Coordinating tsunami alerts in the Lesser Antilles (Source DEAL Guadeloupe)

 

DEAL guadeloupe

 

Source : DEAL Guadeloupe, 19 June 2012.

 

In order to face up to the tsunami risk in the Caribbean region, the Tsuareg project aims to coordinate the monitoring networks of the Lesser Antilles arc. The efficient transmission of information forms the basis of the "upward alerts", which will enable "downward alerts" to be passed from the public safety authorities to the population.

 

A major issue for the Caribbean

Tsuareg's ambition is to stimulate local scientific research and regional cooperation in order to optimize crisis management and warn of the risk of tsunamis. Coordination of alert monitoring networks needs to be sought as major earthquakes and tsunamis in the Caribbean would affect all the islands. This far-reaching Caribbean project is therefore lead by the Martinique vulcanology and seismology observatory (OVSM), associated with the Guadeloupe vulcanology and seismology observatory (OVSG), both part of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (Paris institute of Physics of the Earth) (IPGP). Also associated with the project are the Seismic Research Center (SRC) of the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago, the Martinique Conseil général, Météo France and the French navy's hydrographic and oceanographic service (SHOM).

It is part financed by the European Interreg IV programme. This financing is supplemented by the Government (Research and Environment and IPGP).

 

How is the tsunami alert monitoring up to the arrival of the public safety authorities?

First you have to detect earthquakes that are potentially tsunami-generating. To do that, 9 new seismological stations will be established in Martinique, Antigua, Dominica and Saint-Lucia as part of the Tsuareg project. In Guadeloupe and in the Northern islands, 7 seismological stations are currently being installed. They are financed as part of the Contract for the Government - Regional plan's operational programme (CPER-PO), co-financed by the European Union, the Government (Research and the Environment) and the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (Paris institute of Physics of the Earth).

 

Tide gauge observatory at Prêcheur managed by the Conseil Général de Martinique (Photo credits SHOM, December 2011)

Tide gauge observatory at Prêcheur managed by the Conseil Général de Martinique (Photo credits SHOM, December 2011)

 

Next, by means of sea level measurements, any tsunami generated by a seismic event must be validated using tide gauges. The information gathered would be essential (arrival time, amplitude and period) if a tsunami were to form.

Tide gauge observatory at Fort-de-France managed by SHOM in partnership with Météo-France and the French Navy (Photo credits SHOM, December 2011)

Tide gauge observatory at Fort-de-France managed by SHOM in partnership with Météo-France and the French Navy (Photo credits SHOM, December 2011)


The Tsuareg project is financing the installation of a new tide gauge on Martinique and the modernization of 4 tide gauges belonging to the Conseil Général de la Martinique or SHOM in the region, by installing in them a real-time satellite transmission facility. This is the case, for example, at the tide gauge at Fouillole point in Pointe-à-Pitre, fitted with this new equipment in May 2012.

Tide gauge observatory at Pointe-à-Pitre managed by SHOM in partnership with Météo-France and the Direction de la mer de Guadeloupe – Lights and beacons service (Photo credits SHOM, May 2012)

Tide gauge observatory at Pointe-à-Pitre managed by SHOM in partnership with Météo-France and the Direction de la mer de Guadeloupe – Lights and beacons service (Photo credits SHOM, May 2012)

 

The CPER-PO Guadeloupe is financing the installation of two new tide gauges, on Désirade (operational since 2010) and at Deshaies (currently under construction).

Tide gauge observatory on La Désirade (Photo credits IPGP, June 2010)

Tide gauge observatory on La Désirade (Photo credits IPGP, June 2010)


The data thus recorded by tide gauges will be transmitted every six minutes by satellite link to the tsunami alert centres, in order to confirm or discount the propagation of the problem as quickly as possible. These scientific data are also transmitted in real-time to the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), an international body created by UNESCO, which centralizes tide gauge data from around the world.


The tsunami alert centre for our islands is that in Hawaii. It transmits alerts to a national body, the Focal Point, which for France is Météo France. In order to optimize the transmission time of alert messages to Prefectures, the Tsuareg project is financing 3 programmable logic controllers which will eventually be installed in the regional centres of Météo France for Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana.

 

 

Naturally, the tide gauge data available on REFMAR after subscription can be used for other applications.

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