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Caribbean C-America

The Caribbean context

The Caribbean-Central America region is susceptible to medium-low frequency (high impact) earthquake and volcanic hazards, in a wide spatial extent, with limited landmass (insular Caribbean) and has a particularly complex seismotectonic framework:

  • RED: Subduction in the Lesser Antilles and Central America
  • BLUE: Major transcurrent faults on northern and southern boundaries
  • GREEN: Sea floor spreading in the Cayman Trough

According to Caribbean experts, so far not enough has been done to preserve populations and assets against natural hazards. Events such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake made this painfully clear and changes are therefore needed in the region, starting with assessing and understanding the hazard and risk in the area.

Building a regional programme in the Caribbean

From July 2009 steps were taken in order to build a programme in the Caribbean region, linking the different ongoing activities related to earthquake hazard and risk. Not an easy task because of limited data availability and accessibility, as well as the fact that sharing information between institutions and individuals is not always favoured.

July 2009 to January 2011: key stakeholders in the region such as Tony Gibbs and Richard Robertson of the Seismic Research Centre (SRC) at the University of the West Indies, promoted the GEM vision in the Caribbean

May 2011: A 3-day Kick-off workshop, hosted by the University of the West Indies, formally launched the GEM Caribbean Regional Programme. Experts and stakeholders (over 70) from nine Caribbean countries participated:Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Dominica, Cuba, Jamaica, Martinique and Venezuela.

Mid-2011 to mid-2012: After the kick-off meeting, facilitated also by Myron Chin, several activities took place as part of the collaboration with the Seismic Research Centre at UWI.

From mid-2012: A bottom-up approach was adopted, and several experts in the region started to work together first on sharing of data and information, but also on hazard model integration. Now step-by-step progress is being made to expand activities to the whole Insular Caribbean as well as to Central America.

GEM Caribbean Regional Programme

Activities are step-by-step expanded in the region. Currently the following organisations are involved:


National Observatory of the Environment and Vulnerability

Rep. Dominicana

Autonomic University of República Dominicana

Rep. Dominicana

Geological Survey of República Dominicana

Puerto Rico

PRSN, University of Mayagüez

Trinidad & Tobago

Seismic Research Centre, University of the West-Indies

Central America

Expanding activities into Central America:

  • A strategic collaboration is being built and reinforced with the SESDS group of the Technical University of Madrid, Spain.
  • At the end of 2012, SESDS and local experts from the Central American region, carried out the most recent seismic hazard (PSHA) study for the region, with the support of Norway’s Cooperation Agency (NORAD).

Organisations involved so far:


University  Mariano Gálvez

El Salvador

Servicio  Nacional de Estudios Territoriales

Costa Rica

Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad


University of Panamá

How can I collaborate?

To join the pool of experts engaged in earthquake risk assessment in Insular Caribbean or Central America, you can contact Julio Antonio García Peláez. The areas of research include, (but are not limited to):

  • PSHA and cross-border hazard harmonization,
  • Seismic hazard or risk in the region,
  • Research, collection and inventory of data, papers or other knowledge specific to the region.

To keep up to date with GEM initiatives in the region, subscribe to our bimonthly Newsletter.