Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Prepare citizens for disasters - Mitchell

Published:Monday | June 27, 2016 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Nadine Molloy (centre), principal, Ardenne High School, joins Ardenne High School Drummers Darielle-Dave Nicholson (left) and Roshane Wright (right) in a cultural performance. Looking on in the background are Professor Simon Mitchell, head of Geology and Earthquake Unit, and Dr Katherine Ellins, US Fulbright programme representative, during the launch of the Jamaican Educational Seismic Network, held at the Ardenne High School last Thursday.

An Education Seismic Network Unit which was launched at the Ardenne High School in St Andrew could signal a competitive advantage for Jamaica on the global scale, according to Professor Simon Mitchell, head of the Geography, Geology and Earthquake Unit at the University of the West Indies.

Mitchell said it is imperative that everything is done to educate and prepare citizens for natural disasters.

Dr Katherine Kelly-Ellins, who conceptualised the unit, said Jamaica should do more to educate students in geology and mathematics, as these are critical subjects which will help persons to monitor natural events.


"Jamaica sits on the plate boundary between North America and the Caribbean, and for that reason, it is very vulnerable to seismic hazards. There are earthquakes happening all the time. Jamaica is quite similar to what is happening along the San Andreas Fault, so we have a high seismic risk," said the Fulbright scholar and a programme director of diversity and outreach in the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin.

"In fact, the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault, which goes to the Dominican Republic and into Haiti and Jamaica, is the same fault which ruptured in the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and so that gives us a glimpse of the kind of hazard that we are living with. This (unit) was envisioned as a way of promoting and understanding the hazard," he continued.

Meanwhile, Mitchell urged citizens to be vigilant and keep abreast of information regarding earthquake safety.

"With earthquakes, it's those first few days that are most serious. Surviving those few days is the critical thing. Things that you need are food, water and whatever necessities are needed. If you can't get anywhere because roads are falling apart, you will have problems and you do need those resources, and it doesn't cost much," he declared.