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Huge underwater cliffs on plate boundaries could let go with the next earthquake and do it again
Experts urge Jamaica to prepare for big quake
A U.S. seismic expert urged authorities in Jamaica to start long-term efforts to prepare for another major earthquake on the island, where the seaside capital was mostly destroyed by a big temblor just over a century ago.
It's impossible for scientists to determine if the next big quake will hit in days or decades, but geophysics professor Eric Calais of Purdue University is urging the island's government and various stakeholders to understand that the threat is very real based on the area's history and active seismic activity.
"A 6.5 in the harbor by the capital could be a tremendous threat," said Calais visit to Port Royal, a town just outside of Kingston which was the island's main city in the 17th century until an earthquake and tsunami submerged two-thirds of the settlement in 1692.
Calais' call is especially sobering because in March 2008 he was among a group of scientists who warned officials in Haiti that their country was ripe for a major earthquake after detecting worrisome signs of growing stresses in a fault. Two years later, that fault unleashed a 7.0 quake that devastated the Caribbean nation, with the government putting the death toll at 316,000 people.