State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

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Haiti Quake Fault Comes Into Focus


Scientists are sailing off the coast of Haiti to assess the recent earthquake there, and the potential for more. This is the latest update, emailed by chief scientist Cecilia McHugh from the research vessel Endeavor.

(Read the full story of the project, involving the Earth Institute and other major institutions.)

We had a successful day and were able to map the Enriquillo fault across the shelf from both the R/V Endeavor and a Zodiac inflatable boat.

The Zodiac was deployed from 8:00 to 17:00 on March 4 to survey the Baie de Grand Gonave with shallow water chirp and side scan sonar in areas in which we thought the fault may surface. Preliminary observations showed a series of en-echelon scarps, which are thought to be the offshore expression of the Enriquillo fault. The data is now being processed and will be merged with the deeper water survey data obtained by the R/V Endeavor. Paul Mann of the University of Texas, who are working on land, will use this information when digging trenches to detect signs of fault movement there.

Multibeam bathymetry and chirp were used to survey the Baie de Grand Goave shelf in water depths from 30 meters to 380 meters. This survey provided excellent results, as well revealing the path of the Enriquillo fault across the shelf manifested by two en-echelon, parallel ridges that that trend nearly east west. The ridges have a maximum relief of 100 meters.

You can see here how these features line up, and a photo of our team in the Zodiac, quite close to land.


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