Quantifying 10 years of Improvements in Earthquake and Tsunami Monitoring in the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions

Monday, 15 December 2014
Christa von Hillebrandt-Andrade, National Weather Service NOAA, Caribbean Tsunami Warning Program, Mayaguez, PR, United States, Victor A Huerfano Moreno, Puerto Rico Seismic Network, Dept. Geology - UPRM, Mayaguez, PR, United States, Daniel E McNamara, USGS National Earthquake Information Center Golden, Golden, CO, United States and Jean Marie Saurel, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, Observatoire Volcanologique et Sismologique de Martinique, Paris, France
The magnitude-9.3 Sumatra-Andaman Islands earthquake of December 26, 2004, increased global awareness to the destructive hazard of earthquakes and tsunamis. Post event assessments of global coastline vulnerability highlighted the Caribbean as a region of high hazard and risk and that it was poorly monitored. Nearly 100 tsunamis have been reported for the Caribbean region and Adjacent Regions in the past 500 years and continue to pose a threat for its nations, coastal areas along the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic seaboard of North and South America.

Significant efforts to improve monitoring capabilities have been undertaken since this time including an expansion of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Global Seismographic Network (GSN) (McNamara et al., 2006) and establishment of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Intergovernmental Coordination Group (ICG) for the Tsunami and other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (CARIBE EWS). The minimum performance standards it recommended for initial earthquake locations include: 1) Earthquake detection within 1 minute, 2) Minimum magnitude threshold = M4.5, and 3) Initial hypocenter error of <30 km.

In this study, we assess current compliance with performance standards and model improvements in earthquake and tsunami monitoring capabilities in the Caribbean region since the first meeting of the UNESCO ICG-Caribe EWS in 2006. The three measures of network capability modeled in this study are: 1) minimum Mw detection threshold; 2) P-wave detection time of an automatic processing system and; 3) theoretical earthquake location uncertainty. By modeling three measures of seismic network capability, we can optimize the distribution of ICG-Caribe EWS seismic stations and select an international network that will be contributed from existing real-time broadband national networks in the region.

Sea level monitoring improvements both offshore and along the coast will also be addressed. With the support of Member States and other countries and organizations it has been possible to significantly expand the sea level network thus reducing the amount of time it now takes to verify tsunamis.