PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jan. 28 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’re returning to Haiti this week for a study designed to determine whether another major earthquake is imminent for the country.
The research, funded by the National Science Foundation, will assess whether the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated the Caribbean country could trigger another major event.
The scientists, led by Purdue University geophysicist Eric Calais, said most aftershocks occur within weeks of the initial quake.
“The big question is instead of small aftershocks, could there be a bigger earthquake coming,” Calais said. “There are many historical examples of an initial earthquake triggering an even larger one along the same or nearby faults. We are concerned for the Dominican Republic, as our preliminary models show the continuation of the fault (into the Dominican Republic) is loaded.”
The Jan. 12 quake killed an estimated 200,000 people in Haiti, left 250,000 injured and 1.5 million people homeless. Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, experienced a magnitude 6 aftershock Jan. 20.
Calais’ team has been tracking the build-up of energy along the Enriquillo and Septentrional faults on the island of Hispaniola, which includes Haiti and the Dominican Republic, for five years. The team issued a 2008 report that warned of a possible magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Haiti and a magnitude 7.5 earthquake in the Dominican Republic.
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