Was the 2010 Haiti Earthquake triggered by deforestation and the 2008 hurricanes?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:57 PM GMT on December 20, 2010

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Major earthquakes occur when the stress on rocks between two tectonic plates reaches a critical breaking point, allowing the earth to move along the connecting fault. While the slow creep of the tectonic plates makes earthquakes inevitable along major faults, the timing and exact location of the quake epicenter can be influenced by outside forces pushing down on Earth's crust. For example, the sloshing of water into the Eastern Pacific during El Niño events has been linked to magnitude 4, 5, and 6 earthquakes on the seafloor below, due to the extra weight of water caused by local sea level rise. Sea level rise due to rapid melting of Earth's ice sheets could also potentially trigger earthquakes, though it is unknown at what melting rate such an effect might become significant.


Figure 1. Google Earth image of Haiti taken November 8, 2010, showing the capital of Port-Au-Prince and the mountainous region to its west where the epicenter of the 2010 earthquake was. Note the brown color of the mountains, where all the vegetation has been stripped off, leaving bare slopes subject to extreme erosion. Heavy rains in recent years have washed huge amounts of sediment into the Leogane Delta to the north.


Figure 2. Zoom-in view of the Leogane Delta region of Figure 1, showing the large expansion in the Delta's area between 2002 and 2010. High amounts of sediments have been eroded from Haiti's deforested mountains and deposited in the Delta. Recent expansion of the river channel due to runoff from Hurricane Tomas' rains is apparent in the 2010 image. Image credit: Google Earth, Digital Globe, GeoEye.

At last week's American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting last week in San Francisco, Shimon Wdowinsky of the University of Miami proposed a different method whereby unusual strains on the crust might trigger an earthquake. In a talk titled, Triggering of the 2010 Haiti earthquake by hurricanes and possibly deforestation , Wdowinsky studied the stresses on Earth's crust over the epicenter of the mighty January 12, 2010 Haiti earthquake that killed over 200,000 people. This quake was centered in a mountainous area of southwest Haiti that has undergone severe deforestation—over 98% of the trees have been felled on the mountain in recent decades, allowing extreme erosion to occur during Haiti's frequent heavy rainfall events. Since 1975, the erosion rate in these mountains has been 6 mm/year, compared to the typical erosion rate of less than 1 mm/yr in forested tropical mountains. Satellite imagery (Figure 2) reveals that the eroded material has built up significantly in the Leogane Delta to the north of the earthquake's epicenter. In the 2008 hurricane season, four storms--Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike--dumped heavy rains on the impoverished nation. The bare, rugged hillsides let flood waters rampage into large areas of the country, killing over 1,000, destroying 22,702 homes, and damaging another 84,625. About 800,000 people were affected--8% of Haiti's total population. The flood wiped out 70% of Haiti's crops, resulting in dozens of deaths of children due to malnutrition in the months following the storms. Damage was estimated at over $1 billion, the costliest natural disaster in Haitian history. The damage amounted to over 5% of the country's $17 billion GDP, a staggering blow for a nation so poor. Tragically, the hurricanes of 2008 may have set up Haiti for an ever larger disaster. Wdowinsky computed that the amount of mass eroded away from the mountains over the epicenter of the 2010 earthquake was sufficient to cause crustal strains capable of causing a vertically-oriented slippage along a previously unknown fault. This type of motion is quite unusual in this region, as most quakes in Haiti tend to be of the strike-slip variety, where the tectonic plates slide horizontally past each other. The fact that the 2010 Haiti quake occurred along a vertically moving fault lends support to the idea that the slippage was triggered due to mass stripped off the mountains by erosion over the epicenter, combined with the extra weight of the extra sediment deposited in the Leogane Delta clamping down on the northern portion of the fault. Wdowinsky gave two other examples in Taiwan where earthquakes followed several months after the passage of tropical cyclones that dumped heavy rains over mountainous regions. His theory of tropical cyclone-triggered quakes deserves consideration, and provides another excellent reason to curb excessive deforestation!


Figure 3. Two of 2008's four tropical cyclones that ravaged Haiti: Tropical Storm Hanna (right) and Hurricane Gustav (left). Image taken at 10:40 am EDT September 1, 2008. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.

Christmas in Haiti
Portlight.org will brighten the lives of hundreds of kids in Haiti this week, thanks to their successful Christmas in Haiti fundraiser. Portlight raised $1800 to buy toys, candies, and other assorted goodies. The shipment left Charleston last week, and will arrive in time for Christmas. Thanks to everyone who helped support this worthy effort!

Jeff Masters

Stuff for Haiti (Portlight)
Stuff for Haiti
Ms. Mae (Portlight)
Ms. Mae

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Quoting DoverWxwatchter:
I think models are interesting, but I'm waiting until the 23rd before I get excited. So many storms look promising this far out and then are revised away to being ordinary or sometimes almost nothing. But the models are fun to look at!


yeah but this i the first time this year that Wakefield talks about a significant winter storm event, and they usually nail snow forecasts
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If anyone want to read: from the Wakefield office.
.LONG TERM /FRIDAY NIGHT THROUGH TUESDAY/...
LONG TERM FORECAST PERIOD DOMINATED BY POTENTIAL FOR SIGNIFICANT
WINTER STORM ACROSS MUCH OF THE FORECAST AREA FOR CHRISTMAS WEEKEND.
STRONG -NAO CONTINUES TO PERSIST INTO THE EXTENDED PERIOD. IN
GENERAL...TURN TOWARDS SLOWER SOLUTION CONTINUES...WITH THE 00Z AND
NEW 12Z ECMWF RUNNING 12-24 HRS SLOWER THAN THE GFS. THIS IS LIKELY
OWING IN SOME DEGREE TO INTERACTIONS WITH THE AMPLIFYING UPR
PATTERN OVER THE CENTRAL CONUS (ECMWF MORE AGGRESSIVE)...AS WELL
AS WITH THE NORTH ATLANTIC BLOCKING LOW. THE ECMWF FILLS
IN/WEAKENS THIS LATTER FEATURE A BIT SLOWER THAN THE GFS
SOLUTION...WHICH IS MORE PROGRESSIVE AND HENCE...SIGNIFICANTLY
MORE ZONAL (LESS AMPLIFIED) WITH THE UPPER LONGWAVE PATTERN THAN
MOST ALL OTHER DETERMINISTIC GUIDANCE. AS SUCH...GIVEN THE STRONG
AND PERSISTENT -NAO AND AFOREMENTIONED BLOCKING PATTERN IN
PLACE...A BLEND TOWARDS THE SLOWER MORE AMPLIFIED SOLNS MAKE MORE
SENSE. LATEST FCST TAKES A GGEM/ECMWF BLEND...WHICH WOULD FOCUS
MORE NUISANCE OVERRUNNING MOISTURE VERY LATE FRIDAY NIGHT INTO
MIDDAY SAT WITH HIGHEST POPS COMING WITH BEST SLUG OF MOISTURE SAT
NGT/SUNDAY. ECMWF DATA...TAKEN LITERALLY...WOULD NECESSITATE
EXTENDING POPS INTO EARLY MONDAY. WL HOLD OFF WITH THIS FOR NOW
UNTIL GREATER MODEL CONSENSUS EXISTS.

BIGGEST CAVEAT TO KEEP IN MIND IS THAT DESPITE GROWING MODEL
CONSENSUS FOR UPR LVL PATTERN DURING THE LTR SAT-MON TIMEFRAME...THE
TIMING/TRACK OF THE SYSTEM REMAINS VERY MUCH UNCERTAIN (LATEST
ENSEMBLE SPREADS REMAIN SIGNIFICANTLY LARGE FOR SFC LOW TRACK...A
FACTOR WHICH CANNOT BE OVERSTATED). THE DEGREE OF PHASING UPON
REACHING THE COAST...AND (THUS) THE IMPACT ON THE LLVL THERMAL
STRUCTURE WILL BE CRITICAL. AS IT APPEARS NOW USING THE
AFOREMENTIONED GUIDANCE...PREDOMINANT WX TYPE EARLY SATURDAY WOULD
BE LGT RAIN OVER FAR SE VA/NE NC...LGT SNOW OVER MOST OF CENTRAL VA
WITH A NARROW STRIP OF MIXED PCPN (RASN) IN BETWEEN. COLDER AIR WILL
EVENTUALLY TAKE OVER FOR LATER SAT NGT/SUN MRNG AND ALL AREAS...EVEN
THE TIDEWATER/HAMPTON ROADS AREAS INTO NE NC...WL HAVE A CHANCE FOR
SIGNIFICANT SNOW ACCUMULATION AS THE SFC LOW EXITS AND BOMBS OFF THE
MID-ATL COAST DURING THE DAY SUNDAY.

HIGH TEMPS AGAIN SHUNTED DOWNWARD FOR SUNDAY...ESPECIALLY N OF
PROJECTED SFC LOW TRACK. BASED ON THE GFS/ECMWF LLVL THICKNESSES
(WHICH ARE ALSO CLOSE) AND LIKELIHOOD OF EXTENSIVE
CLOUDS/PRECIP...HIGHS MAY NOT GET OUT OF THE LWR-MID 30S SAT OVER
THE NRN HALF OF THE FCST REGION. MEANWHILE... LIKELY COLDER THAN MOS
ON SUN WITH THE STRONG CAA AND PSBL CONTINUED CLOUDINESS/WRAP AROUND
PCPN BEHIND DEEPENING OFFSHORE LOW.

STILL QUITE A BIT OF TIME LEFT TO GET A BETTER EVALUATION OF THIS
SYSTEM...ASSESSING COMPARABLE ANALOGS (CIPS ANALOG GUIDANCE LESS
VALUABLE IN THIS INSTANCE WITH GFS SOLN DISREGARDED FOR THIS
PACKAGE).GIVEN THE TIMING (LIKELY HAVING AN IMPACT DURING ONE OF THE
BUSIEST TRAVEL TIMES OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON)...WILL CONTINUE TO
OUTLOOK THE WINTER WX THREAT IN THE HWO.
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Quoting EnergyMoron:


A wasteful America will not be able to complete in a more efficient world.

China and India... 2 billion folks want to live like we do... airplanes, air conditioning, hair dryers, refrigerators, the whole lot.



Oh yea of little faith.

You shall see.

All to due time.


Member Since: October 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 716
Anyone else starting to buy into the solutions being offered by the EURO for the Christmas day storm? Seems most other models are trending towards the EURO. If you're a snow lover in the South, let's hope it's right!
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Quoting DoverWxwatchter:
Calusakat links, please. Every report about the Climate Research Unit exonerated them.

Do you have any evidence for your charges, or are you just a slanderer?


Re-read the exonerations without the rose colored glasses on and you will see that they were exonerated from any wrong doing.

There was no determination as to the manipulation of the data or the restricting of access through proprietary access.

Basically they said that while they did do those things, the fact was that they were doing nothing wrong.

The leaks themselves clearly revealed that the scientists had absolutely no regard for making sure the research was pristine and flawless. They continually remarked about changing things 'to make the data smoother' etc. Not to mention the discussion of their refusal to share the data or programing because it was all proprietary.

Imagine that, information that would determine the future lives of billions and the data is proprietary. What a fraud.



Member Since: October 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 716
Quoting DoverWxwatchter:
Hmmm. Calusakat slandering James Hansen by calling him biased without giving one shred of evidence for it.


bias... as in having a preconception or to predetermine.

Which often times leads to the perception of a conflict of interest.

Any research or study that is not 'blind' has the potential for...biased execution and/or interpretation. Any true scientist knows that and goes out of his/her way to avoid such conflicts, especially public proclamations.

That is why people recuse themselves from certain situations so as to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

What else to you have there in your copy of the AGW Talking Points booklet?

You're not doing too good of a job following their instructions.



Member Since: October 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 716
Quoting DoverWxwatchter:
Skyepony, what I really worry about is after 2050 when India has a greater population than the USA and China combined and everyone is running their air conditioners on a coal powered grid.

China began its explosive increase in CO2 emissions after the year 2000 when it's economic growth reached the point where their middle class could join the electric grid and use electric appliances (only a small portion of Chinese households own cars yet)

India will reach the per capita income of China in 2000 about 2020, give or take. Then watch out.

China will continue to increase its CO2 emissions rapidly until almost everyone who wants a car and air conditioning has them. That's quite a ways off.


Per my other post don't bother worrying... it's going to happen and there ain't nothing we can do to stop it.

It would be worse but both the Indians and Chinese recognize the importance of resource conservation and renewables.
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Quoting Skyepony:


I posted the EIA finding earlier.. the topic of China ensued as it's contributions weren't even weighed in the Findings.


Okay, those.

Personally I think the forecast is wrong. I think there is in inherent negative feedback that will keep cropping up and I think the economy will continue to be in a death spiral until we wake up and realize we cannot live beyond our means, both monetary and ecological. (debt impacts the future generations also).

Having said that, unfortunately that is the outlook. Even Waxman-Markey was going to rely on clean coal.

Pew Climate report on Waxman Markey

Uh... right, like that is going to happen with the new EPA regs for sequestration. Clean coal is just not going to happen. None of the politicians just ain't going to tell the Americans they are going to have to learn to sacrifice.

We can do much better as a country by focusing on efficiency; we should be cutting 50% of our energy use with no impact on lifestyle, only on what we buy. But with the "grow or die" business mentality that is not going to happen, unfortunately... neither right nor left wants that.

A wasteful America will not be able to complete in a more efficient world.

China and India... 2 billion folks want to live like we do... airplanes, air conditioning, hair dryers, refrigerators, the whole lot.
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What a difference 24 hours makes. My dog looked up during my walk and noticed complete cloud cover. We were fortunate to see something last night that won't return until we are much older...
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854. Skyepony (Mod)
Speaking of the whole e-mail hacking & releasing thing.. That keeps popping up in the Wikileaks. The hackers also tried to get into some US govt offices after climate data but failed. They were trying to get in with e-mails titled "China & Climate Change".
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853. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting EnergyMoron:


Howdy Skyepony:

Can you be more specific about the EIA report?

Yes, coal is the future of China and India if that is what you are referring to, even with their strategic plan to gear up renewables for the 30+ year time frame


I posted the EIA finding earlier.. the topic of China ensued as it's contributions weren't even weighed in the Findings.
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Quoting EnergyMoron:
...
Like, I see somebody around here not worth quoting is already talking about how you cannot get the data nor the computer programs... obviously has not taken the time to read the papers.

It is a victory for the middle... not the extremes.

Both extremes lost.


**********

Did you ever get a chance to read some of the posts between scientists that were leaked from the East Anglia site? It is all there in black and white.

They consider the data and programing to be proprietary. That means that if you are not in the loop...you aint getting any of it except that which they will deign to release.

Even NASA and NOAA admit to tweaking the data.

Tweaked data is false data.

If the data needs tweaking, then they should find better ways to gather it.

Imagine medical research being done using AGW lackadaisical methods...millions would be dying from horrible drug reactions.




Member Since: October 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 716
Quoting Skyepony:
I don't doubt the urgency of the EIA report. Obviously it doesn't even look at China which is doing all it can to catch up with how we've loaded the atmosphere. & on that note the way they have been buying up & securing natural resources across the globe is a bit startling.

Back to that report~ I question the sudden return to & continual rise of CO2. That would take an immediate end to the recession. Problem with that is the price of oil is back up. The price of food & cotton are about to go way up over the next couple of months to 1/2 a year or so. Not just the effects of higher transport costs like '08/'09~ The weather has been horrid.. Sugar (FL freeze, Brazil rain, Europe freeze and Russia burnt down), coffee (floods in Vietnam & Columbia), wheat (Russia has none to export this year), potatoes, cotton (Pakistan flood & China drought). People will conserve being shorter on cash.


Howdy Skyepony:

Can you be more specific about the EIA report?

Yes, coal is the future of China and India if that is what you are referring to, even with their strategic plan to gear up renewables for the 30+ year time frame
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
847. Skyepony (Mod)
I don't doubt the urgency of the EIA report. Obviously it doesn't even look at China which is doing all it can to catch up with how we've loaded the atmosphere. & on that note the way they have been buying up & securing natural resources across the globe is a bit startling.

Back to that report~ I question the sudden return to & continual rise of CO2. That would take an immediate end to the recession. Problem with that is the price of oil is back up. The price of food & cotton are about to go way up over the next couple of months to 1/2 a year or so. Not just the effects of higher transport costs like '08/'09~ The weather has been horrid.. Sugar (FL freeze, Brazil rain, Europe freeze and Russia burnt down), coffee (floods in Vietnam & Columbia), wheat (Russia has none to export this year), potatoes, cotton (Pakistan flood & China drought). People will conserve being shorter on cash.
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Quoting JFLORIDA:
Big conspiracy to hide data there.


LOL
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Quoting JFLORIDA:



Dont use the word "science" in your posts if you cant even provide ONE valid link to a source and you dont believe in reasonable discourse.

NOT ONE.

Thats politics/religion/pure opinion THE OPPOSITE of "what this blog is about."
Thank you Dr. Masters, was unaware you were joining us with a hidden identity and no yellow box...
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Quoting paratomic:
...We have to understand that scientists are not politicians. Similarly people who work in the intelligence agencies and counter-terrorism experts and so on are not politicians either. They're experts. Lets listen to them more and talk less. Talking is cheap.

I agree we should expect evidence before embarking on something. But I think we should be most critical of our political leaders. They're the ones that would eventually take leaky evidence and run with it. Focus on them. Being critical of scientists is good, but being critical of conclusions is something all scientists have ingrained into them from day 1. It's the politicians that're most susceptible to -not- being critical. They build a base on a notion or ideal. Idealism or party principles are not science. They're opinions. So in the least, politicians are going to be harder to control. So we should compensate by expecting a lot.


While scientist nay not be politicians, there can be no doubt that they have, sadly, become politically driven..

Wikileaks is proof positive that people no longer respect such concepts as secrecy. They are much more likely to leak information if it does not conform to their own political viewpoints.

Years ago the idea of introducing bias into a scientific endeavor was abhorrent to most scientists. Today, preconceived results are almost expected to be part of the equation.

Andy Warhol was right when he postulated what people would do for fifteen minutes of fame. The AGW gangs are proving that they have no qualms in destroying a very important branch of science for fifteen minutes of fame.

Imagine if any other branch of scientific study attempted to hide data from people who wanted to know.

It is even worse in this scenario because the altered information they provide to fellow scientists and the biased assumptions they use in programing their computer simulations are deliberately hidden from our view.

The conclusions that are reached by those scientists are then expected to be used in altering the lives of billions of people. All without having to provide transparency or accountability.

We should all be ashamed of ourselves for letting them do such a horrible thing.

Maybe we are all sheeple after all.

Me, I am a sheepdog. As long as I know that I did my best to shine the light of truth on their lies, I will be satisfied that I did my best.

As for politicians...luckily, in America we can wake up and vote the thugs out of office anytime we want. All it takes is stepping away from our reality TV shows and asking 'Just who is running my life. Me or some arrogant politician'

It is up to the sheeple AKA 'Joe & Suzie Sixpack' to reconnect with the real world and stop this nonsense before it is all taken away from them.



Member Since: October 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 716
Quoting DoverWxwatchter:
RipplingH20 because this is Dr. Master's weather and climate blog. That's why we are here. Since by your account all you have to contribute is laughing at posters in here and your 'game' (whatever that may be), then you should go somewhere else where weather and climate talk won't disturb you.

Seriously.
The only thing that disturbs me is people that feel the need to tell me what to think and what to do. I read every post and every link and I decide who has credibility to me and who does not. I'm very educated and very capable of my own analysis and my own decisions. Calusakat has every much the right to express opinions here, with or without proof, peer-reviewed or not, as you do. If you do not care for free expression on a free public blog, may I suggest you try an alternate place to express yourself...seriously.
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Modulo the problem with the "~" in the link, here is the ReadMe from Mann's site...

Don't tell me I cannot access the data... it is not true.

Files and directories within this directory:

instrument: instrumental data used in this study.

proxy: proxy data used in this study ***Updated 25 September 2008***

reconstructions: resulting EIV and CPS reconstructions

rtable1209 are proxy correlations; formatted as follows:
row1: longitude
row2: latitude
row3: proxy ID
row4: corrcoef between proxy and instruments over 1850-1995
row5: corrcoef between proxy and instruments over 1850-1995 for low-frequency band
row6: corrcoef between proxy and instruments over 1896-1995
row7: corrcoef between proxy and instruments over 1896-1995 for low-frequency band.

rtable1209late are proxy correlations over the late-miss period, format:
row1: longitude
row2: latitude
row3: proxy ID
row4: corrcoef between proxy and instruments over 1850-1995
row5: corrcoef between proxy and instruments over 1850-1995 for low-frequency band
row6: corrcoef between proxy and instruments over 1850-1949
row7: corrcoef between proxy and instruments over 1850-1949 for low-frequency band.

itrdbmatrix is the proxy matrix dataset, formatted as follows:
row1: longitude
row2: latitude
row3: proxy ID, the first column: year.

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Quoting DoverWxwatchter:
Link not opening for me.



Need to change %18 to a tilda "~" by hand
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Mistake
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Link

NOTE: CHANGE %18 to ~ by hand in the link

Mann's data can be found at the link (this is from the McShane paper)

Caution noted: apparently it is updated quite a bit
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Quoting DoverWxwatchter:
RipplinH20, calusakat is the one slandering scientists and accusing scientists of hiding data and computer programs. Without any proof.

So if calusakat is going to slander James Hansen, he should put up evidence to back up his charge.

Otherwise it's slander.
So what? It's a blog ABOUT science not a blog among scientists. If bloggers want to rant away, let them. Not one of you combatants today convinced anyone of anything. We lurked and laughed our a$$es off at the game. Why do you think you have to prove anything to anybody here? It's a blog! That's what people do on a blog! They blog! Sorry for ranting about ranting...my dog says it's time for my walk.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.