Molina Palacios, Sergio and Torres Fernández, Yolanda and Moise, Junie and Benito Oterino, Belen
Seismic Risk Scenarios in Puerto Principe (Haiti). A Tool for Reconstruction and Emergency Planning.
In: "AGU FALL MEETING 2011", 5-9 Diciembre, 2011, San Francisco, California, EEUU.
The 12 January 2010, an earthquake hit the city of Port-au-Prince, capital of Haiti. The earthquake reached a magnitude Mw 7.0 and the epicenter was located near the town of Léogâne, approximately 25 km west of the capital.
The earthquake occurred in the boundary region separating the Caribbean plate and the North American plate. This plate boundary is dominated by left-lateral strike slip motion and compression, and accommodates about 20 mm/y slip, with the Caribbean plate moving eastward with respect to the North American plate (DeMets et al., 2000). Initially the location and focal mechanism of the earthquake seemed to involve straightforward accommodation of oblique relative motion between the Caribbean and North American plates along
the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault system (EPGFZ), however Hayes et al., (2010) combined seismological observations, geologic field data and space geodetic measurements to show that, instead, the rupture process involved slip on multiple faults. Besides, the authors showed that remaining shallow shear strain will be released in future surface-rupturing earthquakes on the EPGFZ.
In December 2010, a Spanish cooperation project financed by the Politechnical University of Madrid started with a clear objective: Evaluation of seismic hazard and risk in Haiti and its application to the seismic design, urban planning, emergency and resource management. One of the tasks of the project was devoted to vulnerability assessment of the current building stock and the estimation of seismic risk scenarios.
The study was carried out by following the capacity spectrum method as implemented in the software SELENA (Molina et al., 2010). The method requires a detailed classification of the building stock in predominant building typologies (according to the materials in the structure and walls, number of stories and age of construction) and the use of the building (residential, commercial, etc.). Later, the
knowledge of the soil characteristics of the city and the simulation of a scenario earthquake will provide the seismic risk scenarios (damaged buildings).
The initial results of the study show that one of the highest sources of uncertainties comes from the difficulty of achieving a precise building typologies classification due to the craft construction without any regulations. Also it is observed that although the occurrence of big earthquakes usually helps to decrease the vulnerability of the cities due to the collapse of low quality buildings and the reconstruction of seismically designed buildings, in the case of Port-au-Prince the seismic risk in most of the districts remains high, showing very vulnerable areas. Therefore the local authorities have to drive their efforts towards the quality control of the new buildings, the reinforcement of the existing building stock, the establishment of seismic normatives and the development of emergency planning also through the education of the population.