Earthquake Unit's ability to monitor seismic activity boosted

Photo: Managing director at the Jamaica Social Investment Fund Omar Sweeney (second left) greets head of the Department of Geography and Geology at the University of the West Indies, (UWI) Mona Campus, Professor Simon Mitchell (right) following the signing of the memorandum of understanding between UWI and JSIF at the university’s regional headquarters in Kingston last Tuesday. Looking on are pro-vice chancellor and principal of the UWI, Mona Campus, Professor Archibald McDonald (second right) and permanent secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Denzil Thorpe. (Photo: Javene Skyers)

Under the Jamaica Social Investment Fund’s (JSIF) new Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project (DVRP), The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus’ Earthquake Unit will see significant improvements in their ability to monitor and respond to seismic activity through the provision of equipment and technical support valued at $104 million.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between UWI, Mona Campus and JSIF last Tuesday at the university in Kingston, where it was highlighted that the overall development objective of the project was to enhance the country’s resilience to disaster and climate risk.

The project, which is being proposed for six years, is intended to support the Government of Jamaica in sustainable disaster risk management. Activities will include the improvement of critical facilities, such as fire stations, development of spatial planning tools, training programme to support the implementation of the National Building Code, among other wider initiatives.

The UWI’s Earthquake Unit is one of the first recipients under the project, which is being funded by a World Bank loan of US$30 million.

“This upgrade will see 10 digital seismometer systems, which give data on the earthquake’s magnitude, depth and epicentre, to be placed at seismic stations across the island, seismic vaults or piers constructed at six station sites… 25 accelerographs, which measure the horizontal force acting on a building, not only to be placed at seismic stations but also at hospitals, schools, bridges and other critical infrastructure,” managing director of JSIF Omar Sweeney said.

He added that under the project, Ethernet radios will be provided for the seismic stations still using an analogue system, and that there will be the construction of a new, fully equipped seismic station, which will close the gap between Munro College in St Elizabeth and the Negril seismograph stations in the western part of the island, resulting in full island coverage.

This, Sweeney noted, will all be supported by solar panel systems, which will also be provided for seismic stations currently dependent on the Jamaica Public Service to enable them to have their own autonomous power source. Read more

Source: Jamaica Observer