Home Archived February 20, 2019

Link to USGS home page
125 years of science for America 1879-2004
Sound Waves Monthly Newsletter - Coastal Science and Research News from Across the USGS
Home || Sections: Spotlight on Sandy | Fieldwork | Research | Outreach | Meetings | Awards | Staff & Center News | Publications || Archives


Workshop Addresses Tsunami Hazard to Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Other Caribbean Islands

in this issue:
 previous story | next story

A Caribbean Tsunami Hazard workshop was convened on March 30-31, 2004, by the National Science Foundation in cooperation with the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, and the Sea Grant Program at the University of Puerto Rico.

The primary objective of the workshop was to characterize and quantify the multiple tsunami-generation sources in the Caribbean region, which include local and remote earthquakes, submarine and subaerial slope failures, and volcanic eruptions. Another objective was to summarize warning, mitigation, and public-education efforts in the Caribbean and to learn from similar efforts in the Pacific.

Tsunami hazard, warning, and mitigation is an interdisciplinary topic involving marine geologists, seismologists, hydrodynamic modelers, emergency warning and management personnel, city planners, and educators. The 38 participants of the workshop came from diverse organizations, including State and Federal governments, academia, private consulting firms, and foreign universities. The USGS was represented by Carol Prentice and Judy Zachariasen from the Earthquake Hazards Program (EHP) and Uri ten Brink from the Coastal and Marine Geology Program (CMGP).

Views of the sea floor 50 km north of San Juan, Puerto Rico, showing submarine slope failures, debris toes, and cracks.
Above: Views of the sea floor 50 km north of San Juan, Puerto Rico, showing submarine slope failures, debris toes, and cracks. The bathymetry was collected by using SeaBeam 2112 aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ship Ronald H. Brown, with funding from the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration.
A, Oblique view of the area north of Puerto Rico showing slope failures, debris toes (dashed lines), and cracks in the sea floor (black arrows). White arrows denote the boundary between our newly acquired high-resolution bathymetry data and older, lower-resolution data compiled from various sources.
B, Colored bathymetric map of area within and east of black polygon in the oblique view. Shallowest sea floor is red; deepest is violet-blue. The crack (labeled) is several hundred meters wide, 150 m deep, and 15 km long. Outline on right (labeled "1") delineates a slope failure covering a 360-km2 area (solid white line) with a 35-km-long debris field (dashed black line, 1a). Outline on left (2) shows the maximum expected area of slope failure should the crack open completely. Dashed line at lower right (3) shows toe of a debris field that has been largely covered by the younger debris field (1a).
[larger version]

Uri ten Brink presented an analysis of recently acquired high-resolution sea-floor morphology, which shows active slumping along the north shore of Puerto Rico. Preliminary modeling of one of the submarine slides, carried out by Eric Geist (CMGP), indicates a maximum wave runup of 20 meters near Arecibo, Puerto Rico. The participants agreed on the need for further studies of the following topics:

  • assessment of the sea-floor morphology and geology in areas prone to earthquakes and slumps;
  • differentiation between hurricane and tsunami deposits—in particular, quantitative estimates of the forces required to pick up and move boulders and large rocks;
  • the potential effect of tsunami waves on coastal infrastructure, ports, and cruise ships; and
  • additional paleotsunami studies around the Caribbean, preferably with absolute dating of the deposits.
(The tsunami deposits indicate many more tsunamis than were historically accounted for in eyewitness accounts by the Spaniards in the Caribbean Islands.)

Additional workshop recommendations included

  • the need to have the U.S. National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program include U.S. citizens in the Caribbean,
  • the need to promote and provide funding for the collection of bathymetric and topographic data around the various nations in the Caribbean region,
  • the need to export the tsunami-hazard-quantification work in Puerto Rico to the rest of the Caribbean, and
  • the need for high-frequency sampling and real-time transmission of sea-level data as part of a tsunami-warning system.

A proceedings volume summarizing many of the contributions to the meeting is currently being prepared.

Related Sound Waves Stories
Mapping of the Puerto Rico Trench, the Deepest Part of the Atlantic, is Nearing Completion
October 2003
Group Aims to Distinguish Tsunami Deposits from Large-Storm Deposits in the Geologic Record
October 2002

Related Web Sites
Earthquakes and Tsunamis in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Tsunamis and Earthquakes
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
NSF Caribbean Tsunami Workshop
National Science Foundation

in this issue:
 previous story | next story


Mailing List:

print this issue print this issue

in this issue: Fieldwork
cover story:
Benthic Habitats in Glacier Bay

North Carolina Submarine Groundwater

Research Mucus-Hosted Microbial Communities

Gulf of Maine Mapping Initiative

Forensic Geology Assists Investigation

Submarine Groundwater Discharge

USGS Participates in Marine Quest X

Caribbean Tsunami Hazard Workshop

USGS wins Blue Pencil, Gold Screen Awards

June Publications List

FirstGov.gov U. S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Sound Waves Monthly Newsletter

email Feedback | USGS privacy statement | Disclaimer | Accessibility

This page is http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/2004/06/meetings.html
Updated December 02, 2016 @ 12:09 PM (JSS)