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In the news: Press mentions on Haiti earthquake

Professors and alumni comment and report on the earthquake that devastated Haiti.

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CNN: Experts warned of Haiti earthquake risk

Scientists have warned for years that the island of Hispaniola, which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic, was at risk for a major earthquake.

Five scientists presented a paper during the 18th Caribbean Geological Conference in March 2008 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, stating that a fault zone on the south side of the island posed “a major seismic hazard.”

Map of Haiti


Tuesday’s potentially disastrous 7.0 earthquake occurred in Haiti along the same fault line, known as the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone.

“We were concerned about it,” said one of the paper’s authors, Paul Mann, a senior research scientist at the University of Texas’ Institute for Geophysics.

“The problem with these kinds of strikes is that they can remain quiescent — dormant — for hundreds of years,” he said Tuesday evening. “So it’s hard to predict when they’ll occur.”

Read the full article on CNN’s Web site.

PBS: Digging through rubble, Haitians hunt for signs of life

After speaking with us earlier today by phone, we were able to establish a Skype video connection with journalist Ansel Herz [alumnus of The University of Texas at Austin] who has been covering the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince.

“A lot of schools collapsed so people are searching for children that may be still alive beneath the rubble, but in terms of emergency relief from official agencies I’ve really seen nothing,” Herz told us.

Watch the full interview on PBS’s Web site.

USA Today: Haiti draws ‘special type of person’

For University of Texas student Lynn Selby, a passion for Haiti blossomed when she was 10 and her father’s job as an economist required the family to move there.

So it was no surprise to her family when she decided to return to Port-au-Prince to complete her doctoral thesis in anthropology.

“It was a life-altering experience,” said her sister Lee Selby, who still is waiting to hear from her after Tuesday’s earthquake. “The thing that was moving then was the power and spirit of the Haitian people, despite the adversity they face. I am sure that spirit is moving her now.”

Read the full article on USA Today’s Web site.

The New York Times: Haiti earthquake of 2010

Haiti sits on a large fault that has caused catastrophic quakes in the past, but this one was described as among the most powerful to hit the region.

The Caribbean is not usually considered a seismic danger zone, but earthquakes have struck here in the past.

“There’s a history of large, devastating earthquakes,” said Paul Mann, a senior research scientist at the Institute for Geophysics at the University of Texas, “but they’re separated by hundreds of years.” Most of Haiti lies on the Gonave microplate, a sliver of the earth’s crust between the much larger North American plate to the north and the Caribbean plate to the south. The earthquake on Tuesday occurred when what appears to be part of the southern fault zone broke and slid.

The fault is similar in structure to the San Andreas fault that slices through California, Mann said.

Such earthquakes, which are called strike-slip, tend to be shallow and produce violent shaking at the surface. “They can be very devastating, especially when there are cities nearby,” Mann said.

Read the full article on The New York Times’ Web site.