State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Mapping Offshore Faults in Kingston Bay

water clouds and city in the distance
Kingston Bay, with the Jamaican capital in the background. Photo: Cecilia McHugh
sediemtn cores
Cores from the seafloor. The sediment layers contain a historic record of local conditions. Chocolate brown layers contain “event deposits.” Photo: Cecilia McHugh

From January 13 to 15, we transited from the Jamaica Passage to Kingston Bay to map offshore structures near the land. Motion along these faults is thought to be associated with the 1907 Kingston earthquake, which shook the capital of the island with a magnitude of 6.2.

The multicorer recovered sediment layers called “event deposits.” These layers are noted by their chocolate brown color. The sediment layers will be dated and analyzed for their chemical composition and physical properties. The goal is to understand the processes that triggered their deposition: Was it an earthquake? Was it a hurricane?

On the gravity corer pipe is a probe that measures heat flow. It penetrates the sediments and measures heat flow variability associated with friction along the fault zone, providing us with information about the area’s earthquake potential.

Heat flow probe attached to the gravity corer pipe
Heat flow probe attached to the gravity corer pipe. Photo: Cecilia McHugh
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