New Sensors Installed On Tide Gauge, Improved Tsunami Warnings

New Sensors Installed On Tide Gauge, Improved Tsunami Warnings

November 20, 20131090Views

Thursday, November 20, 2013 –The seismic monitoring network in the British Virgin Islands has received
another boost with the installation of sensors on the Territory’s tide

Two Scientific Instrumentation Specialists, from the Puerto Rico Strong
Motion Programme (PRSMP) at the University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez (UPRM) were
in the BVI last week to undertake the installation work at the tide gauge which
is located near the BVI Fisheries Complex in Baugher’s Bay.


Mr. Juan Lugo Toro explained that the tide gauge is part of a tsunami warning
system that is being developed in the Caribbean.“It is part of a network of about seven tide gauges around the Caribbean
which work together with the seismic stations to generate alerts if an
earthquake occurs, and there is the possibility of a tsunami developing,” Mr.
Toro explained.


Mr. Toro said there are two sensors on the tide gauge, one of which will
serve as the back-up to continue providing data in the event that the primary
sensor fails.


Technical Planning Officer at the Department of Disaster Management, Mr.
Christopher Williams explained that the tide gauge serves two purposes. “It will
help with our tsunami warning system and it is also essential for observing sea
level rise and other long-term changes in the coastline,” Mr. Williams said.


In addition to the sensors, the PRSMP team also established benchmarks with
the support of Mr. Michael Potter, a surveyor at the Lands and Survey
Department. These, according to Mr. Williams “are precise measurements of
vertical datum or height which can be used to compare tidal measurements.”


He further explained that “there is need to establish a long record of tidal
observation, for a cycle of about 18.6 years, from which a mean sea level is
established, which is basically an average over a long period of time.”


DDM Director, Ms. Sharleen DaBreo is quite enthused by the progress being
made with the Territory’s tsunami readiness initiatives. “The BVI as you are
aware is located in an active seismic zone which makes us vulnerable to
earthquakes and tsunamis. The department is cognizant of this vulnerability and
we have been taking steps to improve our readiness and working with University
of Puerto Rico to improve monitoring systems.”

She revealed that in addition to the improved monitoring, the department has
also been working on tsunami evacuation maps which will be launched shortly. “We
are well aware of the hazards that threaten the BVI and we are working to ensure
that we undertake all methods of mitigation and preparedness to reduce the loss
of life and property should we have a hazard impact,” the DDM Director said.


In addition to the tide gauge, the BVI seismic monitoring network also
includes two seismic stations and close to 30 strong motion sensors
strategically placed across the Territory. The data generated through the
network is monitored online and analysed regularly.

PRSMP has been invaluable in the support provided to the DDM in establishing,
improving and maintaining the seismic monitoring network. The University
of Puerto Rico –
Mayaguez has been in partnership with the DDM
since the late 1980s when the first seismic station was established on Anegada. 
In 1999, a formal agreement was signed with the University to provide earthquake
and strong motion monitoring for the BVI.


Scientific Instrumentation Specialist, Mr. Javier Santiago establishes a
benchmark near the BVI Fisheries Complex in Baugher’s Bay, while his colleague
Mr. Juan Lugo Toro and Mr. Michael Potter of the Lands and Survey Department
observe the work in progress. Photo Credit: Department of Disaster



Gauge located in the BVI Fisheries Complex in Baugher’s Bay, which is part of a
regional network designed to offer an improved tsunami warning system. Photo
Credit: Department of Disaster Management.