Wed | Apr 8, 2020

Tsunami would have affected marine interests most - Lyew Ayee

Published:Thursday | January 11, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
Dr Parris Lyew Ayee

If Jamaica had experienced a tsunami, the scare of which sent some residents fleeing their homes on Tuesday evening, Dr Parris Lyew Ayee said that it would not have resulted in devastating damage.

The head of the Mona GeoInformatics Institute of the University of the West Indies, however, said that he was very uncomfortable that Jamaicans will become complacent and he warned against lack of preparedness.

Jamaica had been monitoring the situation after a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck in the Caribbean Sea between the coast of Honduras and the Cayman Islands, Tuesday night, causing officials to warn people around the region to be alert to the threat of possible tsunami surges.

"If it came to Jamaica, my concern would have been for the marine interests, especially coast guards with their boats docked up. This tsunami wouldn't have toppled any building or resulted in major displacements. It would have caused boats to rise up and bounce things but nothing that would result in widespread destruction," he explained.

"For God sake, this is not the same as the Boxing Day tsunami in Thailand. I'm not ruling out something like that happening in Jamaica, but we have to remember that those parts of the world are seismically more active," he explained.

Thailand was one of the countries that was hit by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami on December 26. The Thai authorities estimate that at least 8,150 people died.


People going to Palisadoes to see Tsunami is madness!


Dr Parris Lyew Ayee, head of the Mona GeoInformatics Institute is cautioning persons to not believe that tsunamis cannot harm Jamaica.

"A tsunami is a displacement of water caused by an earthquake or a landslide so Jamaica is not exempted. This tsunami was 0.3 metres, for context, the Boxing Day tsunami (Thailand) was 10 metres so that was 20 times higher than this tsunami, but both are tsunamis," he said.

"I was a little nervous and concerned because it was a 7.6 earthquake and even though it's not the same as a magnitude nine, the magnitude was higher than Haiti and Haiti was seven. It was also very shallow and close to Jamaica so all of those three things made me concerned."

He added, "Another thing that I heard, was people saying that they are going to Palisadoes to see it. That would be madness. Even though it wouldn't have been spectacular (damage), we need to be careful with those kind of impulses. As a country we have been lucky over the years, whether it's hurricane Matthew and the others, in addition to what could have happened last evening. But please, do not become complacent. The best lesson for complacency is a lick and we don't want a lick."