Seismic Research Centre says delinquent govts hampering its ability to report on quakes


Details of this quake – the biggest in a series of tremors recorded off Dominica on Tuesday – didn’t come until the following day.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Friday October 31, 2015 – The Trinidad-based University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (SRC) is blaming its inability to provide timely information on a series of earthquakes that occurred off Dominica earlier this week on governments – including Dominica – that have been delinquent in paying their contributions.

On Wednesday morning, the SRC posted on its social media platforms that it had been receiving several reports of felt earthquakes from the vicinity of Scotts Head and Soufriere in Dominica the previous day, but was unable to provide a full report on the events “due to technical difficulties”.

Shortly after, the SRC said its instruments recorded seven earthquakes occurring near the southeast coast of ‪‎Dominica between 5:48 p.m. and 11:28 p.m. on Tuesday. The largest event occurred at 6:51 p.m. at a depth of 20 km and was of magnitude 3.1.

In a statement issued yesterday, the SRC said it was “unable to provide timely information on these events due to limitations in its seismic network in the island that have resulted from non-payment of contributions from several Caribbean countries”.

According to the centre, only a third of the governments who should be paying were actually meeting their obligations.

“The centre conducts its routine functions through financial contributions from nine countries in the English-speaking Eastern Caribbean. In the past decade, however, only three of these countries have made regular contributions with the others amassing considerable debt to the UWI spanning several years,” it said.

“The continued non-payment of annual contributions to the SRC by several island governments, including Dominica, has undermined the SRC’s capacity to maintain the regional monitoring network at ideal levels. Financial constraints have also impacted the SRC’s capability to locate small earthquakes sometimes leading to delays in disseminating information to the public on these events.”

Despite the short fall in funding, the SRC contended that it was trying to fulfill its mandate and maintain monitoring operations “as near as possible to optimum”.

Even so, it added, given the heightened seismic activity globally and in the region, it is critical that monitoring agencies such as the SRC are appropriately funded to serve the people of the region “at necessary and expected levels”.

The SRC says it is actively pursuing external funding to support the enhancement of its operations.

It pointed out that, in 2014, a proposal to access international funding to upgrade the monitoring network in Dominica was drafted through the government of that Eastern Caribbean island. However, it said, the status of that proposal is unclear.

Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)