French assessment of the 7th meeting of the intergovernmental coordination group on the tsunami alert system in the Caribbean, under the auspices of UNESCO



The 7th intergovernmental coordination group on the tsunami alert system in the Caribbean, under the auspices of UNESCO, met from 2 to 4 April 2012 in Curacao.

A French delegation was present in order to report on the actions taken in the French Antilles, with the participation of the Paris Institut de physique du Globe de Paris (institute of Physics of the Earth at Paris, des observatoires de volcanologie et de sismologie des Guadeloupe et de Martinique (the Guadeloupe and Martinique Vulcanology and seismology observatories), the prefectures, the Martinique Conseil Général et le Service hydrographique et océanographique de la marine (French navy's hydrographic and oceanographic survey.

In parallel with working groups on modelling, alert distribution and warning of populations, Working Group I concerned, more particularly, seismological and tide gauging observation.



The observatories belonging to:

  • the OVS Guadeloupe, the tide gauges at Deshaie and on the island of la Désirade) ;
  • the conseil général de Martinique (tide gauge in Prêcheur plus a tide gauge to be fitted in Robert) ;
  • SHOM (Tide gauge in Pointe-à-Pitre [Guadeloupe], Fort-de-France [Martinique] on at Ile Royale [French Guiana]).

are gradually changing over to real-time in order to contribute to the tsunami alert system. Fort-de-France and la Désirade already broadcast data, via the Meteosat9 and GOES satellites respectively. These actions are co-financed, in particular, by Europe via the INTEREG IV TSUAREG project.

As in the Mediterranean, where the national tsunami alert centre (CENALT) will enter into operation next July, establishing a tsunami alert system in the Caribbean enables the French tide gauge network and the 7 tide gauges mentioned above to be reinforced, which will of course be displayed on the REFMAR real-time portal.

Within Working Group I, Sébastien Deroussi of the OVS Guadeloupe, was nominated as vice-chairman in order to coordinate working meetings on tide gauging in the Caribbean. Already involved on the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, the challenge now is to support neighbouring countries in the acquisition and installation of equipment.

Finally, for the time being, the Pacific alert centre continues to provide interim cover for the Caribbean area. It takes responsibility for collecting observations provided by the member countries, detecting tsunami-generating sources and broadcasting alarms to the 35 member countries. The ultimate aim of the international meetings (GIC) is therefore that the Caribbean eventually has its own alert centre.

Looking to the future

  • An exercise, CARIBEWAVE2013, is planned for 20 March 2013 and will simulate a tsunami off the island of Curacao, a scenario that would affect almost the entire Caribbean basin. The aim is to test the alert broadcast and reception systems, then the public safety authorities' reactions and even those of local authorities.
  • The 8th ICG/CarTWS will take place at the end of April 2013 in Trinidad and Tobago.

Other news on the tide gauge to discover: