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Saturday 22 September 2018
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UWI Seismic: Implement lessons learned

UWI Seismic Research Centre press conference from left ,seismologist Dr Joan Latchman , engineering seismologist Dr. Ilias Papadoupolos and Director/geologist Professor Richard Robertson at Research institute at Gordon St in st Augustine..PHOTO SUREASH CHOLAI 22-08-18

TT experienced more than 32 aftershocks in the 23 hours after the region experienced a magnitude 6.9 earthquake at 5.31 pm on Tuesday. This includes the magnitude 6.0 aftershock at 9.27 am yesterday – 40 kilometres east-southeast of Carúpano, Venezuela – which was also felt in several islands.

The latest information on aftershocks comes from Professor Richard Robertson, director of The University of the West Indies’ Seismic Research Centre (UWI Seismic), St Augustine Campus.

Addressing the media yesterday afternoon, Robertson said what’s required now is the creation and enforcement of a national building code, investment in earthquake-resilient structures and proper land use planning.

“You now feel how strong an earthquake can be and how much it can shake. Everybody’s concerned. What it requires now is the investment that’s necessary to ensure that the structures could be maintained in the future, bigger, event...Long-term resilience requires long-term investment and it requires decisions at a very highest levels to invest the time and effort to ensure that we have proper structures.”

Regarding TT’s general state of readiness, Robertson said with the national community apparently no longer “complacent”, the lessons learned must be applied towards the establishment and enforcement of a national building code.

“At an individual level,” Robertson added, “the feeling I get from observing the traffic on social media and radio, is that we are not quite mentally and physically and otherwise prepared for the kind of shaking that can happen. Therefore I think it is incumbent on all of us, individually, to find out as much as we can about what we can do.” Robertson’s colleague, seismologist Dr Joan Latchman gave an explanation as to why TT did not experience the type of massive devastation as in Port au Prince, Haiti following the magnitude 7.0 earthquake of 2010.

“The difference was that Haiti’s earthquake occurred ten kilometres from Port au Prince at 10 km’s depth, so that made a big difference. Had this same earthquake (August 21) occurred 10 km from Port of Spain, at 10 km’s depth, the story today would be very different,” Latchman said.

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