Trouble in Paradise

While finishing up some calculations with Estelle, I received a call from Eric, who is working in the region near PAP. He was in a panic. Sarah and Andy had returned to check on one of their receivers in the northern region of Haiti and found that the while the receiver was still on and tracking satellites, it was not recording data. They checked another site and again found the same problem. Eric has also checked one of his sites and reported that it too had failed to record data. He concluded that there was some sort of global programming error in the BoM Lab in PAP prior to our deployment on Sunday.

I scrambled the troupes and we left within about 10 minutes to head to our closest site, CAYE, at the regional airport near Les Cayes, where we had installed a RSMAS receiver. When we arrived we found the same problem. I examined the configuration with Estelle, and frankly it was unclear to me what might have gone wrong with the revised session programming. I called Jim Normandeau at UNAVCO for assistance. He told me that all the UNAVCO receivers were pre-programmed at the Facility for repeating 24 hr sessions to begin at UTC midnight. He also told me that we needed to the Trimble Configuration Toolbox software to upload, download, and edit configuration files. He talked us through creating, saving, and uploading a new file. We tested that it would restart, by doing a forced power failure. It seemed to work.

We left Les Cayes for Aquin, where there was a UNAVCO receiver, just as the sun was setting. Same situation, same fix. We departed AQIN at about 8:30 PM and headed back toward Port Salut, with the plan to reset the receiver at Cavaillon enroute. While this is a more difficult site to access than AQIN, being atop a 2.5 story school, we managed to get the problems sorted out in about 20 m with only the light from a clear starlight sky and a couple of flashlights. We had called ahead to make sure the caretaker could meet us at the gate. I am absolutely amazed at how cooperative everyone is here. I have done fieldwork all over the Caribbean, including several GPS campaigns during major crisis mode in Montserrat, and yet I have never had such a great experience with the local people helping out, patiently watching what we were doing, and welcoming us onto their property without a major hassle. The people of Haiti have welcomed us with open arms.

Departed CAVA around 9:30 PM and finally made it back to the hotel at 10:45 PM. We had called ahead to order dinner, so the restaurant staff was waiting for us. We had a great local stew with rice. A couple of very cold Prestige beers, shower, and bed. We were all worn out. Estelle, Frantz and Herbert arose at at daybreak to go to Tiburon to reset the receiver there. I stayed at the hotel to sleep a bit more and catch up with my log and to finish the analysis of the surface rupture features, we had started yesterday AM.

Were are now back on track, and despite our initial snafu with the receiver programming, I am still confident that will be able to collect all the GPS data within the planned time for this campaign.

Glen and Estelle

Estelle, Herbert, and Frantz doing some analysis in Port Salut

Problems with session programming on CAYE GPS receiver



  1. CHAUSSARD Said:

    espérons que les gps fonctionnent enfin

  2. Gene Said:

    Can I volunteer gentlemen, i like what you are doing but probably I
    am too old, 53. I am interested in learning it. I can at least be a technician.
    Thank you for what you are doing for my country. I love you all.
    Question: When energy is building up when the earthquake can happen.
    Knocking down a mountain, can that cause or built energy for an earthquake or storm to a nearby town.
    Send me a message about my hometown Fort-Liberte,North East.
    My name is Eugene. Organisation: ADFE

    • haitigps Said:


      Thank you for your offer of help. We appreciate how all the people of Haiti have been so open to our work and so interested in the results. Prof. Calais and Mlle. Estelle Chaussard have both given extensive interviews to the local press in French to better inform the people of Haiti about what we know about the seismic hazard here. The mountains of Haiti have taken a very long time “to grow” to their current height. Earthquakes are part of the process which both causes the mountains to rise, and the shaking can also cause significant erosion in some places by producing landslides, etc.

      I hope this answers your question.


  3. Norman Freed Said:

    Can you include a sketch or map to indicate where you are, where you were, and where you plan to be, in order for us to follow your progress more closely? Hope your equipment is now functioning properly.

    • haitigps Said:


      Have you tried to follow our route on Google Earth? I will see if we can put together a rough map to post tomorrow.


{ RSS feed for comments on this post} · { TrackBack URI }

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: