Dominican geologist reassures residents in wake of Haiti disaster

A geologist at Dominica’s Office of Disaster Management, Tessa Deroche, said it is unlikely that last Tuesday’s devastating earthquake in Haiti’s capital could trigger a similar situation in Dominica.

Residents of the north and Dominicans at large have been expressing concerns about Haiti’s earthquake and its implications for Dominica.

“It doesn’t exactly work like that,” Deroche commented.

“Not because it happened in Haiti, it means it’s going to happen to us. I know it’s very close to home and we have never experienced anything like this in recent history. One of the things we need to take into consideration is that Haiti has poor building structures,” she said.

According to Deroche, Dominica’s structures are much stronger.

“It’s not that we have great building codes, but our structures are much stronger…for now we shouldn’t stop living because it just happened in Haiti and think it’s going to happen to us today or tomorrow,” she added.

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  1. are you kidding me
    January 29, 2010

    Oh grow up people! Oh my goodness! First understand what the other is implying then comment. I agree with you LMC, because after reading the article my comment was about to be like yours but realised you got it covered, didn’t think it necessary to comment in this regard after all

  2. W. Wansborough
    January 21, 2010

    To Newtral:
    I am not saying that Damage will not happen. I agree there will be great damage but in Dominica you stand a better chance of survival than in other places I know. There are many cities on the planet that I would not like to experience a 7.1 and Roseau is not one of them.

    Natural disasters do not affect all human settlements in the same way. For example the wind velocity that will cause great destruction to life and property in one type of location is relatively harmless in another simply because the physical environment(man-made and natural) is constructed differently.
    What is the effect of the Haiti quake on a settlement of nomadic tent dwellers in a desert for example.

    That Haiti quake if it had happened in China say, the order of magnitude for loss of human life could comfortably be in the hundreds of thousands.It could even be a million people. If you study a tabulation of the most severe earthquakes in the last 100 years you will easily see that loss of human life does not correspond well with the strength of the earthquake.

    An earthquake 8 or 9 might not have the same effect on human life everywhere on earth. There are other factors to consider.

  3. newtral
    January 21, 2010

    I hate to be writing twice on the same subject, but it seems that there are those, who by use of fancy words, give the impression that they are Quote, “educated” unquote.

    First of all let me state that I was one of the first persons who had a Motion Accelerograph located at my home and was involved with the monitoring of seismic activity during the early ’90s, during which Dr. Shepherd headed the geological team at the time. There was a clear movement, spearheaded by Dr. Shepherd to prevent “laymen” from being actively involved in the monitoring of earthquake activity in Dominica. At the time the tremors were mainly concentrated in the south of the island.

    Second, my knowledge as it relates to the topography of Dominica and history of seismic activity of the island can be compared to many, as this formed part of my Thesis in my dissertation.

    Now, back to the topic of discussion. the reason why there was so much destruction in Haiti was becuse of three things:
    1. The magnitude of the earth quake (7.1)
    2. The epicenter (the location were the earthquake occurred, 10 miles from the capital)
    3. The hyporcenter ( the dept at which the energy was first released, 9 miles deep)

    If this same earthquake of 7.1 occurred 150 mile below the surface of Haiti, there would have been little or no damage reported.

    Let me cast your mind back to the year 2007. There was a slightly stronger earthquake — with a magnitude of 7.4 which occurred near the island of Martinique. even though it was 90 miles deep, Pieces of the Parliament building in Barbados fell into to middle of Broad Street, Dominica was rocked, I lost my Tv because it fell off the stand. Other islands reported Damage. And this earthquake was not even a direct hit.


    PLEASE WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE, W. Wansborough you are fast asleep!!!

  4. W. Wansborough
    January 21, 2010

    I think it is a good idea for all lay people, to the best of their ability, to acquaint themselves with a bit of basic science where the earth’s geology is concerned.

    There are many places on the net, too numerous to mention, where one can read and educate oneself on geology. I don’t want to dampen the public’s curiosity by posting information. Now that public interest has been heightened it is a good time for some self education.

    There is an important observation that I want to point out. Change is one of the basic characteristics of the natural world as we perceive it with our five senses. Everything is in a constant state of continuous change. Some changes are easy to detect while others are extremely subtle. scientific research helps us to understand the ‘reality’ that underpins our perceptions. An important quantity associated with any kind of change is time. Anybody who wants to grasp even the most basic ideas about motion in the earth’s crust must prepare themselves to think on a very long time scale. Geological time scales are usually calibrated in millions of years. Dominica is a very young island at a few million years old and is still in the process of being born.

    In my opinion, Dominicans should not worry about a repeat of the Haiti quake happening to our island. Dominica is an under populated location with low density housing. There is not the kind of convoluted infrastructure with masses of heavy industrial construction under which people get buried when big quakes happen. The middle of the island is well provided with huge trees with large roots to hold soil and minimize landslides. For example Roseau does not have the heavy mass of construction that would pose any great challenge to diggers or lifting equipment.

    I think what Dominica needs is a study of the Haiti situation from which we can create a model of our own. That model would inform the kind of preparation we make for the big one.

    Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions is the method that nature uses to give birth to land. If there were no land we would most likely all be fish. But then that’s another theory.

  5. newtral
    January 21, 2010


    Who knows when we will have an earthquake? No one! not even our predictive Geologist.

    Further more, while the destruction in Dominica would be less than Haiti, it would still be very Bad.

    If we were hit with a 7.0 magnitude quake as close to the surface as Haiti had, here is what would be likely to Happen.

    1. Sever Landslides, cutting off villages for days even weeks
    2. Collapse of old buildings in Roseau (especially old churches made with malases and rock / no steel) that are built on the Roseau water bed ( can you inmagine a earthquake hitting Dominica at mid morning mass, when these old churches are filled with people)
    3. Collapse of Buildings on steep mountain sides (Fond Cole is one such place)
    4. Severe cracks in buildings, affecting structural integrity, as a result uninhabitable.

    Further more look at the pattern over the last 7 days
    Haiti: 7.0
    Venezuela: 5.6 and 4.8
    Cayman Islands; 5.8
    Haiti: 6.0
    Cuba: 5.8
    Dominica: every day 2.5 to 4.0

    All of these islands are along the Caribbean tectonic plate

    may I suggest you retract that statement.

  6. Jayson
    January 20, 2010

    If a volcano errupts in dominica tomorrow what’s the plan?

    Is there a plan?

  7. January 20, 2010

    nobody knows the day or time when natural disasters happen, they are NATURAL DISASTERS, disaster that will happen, we just have to be prepared mentally, physically and most of all spiritually, we all hear and see what is going on around us, BE PREPARED! and stop arguing about who is wrong and who is right.

  8. LCM
    January 20, 2010

    I think Miss Deroche is right in saying that it may not happen in DA because it happen in Haiti. She is merely trying to calm our nerves. And i also agree we should not stop living.

    However I also think she should go on to explain why and give the public additional info as to the possible reasons for those events and what is being done to keep Dominicans safe. The reason is earth movement and volcanoes are what formed and continues to form the caribbean. We talking about millions of years in geologic term so the possibilty of us seeing it in our lifetime is slim.

    The problem is we never know when it is going to happen. The volcanoes and earthquakes around the Caribbean are not structurally link in a sense that one activity will not trigger another but they are either form part of the subduction Zone where our caribbean plate and atlantic plate meet on the eastern caribean or where two plates slide pass each other (Caribbean Plate and North American )plate

    At the subduction zones (Dominica you have craks in crust that form magma to move upwards causing tremors and related earthquakes and over a long period of time such earthqukes may become extinct if the plates overlap a whole lot.

    At the shear zones where N. American and Caribbean plate pass each other incredible pressure build up and when released leads to 7.0 earthquakes.(Haiti)

    All these tremors in Dominica and the rest of the caribbean is as a result of our Caribbean plates moving like they have been for millions of years ( Remember your Third Form Geography “Formation of the west Indies”). Part of the problem is that the nature and characteristic of the Plate boundries in the Caribbean have not been extensively dissected like those in California and Japan because they have been so quiet for such a long time.

    Bottom line is we are suseptable to both disasters so we have to assess the potential risk and put systems in place so we can handle if they happen, then the public can be rest assured everthing is under control.

    We need to do a better jod at spreading information

    January 20, 2010


    OK the statement was made, this is mare information,it may or may not be acurate, that is beside the point.
    What we have to take in mind is, are we prepare? What are we doing in case something like that happens.
    Does the government have any preparedness plan in place? These are the things we have to adress, not bashing the messanger, she marely stating her educational facts.
    We need to take note; when your neighbor house is on fire, wet yours.

    January 20, 2010



    Frequently Asked Question on Seismic Hazards in Dominica ‐ November 2009
    UWI, Seismic Research Centre, St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago W.I.
    Phone: +1(868) 662‐4659 Fax: +1(868) 663‐9293 Website:

    Why have we been having so many
    earthquakes in northern Dominica recently?

    Small earthquakes may be a sign of
    volcanic unrest. They may be also lead up
    to a larger earthquake or follow major
    earthquakes such as the 29th November
    2007 magnitude 7.3 Martinique
    earthquake that occurred about 60 km to
    the south of the current activity. However
    the earthquakes do occur near to the
    Morne aux Diables volcano, a
    geologically young volcano in the north of
    the island. Scientists are continuing to
    analyse the earthquake data to better
    understand the cause of the earthquakes.

    What is the difference between volcanic
    earthquakes and tectonic earthquakes?

    Volcanic earthquakes are caused by the
    movement of magma while tectonic
    earthquakes are caused by the movement
    of tectonic plates (huge slabs of rock that
    make up the Earth’s crust).
    Volcanic earthquakes occur as magma
    makes its way to the surface of the Earth,
    rising through the crust and breaking apart
    the surrounding rock. Tectonic earthquakes
    are caused by suddenly released energy
    which has accumulated within the area
    where plates meet.
    Can an earthquake trigger a volcanic
    Yes. Large tectonic earthquakes can
    “shake” a volcano and potentially trigger
    an eruption. Alternatively, tectonic
    earthquakes can also stop a volcano that is
    already erupting.

    Should I be concerned about the recent
    earthquakes we have been experiencing?

    Yes, residents should ALWAYS be
    concerned about seismic activity in
    Dominica since it is located in the Lesser
    Antilles, a subduction zone, which
    generates earthquakes and volcanic
    eruptions. Dominica will continue to
    experience earthquakes and its volcanoes
    will continue to be restless, therefore,
    residents should ensure that they know how
    to protect themselves during earthquakes.

    Can earthquakes and volcanoes cause
    Yes, but tsunamis generated by volcanic
    eruptions do not occur frequently and not
    all earthquakes cause tsunamis. If you are
    at the beach and you feel a strong
    earthquake, however, you should move
    immediately inland or to higher ground as
    a tsunami may have been generated.
    How likely is it that a landslide from Morne
    aux Diables could trigger a tsunami?
    It is difficult to say but it is certainly less
    likely than the possibility of a large and
    potentially damaging earthquake occurring
    near to the north coast of Dominica.

  11. Wondering
    January 20, 2010

    Ok now first of all why all these people asking if the lady is not God, Because someone made a statement about God’s wrath last week and he is being rediculed and now look you all are saying she not God so what is it gonna be. Ms Deroche is right. not because it happened in Haiti dont mean its gonna happen in Dominica right now. you all need to do some research before making statements and being so negative.

  12. JBJ
    January 19, 2010

    Sorry Madame Deroche but U aint God, the poeple in Noah’s day thought there wasnt going to be a flood cause they hadnt seen rain b4, I urged us all to prepare, Spiritually, mentally and physically.

  13. Looking
    January 19, 2010

    Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the United States Geological Survey website state that there were approximately 80 earthquakes measuring anywhere from 2.4-7.0 on the Richter scale within the Caribbean Region alone last week? How can these not be related. I’m no geologist but something’s definitely going on and we need to be as prepared as possible.

  14. Trevor Johnson
    January 19, 2010

    Bel ti story for real. Madame Deroche must be god!

    January 19, 2010

    It is a matter of PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE. Stop fooling the people. The whole Region is at this moment volatile and changing especially with the drilling of the Earth for renewal(geothermal) energy. The need for population first aid training is necessary as part of that preparedness. TO BE LATE IS NOT ALWAYS A WISE MOVE

    January 19, 2010

    thats a lesson to us in da .lets build according to the building codes given to us its for our saftey and lets remember that this can happen anywhere so let us as dominicans take the time out to learn first aid and also lets encourage our young persons to take school seriously and work to become doctors specializing in all diffrent typs of fields

  17. Hmmm
    January 19, 2010

    Bel ti story,,,,

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