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US/Mexico Earthquake Monitoring Leads to Safer Communities
Released: 10/19/2011 2:00:00 PM

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communications and Publishing
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr, MS 119
Reston, VA 20192
Leslie Gordon, USGS 1-click interview
Phone: (650) 793-1534

Diana Escalante, Ministry of the Interior, Mexico
Phone: (5255) 5128-0182 ext.11724

Tomás Sánchez, CENAPRED, Mexico
Phone: (5255) 5424-6110

In partnership with: USNORTHCOM, CENAPRED

Additional Contact:  John Cornelio, USNORTHCOM, (719) 554-9618, John.Cornelio@northcom.mil

PASADENA, Calif. — The United States and Mexico are working together to improve seismic monitoring south of the U.S./Mexican border. International scientific cooperation will save lives and reduce property losses from earthquakes. Working together will increase the resilience of communities in both nations.

At the request of the Mexican National Center for Prevention of Disasters (CENAPRED, Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres) of the Ministry of the Interior, the U.S. Northern Command and scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey are providing instruments and training to reinforce the Mexican seismic networks in the region enhancing the measurement of seismic activity in the earthquake-prone zone in northwestern Mexico. This investment is complementary to the financial efforts being undertaken by the Mexican Government.

During the April 4, 2010 magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Baja California, CENAPRED relied on the available seismic information provided by USGS. The lack of immediate strong-motion data necessary to evaluate the intensity of the ground shaking, prevented Mexican authorities from assessing the impact of the quake and its affects on the people and infrastructure as rapidly as possible.

"Earthquake faults don't stop at international borders and neither should science. The scientific collaboration between the U.S. and Mexico results in a better understanding of the seismic hazard affecting both nations. This scientific understanding helps protect lives and property on both sides of the border," said Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary for Water & Science of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

After the 2010 quake, USGS scientists toured the earthquake epicenter area, took measurements, and recommended that Mexican-owned seismometers, if installed in Baja California, would provide both U.S. and Mexican federal, state, and local authorities more accurate and timely information during future quakes. Real-time data provided from these devices installed in Mexico will be used to protect lives and property in both northern Baja California and southern California.

"U.S. Northern Command is partnering with a number of U.S. Government agencies to enhance disaster preparedness and response capabilities of Mexican civil and military authorities. With this initiative, U.S. Northern Command is collaborating with USGS to improve seismic monitoring in Baja California. This network complements a number of other projects funded by U.S. Northern Command to enhance the Mexican first responder capabilities with training and equipping projects," said Robert Mackay, Chief of the Interagency Coordination Directorate, Humanitarian Assistance Branch of US NORTHCOM.

Susan Reinert, Chief of the U.S. Consulate General’s Political/Economic Section in Tijuana, noted, "The U.S. Government has long acknowledged the need for our two countries to work together to enhance disaster preparedness, especially in the border region where a sizeable earthquake certainly would impact both of our peoples with repercussions far beyond the border.  This effort, between the U.S. Geological Survey and Mexico's National Disaster Prevention Center, with the support of the U.S. Northern Command, to improve seismic monitoring in Baja California, is emblematic of deep cross-border ties and a spirit of cooperation to achieve an enhanced quality of life."

 "Earthquakes in Mexico are a threat to the U.S. and visa versa. It's only by cooperating in our monitoring efforts that both countries can fully understand and protect against their earthquake risk," said Doug Given, the USGS Southern California Seismic Network coordinator, and the USGS lead for this international project.

"Earthquakes, as well as other natural phenomena, don't respect borderlines. Cooperative efforts and joint investments between Mexico and the U.S. to enhance regional networks and share information about natural hazards, will certainly lead to better understand them, but most importantly, will allow us to better prepare our communities to withstand events which, like earthquakes, fortunately don´t occur very often, but when they happen, could produce important life and economic losses. Scientific research, risk assessment, mitigation and preparedness are key factors to live sustainably and in harmony with these natural hazards. This joint seismic observation project in Baja California should be an example for many others to come, as it is aimed to reinforce these factors, thereby enhancing our good neighborhood. Mexico, through CENAPRED, is very thankful for receiving this support from the United States people and Government through the U.S. Northern Command. We are committed to successfully accomplish its purpose as best and as soon as possible", said Roberto Quaas, the Director General of the Mexican National Center for Disaster Prevention.

The project will involve the purchase and installation of seismometers, accelerometers and a computer network valued at approximately $250,000 and training valued at approximately $250,000. The system will be operated by the Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education of Ensenada (CISESE, Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada, Baja California) and will be part of the Mexican Seismic Network (Red Sísmica Mexicana). Instruments will be installed as soon as possible, and training for Mexican seismologists will begin shortly. It is expected that the newly-expanded southern California - Baja California seismic network will be operational next year.

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