Abstract

Kingston, Jamaica, the capital of the Caribbean island nation of Jamaica, is prone to infrequent but devastating earthquakes and tsunamis, yet the locations of the faults responsible for generating these geohazards are poorly known. The city rests precariously at the western terminus of the Enriquillo Plantain Garden Fault (EPGF)—the same fault that ruptured during the 12 January 2010 Haiti earthquake, destroying Port-au-Prince and killing about 250,000 people (Figure 1 inset). Like Haiti, Jamaica has experienced a significant earthquake every few hundred years; however, the exact frequency and location of large earthquakes across Jamaica remain unclear. In the past 300 years, Jamaica has experienced at least two earthquakes (in 1692 and 1907) comparable to the 2010 Haiti earthquake and, like Haiti, these earthquakes caused significant loss of life, triggered tsunamis, slope failure, and caused widespread ground liquefaction (e.g., Sloane, 1694; Tabor, 1920). The 1907 earthquake killed ∼1000 people in Kingston. The 1692 earthquake completely destroyed Port Royal, a city then notorious as a haven for privateers and as the Western Hemisphere's center for slaving operations.

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