Today we picked up instruments in Mole St. Nicholas, Jean Rabel, and Port-de-Paix along the north coast and headed south to reoccupy our sites in Gros Morne, Gonaives, and Desdune, where now-resolved software issues prevented the recording of sufficient data last week. We are staying in Gonaives, a bustling, industrial, dusty town on the central west coast. No camping on the beach here. We had a nice chat with a platoon of UN soldiers from Argentina who have been in this town for ~6 months and seem homesick. Our conversation was limited by our inability to speak Spanish and their inability to speak English, but we communicated well enough.
Several people have asked us about why we install our GPS receivers on buildings, which are likely to move with respect to the surface, especially in an earthquake. While this is true, our pressing concern in Haiti is security. In general, we find that buildings are sufficiently sturdy to not add too much noise to our data. And while buildings near the Jan 12 epicenter that survived may have deformed, the amount the crust beneath them moved during the earthquake is usually large enough that the earthquake offset was probably much larger than any building deformation.
Most of the roofs we use were chosen because of safety for the GPS equipment, which is left unoccupied for several days. Putting a GPS station on police station roof generally brings a decent level of security, though in some places we hire security anyway. In this religious country, the roof of a priest’s house or mission is even more secure. But nothing adds to security like a roof that is difficult to access and requires a ladder. It has been amusing to see how fast our Haitian colleague Macly can locate a ladder in a town he has never even visited before. In Gros Morne Macly has found us 4 different ladders in 4 different visits, never taking more than 10 minutes to succeed. When we say that our Haitian GPS campaign cannot be accomplished without great cooperation from both our colleagues and each town’s inhabitant, the importance of securing a ladder is not to be underestimated. Below is a photo expose of some of the ladders and other obstacles we must conquer to conduct a GPS campaign in Haiti.
Andy and Sarah