The Haiti subsurface imaging project: Helping build Haiti's geoscience capability and searching for the 2010 earthquake fault

Geoscientists Without Borders
Earthquake Preparedness Projects

University of Houston professors, Haitian colleagues, an international team of geoscientists, and groups of students, are conducting geophysical surveys to find and understand the blind faults that are thought to have given rise to the recent devastating earthquake.

Haiti's human and technical needs are enormous, and field geophysics is an ideal way to introduce students to advanced technology while striving to mitigate real problems. Haiti's subsurface structure and associated hazards are not well understood.

Status Complete

Statement of Work

The project team will conduct three phases of geophysical surveys and educational collaboration in Haiti. The first phase completed in 2012 –Testing around the Léogâne area. These tests included several 1 km gravity transects, two 1 km seismic lines (accelerated weight drop and 72-channel recorder), all accompanied by GPS and total station mapping.

The second phase involves more detailed and deeper penetrating seismic surveys. This phase ended up with over 4km seismic and gravity line, several velocity and density measurements at the laboratory for the collected rock samples and 5 km to 10km long chirp imaging over the lake. All of these activities include personnel from the State University of Haiti and Bureau of Mines and Energy.

The third phase of the project involves an airgun survey with our 24-channel MicroEel streamer in addition to further vibroseis surveys. The array of geophysical equipment will include: a Scintrex CG-5 gravimeter, Geometrics 60-channel Stratavisor seismic recorder, Trimble GPS instrument, and Leica total station surveying unit. We are also planning to coordinate the last phase surveys with Dr. Robert Wiley (UH) for drilling a shallow water well (<600ft) and acquiring some well-log data.

Project team is currently finalizing the arrangements for the next round of surveys and waiting for wet season to pass. Planned surveys are conducting deeper seismic surveys (more receivers, longer lines and more deeply penetrating source) and further lake surveys with chirp, side-scan and boomer systems.

Haiti Bureau of Mines personal was successfully trained with the field data acquisition system and software. Among these personal a PhD candidate Sophia Ulysse received detailed instruction on seismic data processing. Data that was acquired during 2012 and 2013 surveys were shared with Bureau of Mines. Publications and presentations were also shared with local agencies for the review.


Project provided great chance for participants to get trained on state of the art seismic acquisition systems, land nodal systems. Some of the land nodal system can be donated to Bureau of Mines for the future practices and further training.

Employment of locals

During 2013 Léogâne surveys, for about 7 days, we have worked with 10 locals to help us during the data acquisition. A basic concept of seismic exploration was introduced to the workers and their families to highlight the importance of geoscience education.

With the initial training on seismic data acquisition and analysis, Bureau of Mines employees were introduced to applied geophysics. As we plan to donate more software and hardware system, we expect to see further investigation from the local agencies over different areas in the country.

Principal Investigator

Dr Robert Stewart, Dr Paul Mann – University of Houston  
GeoHazards International

Team members

University of Houston: Eray Kocel, Anoop William, Naila Dowla, Li Chang and Dr Nikolay Dayour
Chesapeake Energy: Nathan Babcock
WesternGeco: Soumya Roy
ExxonMobil: Craig Hyslop
University of Calgary: Professor Don Lawton
Southern Methodist University: Professor Matt Hornbach
State University of Haiti: Alexander von Lignau, Savannah Savary
Bureau des Mines et de L'Energie d'Haiti: Julon Pochette, Nicole Dieudonne, Sophia Ulysse

"I never knew this job could impact other people's lives so tremendously; I am very thankful to the GWB foundation for giving me this unique opportunity."
Eray Kocel

"It was a great experience to be the part of GWB to interact with local people in Haiti by conducting geophysical survey made this trip knowledgeable and joyful."
Li Chang

"I don't even know where to start, I am amazed to see this organization for helping to build a better future of my village and my country."
A local helper


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