Estelle, Glen, Frantz, and Herbert (our driver) departed from the BoM facility, where we had stayed in Delmas on Sunday morning, January 31st about 10:30 AM. Leaving town, we again passed along the main road of Delmas and down into the low lying region of PAP by the central market and the government offices. Nothing much had changed: still no evidence of a broad scale effort to distribute international aid. We have a slightly banged up Toyota HiLux 4×4 extended cab pickup. These are great field vehicles and the preferred truck when we work in Nicaragua. Our A/C works reasonably well and that is really a blessing, given that we will make some very long and dusty treks before we get back to PAP. Our driver is Herbert Jean Amboise. We stopped near the BNP building and our BoM technician, Frantz Saint Preux, who speaks French, Creole, a bit of Spanish, and a few words of English, negotiated with a guy on the street to change $200 US to $7600 Gourdes for each of us. Then we were off to points south and west of PAP.
Our route passed through Carrefour and other towns along the main EW highway on the southern side of the Bay of PAP toward Leogane. While the structures are lower, mostly 1 to 2 stories, and farther apart, there is an enormous number of them that are badly damaged or completely destroyed. We found three areas of substantial cracks in the road along this route.
As we continued on, we also found a very significant zone of uplift in the roadbed and underlying sediments south of Leogane, with cracks in the tar indicating transpressional motion. The orientation of the uplift axis was essentially EW. Our closest GPS monument is adjacent to the same road on the roof of the police station in the next village south, called Carrefour Dufort. It was quite clear that this structure was a few km north of the main geomorphic valley of the EPGF.
We continued farther south and climbed into the mountains. We saw several other major cracks in the roadbed. Again, the overall trend of the structures was ~EW. In order to assure that we could get at least three sites in today, we weren’t able to spend much time measuring or analyzing the area. Estelle took some quick notes and off we went to Aquin to install our first GPS site, which is on the roof of a small local hospital. The grounds were in top condition and we were introduced to the Head Mistress, who spoke Spanish, and encouraged us in our work and thanked us for coming to Haiti to help after the earthquake. Estelle and Frantz setup the one UNAVCO kit without much trouble using an 18 cm spike mount.
I recalled the 1999 DR campaign, was when I was first introduced to the extensive usage of rooftop GPS sites. At that time, we were always scrambling to find a ladder in addition to getting permission to access the site and install the gear. The AQIN site was up and running at ~3:15 PM EST. It is so much easier to do this work when you have a local person with you like Frantz, and you carry your own ladder on the top of the truck.
On to Cavaillon. The road and trip from Aquin to Cavaillon was relatively quick and easy. The site is located on top of a private school called the College Notre Dame, which is adjacent to the Digicel cellular tower. We had to wait for a few minutes for the groundskeeper to arrive with the key to let us in. The site is on the top of a 2.5 story structure and it required us to climb to the roof of the first floor, then pull the ladder up after in order to climb to the roof. I am glad that we have Frantz with us because he is quite strong and able. I really don’t have to do all that much, except to instruct and inspect. Good duty not having to hump batteries or the ladder. We installed our first of the three RSMAS GPS kits here using a 0.5 m spike mount. I showed Estelle and Frantz how to setup and level the spike mount quickly. Estelle and Frantz claimed to have felt a small earthquake, but I didn’t notice. We corrected the site map provided by Eric, took some photos, and departed quickly to Les Cayes, in the hope of getting the final site of the day in before dark.
The site in Les Cayes is located at the regional airport, which is several km NW of the main city. We arrived at 5:15 PM to find that the airport was under UN control. The local caretaker arrived a few minutes later, and ushered us in quickly, despite the UN soldiers acting like we were some sort of security breech. The facility also has a local fire station, and the overall sense was that the airport and the fire station were in top condition and well run.
Off to Les Cayes to find a place to stay. We ended up at the Hotel Meridien – not like the Le Meridien Montparnasse in Paris! Rooms were adequate, with private baths, and A/C, but very rudimentary, for sure. The building is a 3-story structure, and I was worried that it may have sustained some damage during the Jan. 12th event. I my opinion, it would not stay standing with peak GA of >0.2 g, given what I saw in PAP over the past few days.
Overall, our first full day of field work was a success.
Estelle and Glen