It’s been more than two years, but the reconstruction of Haiti after 2010’s magnitude seven earthquake is still in its early stages.
Geologists studying the Enriquillo Fault near Port au Prince say there’s an urgent need not only to rebuild quickly, but also to do it with quake-resistant materials and architecture, because more large quakes are coming.
Carol Prentice is a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS):
“Earthquakes on this fault are probably at least magnitude 7, possibly as large as magnitude 7.5, perhaps larger. We don’t know for certain, that’s part of what we’re trying to answer with our work. However, there’s every reason to expect large earthquakes to occur along this fault.”
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Prentice and her team from the USGS say evidence from the fault, which runs across southern Haiti and neighboring Dominican Republic, strongly suggests a new era of seismic activity for the region.
According to Prentice, it shows that four major earthquakes shook the island between 1701 and 1770, followed by a quake free period of 240 years… which ended on January 12, 2010.
The shaking lasted less than 20 seconds, but by the time it was over, hundreds of thousands of people were dead and more than a million left homeless. Most are still living in tents.
Haitian Energy Ministry geologist, Rosemond Narcisse, who’s taking part in the survey, says Haiti has learned the lessons of 2010:
“The government is helping the people to build differently, compared to how they used to build. We’re helping them to build based on earthquake safety methods.”
The geologists can’t predict exactly when the next quake will strike. But Carol Prentice says there’s no doubt that it will come:
“There will be big earthquakes again in Haiti and it’s very important for the Haitian government and the Haitian people to be as prepared as possible because these earthquakes are inevitable.”
Meanwhile, the nation still struggles to rebuild after the last one.