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The 8 April 1860 Jour de Pâques earthquake sequence in southern Haiti

July 12, 2022

The grave threat posed by the Enriquillo‐Plantain Garden fault zone (EPGFZ) and other fault systems on the Tiburon Peninsula in southern Haiti was highlighted by the catastrophic M 7.0 Léogâne earthquake on 12 January 2010 and again by the deadly M 7.2 Nippes earthquakes on 14 August 2021. Early Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar observations suggest the 2021 earthquake broke structures associated with this fault system farther west of the 2010 event, but the rupture zones of both events are separated by a ∼50 km gap. This sequence provided the impetus to reconsider a nineteenth century earthquake that may have occurred within this gap. Though previous studies identified a single moderately large event on 8 April 1860, original sources describe a complex and distributed seismic sequence to the west of Port‐au‐Prince. These provide evidence for an initial event to the west of Les Cayes, on the southern coast of the Tiburon Peninsula. This was followed on the morning of 8 April 1860 by a damaging earthquake near l’Anse‐à‐Veau along the northern coast of the peninsula, which was succeeded 14 hr later by a larger mainshock to the east. Although locations cannot be determined precisely from extant macroseismic data, our preferred scenario includes an intensity magnitude (MI)∼6.2">(MI)∼6.2(MI)∼6.2 foreshock, followed by an MI∼6.8">MI∼6.8MI∼6.8 mainshock wholly or partially on the EPGFZ to the east of the foreshock. Our results suggest that, although earthquakes tend to trigger subsequent earthquakes on immediately neighboring fault segments, sequences can include gaps due to strain release by poorly characterized earthquakes in the historic past. We also document 83 aftershocks to the 1860 earthquake sequence, including a previously unknown damaging shock, estimated MI∼6.6">MI∼6.6MI∼6.6⁠, on 10 April 1860 near Jérémie, farther west of l’Anse‐à‐Veau.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title The 8 April 1860 Jour de Pâques earthquake sequence in southern Haiti
DOI 10.1785/0120220016
Authors Stacey Martin, Susan E. Hough
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Index ID 70236292
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earthquake Science Center