Geologists Warned of Haiti Earthquake

Calculations predicted temblor of up to 7.2 magnitude—but not timing
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2010 1:06 PM CST
Map shows fault line and quake intensity across Haiti.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Scientists have known for years that the fault Haiti sits on was due for a large-magnitude quake—they just didn’t know when. A 2008 paper predicted a quake registering up to 7.2, but “it could have been the next day, it could have been 10 years, it could have been 100,” an expert tells the Miami Herald. The quake that struck near Port-au-Prince was the largest since a 1751 temblor that hit the Dominican Republic.

Geologists surmised that substantial unrelieved pressure had built up in the Enriquillo Fault Line. But even a more precise forecast wouldn't have solved the infrastructure issues hampering relief efforts. “This is the poorest country in the hemisphere,” a think tank director says. “What are they supposed to do and with what resources?” And there’s more to worry about: The Haiti event hasn’t relieved all the pressure, possibly making a quake in Jamaica or the Dominican Republic more likely.

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