intent for the establishment of a state-of-the-art seismograph station at Pike, Manchester, which is one of nine to be set up throughout the Caribbean.
Minister of Land and Environment, Dean Peart and United States Ambassador Brenda Johnson, signed the relevant documents this morning at the Ministry’s Half-Way-Tree Road offices in Kingston.
Members of the Jamaica Defence Force are expected to begin work on the US$200,000 facility by April, which will aid in the early detection of tsunamis.
“We have identified the location, we have identified workers and the equipment to be cleared and we have spoken to the relevant custom personnel so as not to have any problems when the equipment gets here,” said Minister Peart.
He said that the signing was timely, as it coincided with Earthquake Awareness Week from January 8 to 13, and was in response to the tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean in December of 2004.
Meanwhile, head of the Earthquake Unit, Dr. Margaret Grandison informed that aside from Jamaica, high-quality state of the art seismograph stations with attendant redundancies in power and communication would be placed in Antigua, Barbados, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago and the Turks and Caicos Islands. “These will complement an already existing network of such stations known as the Global Seismograph Network,” she outlined.
Data from the stations will transmit data in real time via satellite to the National Earthquake Information Centre of the United States Geological Survey (USGS), from where it will undergo automatic data processing to determine if the parameters of the event suggest the generation of a tsunami.
Dr. Grandison further informed that if there were detections of a tsunami, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US would be informed simultaneously, and would then deploy five Deep Ocean Assessment and Reporting (DART II) stations to check for ocean going waves.
In her remarks, Ambassador Johnson noted that today’s signing was the first step towards the implementation of a Caribbean Tsunami Early Warning System, which would bolster earthquake monitoring and tsunami wave detection in the Americas.
In December 2004, a catastrophic tsunami earthquake wreaked havoc in South Asia killing some 230,000 people.