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Frequency of earthquakes in Jamaica does not indicate global increase, says ODPEM

Monday, October 22, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) Major Clive Davis says that despite the frequency with which Jamaica and the region have been experiencing earthquakes over the past two months, it is not an indication of an increase in the occurrence of earthquakes on a global scale.

Major Davis' statement came after Jamaica experienced a fourth earthquake in a seven-week period on Sunday. The minor 3.0 magnitude earthquake was centred 10 kilometres west of Moore Town, Portland, according to the Earthquake Unit at the University of the West Indies.

“We understand and acknowledge the concerns and anxieties being expressed by the populous at this time,” the ODPEM director said, noting however that, research has shown that Jamaica experiences an average of 200 earthquakes each year, most of which are usually small and may not even be felt by humans.

“It is however believed that our awareness of the last few events may have been heightened as they occurred on the weekend and was also carried widely by traditional and 'new' media.

“This in and of itself, has the advantage of increasing awareness and hopefully that of our preparedness. On the other had if this information is not provided in context and with the necessary scientific support, it could unfortunately, increase anxiety,” Major Davis added.

Meanwhile, the director general asked Jamaicans to put preparedness measures in place.

These, he said, include the identification and securing of items in your facility which, in an earthquake, could fall or topple and result in blockage of exit paths or cause injury. As well as plan and rehearse response strategies if such a disaster strikes.

The island was rocked by a 5.2 magnitude quake on September 3 which hit offshore, approximately 150km West of Negril, Westmoreland and was felt in Kingston and St Andrew.

While, on September 16, what the Earthquake Unit described as a "light" 4.6 magnitude quake, shook sections of the Corporate Area and St Catherine.

Then, on Sunday, October 7, the island was struck by a third temblor, six hours after northern Haiti was rocked by a 5.2 magnitude aftershock, which followed a powerful 5.9 magnitude earthquake the night before that left over a dozen people dead.

At the same time, the Seismic Research Centre at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine campus reported yesterday that the twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago was struck by a magnitude of 5.1 quake.

This follows a major 7.3 magnitude quake that rocked the oil-rich country causing widespread damage on August 21.

Over in Barbados, that country recorded a 4.2 magnitude quake on Saturday.

Major Davis, in his statement this morning, noted that despite advances in seismology it is still not possible (in the true sense) to predict the occurrence an earthquake.

“Earthquakes have no season and are neither weather related nor having relationship to the concepts of climate change. It is instead a normally occurring phenomenon of life on planet Earth,” he said.

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