Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project
Implemented by the Organization of American States
Unit of Sustainable Development and Environment
for the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the Caribbean Regional Program


CDMP Progress Bulletin

Kingston Multi-hazard Assessment

Bulletin Date: November 1999

CDMP undertook a multi-hazard assessment project in the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA) in Jamaica from 1996-1998. The objective of this assessment was to compile accurate information on natural hazards affecting Kingston, for use in developing strategies to mitigate the effects of those hazards. In this assessment, susceptibility to seismic, landslide, and coastal storm surge and wind hazards were documented through a map series and accompanying reports. The Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA), Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), the Mines and Geology Division and the Land Information Council served as the lead government agencies for this activity. The Geography/Geology Department and the Earthquake Unit of the University of the West Indies played significant roles in this hazard assessment.

Seismic Hazard Assessment

CDMP contracted the Earthquake Unit at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus, to produce a seismic hazard assessment for the Kingston Metropolitan Area. This project comprises two phases, a data collection phase and a modeling phase. Phase I of the seismic hazard assessment was completed in the fall of 1997; Phase II was complete in fall 1999.

Products of the first phase include an updated earthquake catalog, a preliminary seismic attenuation model and a geologic map series, composed of a digital terrain model and maps of surface geology, depth to bedrock and groundwater. A bibliography of literature related to attenuation models, seismo-tectonic models, stress maps and computer models for calculation of ground motion was produced during phase I of the project. During phase II, data gaps which were identified were filled and a final probabilistic ground motion model for Kingston was developed.

During the week of 8 June 1998, a team composed of researchers from the US National Ocean Survey, the Earthquake Unit of the University of the West Indies Mona Campus, the Jamaica Mining and Geology Division and the CDMP undertook a Gravity/GPS survey of the Kingston Metropolitan Area. The purpose of this survey was to clarify the depth to bedrock underlying Kingston, for use in modeling seismic hazards in the Kingston metropolitan area.

The Final Report of the Kingston Metropolitan Area Seismic Hazard Assessment was completed in the fall of 1999 and provided to the Government of Jamaica, through the ODPEM. A map of modified strong ground motion for the Kingston metropolitan area was produced under this study.

Landslide Hazard Assessment

CDMP has contracted the Unit for Disaster Studies, housed in the Geology Department of the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, to compile a map of landslide susceptibility in the Kingston Metropolitan Area. As a basis for the landslide susceptibility map, maps of geology, slope categories, hydrology and a historical landslide inventory were developed. These factors were combined and analyzed using a geographic information system (GIS) to produce the final landslide susceptibility maps. The modeling results and maps were presented at a technical workshop at the Unit for Disaster Studies on 14 February 1998.

To promote the use of the landslide hazard maps and information, a number of supporting documents were developed. These include a technical report on the landslide mapping component of the project and guidelines on the use of the hazard maps. These documents were used as background material for a second workshop, held in January 1999. This workshop targeted the various interest groups who are the potential users of landslide data and hazard maps. The purpose of this interactive workshop was to demonstrate to all concerned the magnitude of landslides and related problems in the Kingston area, how they affect the society both directly and indirectly, the constraints on land use, the benefits of mitigation, and how to avoid/reduce present and future landslides. The workshop notice and invitation, programme, participant list, field guide and final report are available for review. Other documents that resulted from the workshop include:

Digital versions of the final landslide susceptibility maps are also available for review. Further information on the KMA landslide hazard assessment is available from Rafi Ahmad of the Unit for Disaster Studies at UWI-Mona (

Coastal Storm Surge and Wind Hazard Assessment

The coastal storm surge and wind hazard components of the Kingston multi-hazard assessment were produced using the TAOS storm hazard model. For these model runs, CDMP developed a bathymetric and topographic database for the Kingston harbor and metropolitan area at a resolution of 6 arc-seconds, based on information provided by the Jamaica Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA).  A statistical approach to storm impact estimation, first used for the Montego Bay Coastal Hazard Assessment, was used to develop a database of storm surge levels for various return periods (e.g. 25-, 50- and 100-year returns). The NRCA then developed maps of the Kingston area using this database. The final report on the KMA coastal hazard assessment and the regional storm hazard database (developed in conjunction with the KMA study) is available for review. More information on the TAOS model is available under the Storm Hazard Modeling section of the CDMP web site.

Jamaica Mitigation Week Activities, 21-24 June 1999

June is Disaster Preparedness month in Jamaica. In 1999, the final week of June was designated Disaster Mitigation Week. During this week, the CDMP organized final presentations for each of the KMA multi-hazard assessment components and ODPEM coordinated a half-day workshop on a plan for comprehensive natural hazard mitigation in Jamaica. The recommendations from this workshop are being incorporated into the Jamaican National Hazard Mitigation Policy. The draft version of this policy is currently under review.

Kingston Multi-hazard Mapping/Implementation

As part of the final work on this project, a common database of base and hazards information is being compiled in a geographic information system (GIS). All map information created under this project will be in a GIS-compatible format, which will facilitate the creation of the GIS database. Geographic features such as shorelines, rivers, roads and elevation will also be included in this information for reference and mapping.

In the National Land Policy of Jamaica (July 1996), the maps and information produced under the Kingston multi-hazard assessment are explicitly referenced in Section 7.5.3 'Implementation (Strategies, Programmes and Projects)'.

Links to all reports, available electronic versions of maps and data produced as part of the Kingston multi-hazard assessment are available on the Kingston Multi-hazard Assessment web site.

CDMP home page: Project Contacts Page Last Updated: 20 April 2001