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Scientists Return to Haiti to Assess Possibility of Another Major Quake - Windows to the Universe

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In a pre-earthquake photo, a GPS receiver and antenna sit atop a roof in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Click on image for full size
Image Courtesy of Purdue University/Eric Calais

Scientists Return to Haiti to Assess Possibility of Another Major Quake
News story originally written on January 25, 2010

A team of scientists from the United States was invited to visit Haiti in late January 2010 to look into the cause of the magnitude 7 earthquake that happened there. While there, the geologists will collect important data to assess whether the quake could trigger another major event to the east or west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital.

Eric Calais, a Purdue University geophysicist leading the team, said that most aftershocks occur within weeks of the initial quake and that the team urgently needs to get to the site to make a detailed assessment before crucial geological information disappears.

"The big question is instead of small aftershocks, could there be a bigger earthquake coming," Calais said. "There are many historical examples of an initial earthquake triggering an even larger one along the same or nearby faults. We are concerned for the Dominican Republic, as our preliminary models show that the continuation of the fault in this area is loaded." The Haitian government is interested in knowing what the scientists learn; they would like to use this information when they start rebuilding in Haiti.

This research team has been studying the faults in this area for five years using GPS markers that determine what is happening to faults underground. In their upcoming research they will find and map the area of the fault that ruptured, resurvey the existing GPS markers, and install 10 new continuous GPS sites to monitor the changes that will occur in the years to come as Earth's crust readjusts.

Last modified February 26, 2010 by Becca Hatheway.

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