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The exercise simulates a tsunami generated by a magnitude 8.0 earthquake

Published 26th March 2014, 5:39am

The Cayman Islands joins other Countries in the Caribbean as a participant in a tsunami response exercise on March 26, 2014. The purpose of the exercise is to evaluate local tsunami response plans, increase tsunami preparedness, and improve coordination throughout the Caribbean region and northern Western Atlantic.

The exercise has been modeled by NOAA NWS Caribbean Tsunami Warning program, and is titled CARIBE WAVE/LANTEX 14. The exercise simulates a tsunami generated by a magnitude 8.0 earthquake located approximately 270 km off the coast of Portugal. As a result, a widespread Tsunami Warning and Watch situation occurs throughout the Caribbean which requires implementation of local tsunami response plans.

A number of local agencies will be participating in the exercise including Department of Public Safety Communications, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Cayman Islands National Weather Service and Government Information Services.

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

Goal

• Review and enhance the existing National Tsunami Plan

Objectives

• Apply and review notification procedure outlined in Tsunami plan

• Evaluate the use of the local Warning Phases for alerting the public and response services

• Complete evaluation form for Caribe Wave 2014.

• Evaluate notification procedures for a tsunami alert from PTWC – review of local equipment and capabilities.

• Identify long, medium and short issues for tsunami preparedness and response planning.

• Review media templates in plan to be used for expediting media releases and public warning in the event of a tsunami

Historical tsunami records from sources such as the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) show that over 75 tsunamis with high validity have been observed in the Caribbean over the past 500 years. These represent approximately 7–10 % of the world’s oceanic tsunamis. Earthquake, landslide, and volcanic tsunami sources have all impacted the region. Since 1842 almost 3,500 people have lost their lives to tsunamis in the Caribbean.

In addition to tsunamis, the region also has a long history of destructive earthquakes. Historical records show that major earthquakes have struck the Caribbean region many times during the past 500 years. Within the region there are multiple fault segments and submarine features that could be the source of earthquake and landslide generated tsunamis (Figure 2). The perimeter of the Caribbean plate is bordered by no fewer than four major plates (North American, South American, Nazca, and Cocos). Subduction occurs along the Eastern and Northeastern Atlantic margins of the Caribbean plate. Normal, transform and strike slip faulting characterize northern South America, eastern Central America, the Cayman Ridge and Trench and the Northern plate boundary (Benz et al, 2011). In addition to the local and regional sources, the region is also threatened by teletsunamis/trans-Atlantic tsunamis, like that of 1755. A major earthquake occurs about every 50 years in the Caribbean, and the possibility of a resulting tsunami is real and should be taken seriously.

For more information on the ICG/CARIBE-EWS, see http://www.ioc-tsunami.org or contact Simon Boxall at Simon.Boxall@gov.ky or 526-2027