Written by Mike Fend
28 April 2014
Determining how the Caribbean plate moves with respect to the neighboring North America and South America plates has been a major challenge. Geologic plate motion models using seafloor magnetic anomaly rates, transform fault azimuths, and slip vectors are challenging due to sparse data. The only rates come from the Cayman Spreading Center, and seismicity at the eastern boundary is low due to slow convergence. Moreover, the boundary geometry is still unclear, since the Caribbean plate's north and south boundaries are complex deformation zones.
GPS data continue to provide key clues to the Caribbean region’s geologic faults. GPS stations are currently being installed as part of the Continuously Operating Caribbean GPS Observational Network (COCONet), strengthening the indispensible collection of data belonging to a region that faces many atmospheric and geologic natural hazards.
While most people in the Caribbean were enjoying their time off for Easter weekend, UNAVCO engineers Jacob Sklar and Michael Fend were installing COCONet GPS site CN46 on Carriacou Island, Grenada. Carriacou Island, not to be confused with Curacao, is a two-hour ferry ride north of Grenada. UNAVCO worked closely with Terence Walters of Grenada's National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA) and Stephen George from the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWI). CN46 is co-located with UWI's seismic vault; GPS, meteorological, and seismic data are all being transmitted via a satellite connection. Collaborating with UWI will allow both UNAVCO and UWI personnel to monitor the health of the site.
The COCONet project was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with the aim of developing a large-scale geodetic and atmospheric infrastructure in the Caribbean that will form the backbone for a broad range of geoscience and atmospheric investigations and enable research on process-oriented science questions with direct relevance to geohazards. The Caribbean Plate is a unique opportunity to monitor movement, because most of the plate rests underwater. Prior to this endeavor there has been limited monitoring of the Caribbean Plate. Furthermore, each site is equipped with a weather station which records vital atmospheric data that is analyzed by our friends at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) to monitor the movement of potentially deadly hurricanes.
Last modified: 2020-01-28 22:54:29 America/Denver