M7.0 Earthquake in Haiti Region - Update

14-Jan-10

EQECAT is providing this updated notification for the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that occurred in Haiti on January 12. The earthquake occurred on the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault system, which is oriented in the east-west direction just south of Port-au-Prince.

Faults on the island of Hispanolia - January 14, 2010

Faults on the island of Hispanolia - January 14, 2010
Source: EQECAT

From the epicenter, which was located southwest of Port-au-Prince, the earthquake ruptured primarily in a westward direction. All of the 43 aftershocks (as of 20:00 Greenwich Mean Time, January 14) have also occurred to the west of the initial shock. Had the rupture been directed toward Port-au-Prince, the city would have experienced even more devastation. While this is little solace in light of such a human tragedy, it is relevant considering that this earthquake, which ruptured only a portion of the fault, increases the chances of another large earthquake in coming decades on the eastern portion of the same fault. This is because stress relieved by a rupture is transferred to adjacent segments of the fault. If additional stress on the eastern segment of this fault were to trigger another earthquake, it could impact Port-au-Prince with equal or greater severity as the recent event. The EQECAT event set specifically includes earthquakes on the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault system.

In light of the considerable humanitarian aid needed for recovery, in addition to the cost of reconstruction, EQECAT's updated estimate of economic damage is in the low-single-digit billions of dollars, compared to EQECAT's initial estimate in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Fatalities from this event could be in the tens of thousands. The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (www.ccrif.org) has been triggered.

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