The University of the West Indies, at Mona, Jamaica Homepage

The University of the West Indies

at Mona, Jamaica

Earthquake Unit

 leaf as bullet  Home
 leaf as bullet  Our Mission Statement
 leaf as bullet  History
 leaf as bullet  Earthquakes in Jamaica
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 leaf as bullet  Earthquake Updates
On January 28, 2020, an earthquake of magnitude 7.7 with epicentre located approx. 110km NNW of Lucea, Hanover was reportedly felt islandwide.
Did you feel it? Please click here to download and print our Earthquake Report Form*. *Requires Adobe Reader
Antenna used for transmitting data 
Visiting school students at Earthquake Unit booth during exhibition

Publication and Research





Papers | Articles | In-House | Research Projects | Quaterly Report


DeMets, C. and Wiggins-Grandison, M.D. (2007) Deformation of Jamaica and motion of the Gonâve microplate from GPS and seismic data, Geophysical Journal International, 168 (1) , 362-378. Full text (pdf, 1,105 kb)

Wiggins-Grandison, M.D. and Atakan, K. (2005) Seismotectonics of Jamaica, Geophysical Journal International, 160, 573-580.

Wiggins-Grandison, M.D. (2004). Simultaneous inversion for local earthquake hypocentres, station corrections and 1-D velocity model of the Jamaican crust, Earth & Planetary Science Letters 224, 229-240.

Wiggins-Grandison, M.D., Havskov, J. (2004). Crustal attenuation for Jamaica, West Indies. Journal of Seismology 8, 193-209.

Wiggins-Grandison, M.D., Kebeasy, T.R.M. and Husebye, E.S. (2003). Enhanced earthquake risk of Kingston due to wave field excitation in the Liguanea Basin, Jamaica. Caribbean Journal of Earth Science 37, 21-32.

Moreno, B., Grandison, M. and Atakan, K. (2002). Crustal Velocity Model along the southern Cuban margin: implications for the tectonic regime at an active plate boundary. Geophysical Journal International 151, 632-645.

Wiggins-Grandison, M.D. (2001). Preliminary Results from the New Jamaica Seismograph Network. Seismological Research Letters 72, 525-537.

Natural Disaster Research, Inc.; The Earthquake Unit, University of the West Indies; Mines and Geology Division, Ministry of Mining and Energy (1999). Kingston Metropolitan Area Seismic Hazard Assessment Final Report and Appendix. Prepared for the U.S. Agency for International Development/Organization of American States, Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project, Kingston Multi-Hazard Assessment: 82 pp. (see

Wiggins-Grandison, M. D. (1996). Seismology of the January 13, 1993, Earthquake. The Journal of the Geological Society of Jamaica, 30, p1 - 14.

Wiggins-Grandison, M. D. and Reid, W. (1993). Seismic Hazard in Jamaica in The Practise of Earthquake Hazard Assessment, R. K. McGuire (editor), International Association of Seismology and Physics of the Earth’s Interior, p 165 - 168.

Mickens, R.E. and Wiggins-Grandison, M.D. (1984). Exact Solutions of the Nonlinear Unidirectional Wave Equation. Journal of Sound and Vibration 97(1), 165-167.

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Wiggins-Grandison, M. D. Tsunamis and Jamaica, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management Disaster Supplement, The Gleaner, January 2005

Wiggins-Grandison, M. D. Unexpected Earthquakes on Unsuspected Faults, Faculty of Natural Sciences Mona Newsletter, 8, No. 4, May 1995, p 18 - 20.

_______, Earthquakes and High-Rise Buildings in Jamaica: Insurance or Assurance. Housing and Finance, Building Societies Association of Jamaica Ltd., September 1994, p 14 - 16.

_______ , When is the next big earthquake due ? Office of Disaster Preparedness Disaster Supplement, The Daily Gleaner, June 1, 1994.

________, The Earthquake of January 13, 1993, and Implications for Earthquake Hazard in Eastern Jamaica (abstract) Proceedings of the Caribbean Conference on Natural Hazards: Volcanoes, Windstorms, Floods, in W. B. Ambeh (editor) October 11-15, 1993, Trinidad, Seismic Research Unit, UWI - St. Augustine, p 65 - 76.

_______, Earthquakes and You. Office of Disaster Preparedness Disaster Supplement, The Daily Gleaner, June 1, 1993.

_______, Woodford, Jamaica, Earthquake of January 13, 1993. Earthquake Engineering Research Institute Newsletter, 27, No. 4, April 1993.

_______, The Earthquake of January 13, 1993. The Jamaican Society of Scientists and Technologists Newsletter, March 1993.

_______, Earthquake of January 13, 1993 - Woodford Revisited ? Faculy of Natural Sciences Mona Newsletter, 6, No. 3, February 1993.

_______, Earthquakes and Development. Science and Technology Column of the Scientific Research Council, The Sunday Gleaner, January 19, 1992.

_______ and R. Ahmad, Geohazards in the Caribbean: Earthquakes - Islands in Stress. Faculty of Natural Sciences Mona Newsletter, 4, No. 4, May 1991.

_______, The Kingston Earthquake in Perspective, January 14, 1907. Office of Disaster Preparedness Disaster Supplement, The Daily Gleaner, January 14, 1991.

_______, Are We Sitting on a Time Bomb ? Caribbean College of Family Physicians Bulletin, Volume 2 (3): 1990, p 2-4.

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Jamaica Seismograph Network Bulletin, Volume 2 & 3 (for 1990 & 1991) 74 pp

Jamaica Seismograph Network Bulletin, Volume 4 & 5 (for 1992 & 1993) 128 pp

Jamaica Seismograph Network Bulletin, Volume 6 & 7 (for 1994 & 1995) 143 pp

Jamaica Seismograph Network Bulletin, Volume 8 & 9 (for 1996 & 1997) 114 pp

Jamaica Seismograph Network Bulletin, Volume 10 (for 1998) 138 pp

Jamaica Seismograph Network Bulletin, Volume 11 (for 1999) 111 pp

The above are in-house publications of earthquakes located and extra-regional phase data recorded by the Jamaica Seismograph Network. Each issue includes a preface, acknowledgements and four sections. Section A is a documented introduction to the Jamaica Seismograph Network, with maps and a bibliography. Each annual volume has three sections: B, which lists all earthquakes located with phase readings and provides epicentral maps; C, which contains lists of all earthquakes felt on Jamaica and maps of intensities when there is sufficient information; and D, an illustrated summary of each year’s seismicity, including b-value plots. The issues have been distributed to national and parish libraries and libraries of other prominent organizations (total distribution about 30 copies of each issue).

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  1. Measuring slip-rates on Jamaican Faults using Global Positioning System (GPS)

    Start date: January 1999
    Status: Phase 1
    End date: 2004

    This project is directed by Professor Charles DeMets of the University of Wisconsin - Madison in collaboration with Dr. Margaret Wiggins-Grandison of the Earthquake Unit, UWI.

    Setting up a campaigning GPS in Jamaica
    Setting up a campaign GPS site with solar panels for energy.
    The aim is to measure slip rates on active Jamaican faults, which will lead to better understanding of Jamaican neotectonics and ultimately seismic hazard. The National Science Foundation (NSF) of the United States of America funds the project and the Earthquake Unit provides logistical support. During Phase 1 some 20 GPS sites were established on Jamaica. The results of this phase are presented in the 2007 publication "Deformation of Jamaica and motion of the Gonâve microplate from GPS and seismic data". For summary click here
  2. Measuring slip-rates on Jamaica faults using GPS

    Start date: January 2005
    Status: Phase 2

    Starting in 2005, ten (10) new GPS monuments have been added including sites at Pedro and Morant Cays. It is hoped that the new sites will enable the resolution of which faults are most active on or off-shore Jamaica.

  3. A New Generation of Seismic Hazard Maps for Jamaica

    Start date: February 2005
    Status: Completed (Open to updates as more information is obtained).
    End date: April 2006

    The last seismic hazard maps for Jamaica was done by Shepherd et al (1999) under a Caribbean wide project of the Pan American Institute of Geography and History (PAIGH) with CIDA funding. A catalogue of Caribbean earthquakes including historical events was prepared for this project and a seismic hazard map reflecting Peak Ground Acceleration [PGA] in any 50-year period with a 10 % probability of exceedance [PE] (i.e. for 475-yr Return Period) was prepared for Jamaica as well as other territories in the region. The new seismic hazard maps are based on an updated Jamaica earthquake catalogue which is believed to be the most comprehensive to date. Spectral ground acceleration is presented for 0.2 and 1.0 second ambient periods, respectively for site class, 'average rock', with a 2% PE in any 50-year period. This represents a 2,475-year hazard which is in keeping with the recommendations of the International Building Code (IBC).

  4. Seismic Microzonation of Kingston

    Start date: November 2004
    Status: In progress
    Projected end date: 2008.

    A standard seismic hazard map accounts for shaking when the substrate is uniform and consists of rock. When the substrate consists of unconsolidated soil or alluvium which may include clay, gravel and/or sand layers, seismic microzonation is necessary. Microzoning modifies a standard seismic hazard map by accounting for the varying levels of ground shaking that are brought about as the energy propagates through varying thickness and type of soil. This project to microzone Kingston is one module of UNESCO-IUGS-IGCP project 487: Microzonation of Latin American Cities. The modern methods of modal summation and 2-D finite-differences techniques will be used in conjunction with input information on the soil profile of Kingston and the seismicity of Jamaica to construct seismic hazard maps that are tailored for Kingston.

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