Wednesday , February 1 2023

Seismological monitoring on Saba improved by KNMI

The Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute (KNMI) in The Netherlands has been working to improve the seismological monitoring on Saba. In the past few months, four seismometers were installed and will be used for monitoring and interpretation of seismic activity on the island. This information is particularly useful considering the island’s potential for volcanic activity.

Previously the island had one monitoring station located in St. Johns; this was sent to the manufacturer in the United States for repairs in 2013. This station is operational once again, and there are three additional monitoring stations located in The Bottom, Windwardside and Zion’s Hill. With the support of local telephone company, Satel, these have all been located at their facilities.

The seismometer located in The Bottom (Photo GIS Saba)
The seismometer located in The Bottom
(Photo GIS Saba)

Increasing the number of sites allows for more accurate monitoring and assessment. The seismometers are not only there to monitor earthquakes that can be perceived by humans but also earthquakes that are so low in magnitude they can only be detected by the equipment. A sufficient number of these low magnitude localized earthquakes may signal increased volcanic activity. The information generated from the equipment is now collected in The Netherlands at regular intervals. Data from seismometers can be viewed live on the website of the KNMI at this link:

The next phase of monitoring will be so called “proactive monitoring”, this is where additional seismometers will be installed and provide automatic reports of any seismic activity. There are also plans being made to install GPS equipment that will measure expansion or contraction of the earth, which also gives indication of volcanic activity. Once a suitable location is determined this equipment can be installed.

In June while Marines of the Royal Dutch Navy were here, they cleared a trail to the area of the island where there are hot springs. This will make it easier to access the water there to take temperature readings of the water as well as to collect water samples to analyze the chemical composition.

The Executive Council stated that “We are pleased to see monitoring of seismic activity on the island is improving. With this improved monitoring, we can keep the residents on the island informed if there are any signs of volcanic activity. We will continue to work with the National Government to upgrade the monitoring infrastructure on the island.”

Press release GIS Saba


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