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    Seismologists Warn of Further Caribbean Quakes


    by NTDTelevision

    The still incalculable devastation of Port au Prince came as the result of an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale. It is the strongest to hit the nation in more than 20 years, and the shallowness of the quake worsened its destructive power.

    Powerful aftershocks continue to terrorize the population. Some tremors were measured as high as 6.1 on the Richter scale. The aftershocks occurring in Haiti will likely continue but diminish in strength over time.

    [Grenville Draper, Florida International University Professor]:
    “Usually the pattern is that they die down and become smaller, but earthquakes are inherently unpredictable.”

    Draper, who has done extensive research on the fault lines in the Caribbean, warns that stresses to subterranean areas to the west and parts of the east have increased. He says proof of this is that most of the aftershocks were to the west of the main shock.

    He also says that other Caribbean nations are just as vulnerable as Haiti. The quake that has devastated the nation was caused by the release of energy built up between two tectonic plates that run through the Caribbean.

    The two plates, known as the North American and Caribbean plates, were grinding against each other for millennia along a fault line that stretches from Jamaica to the Dominican Republic.

    [Grenville Draper, Florida International University Professor]:
    “Other places that are building up large amounts of strain and may well be overdue for some larger earthquake, is first of all Jamaica and northern Dominican Republic."

    Neither country has had a major earthquake in more than 500 years. The Jamaican capitol of Kingston is at risk as it sits on the same fault line as that which shook Port-au-Prince.

    According to Draper, the unpredictability of earthquakes is what makes them so difficult to prepare for. The best that experts can do is to point out the danger.