CARIBE WAVE – Tsunami Scenarios

CARIBE WAVE is a Caribbean-wide tsunami exercise led the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC). This event is coordinated with several agencies across the Western Hemisphere including:

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • The Caribbean regional emergency management stakeholders:
    • CEPREDENAC – Coordination Centre for the Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America
    • CDEMA – Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency
    • EMIZA – French Inter-Ministerial for the Antilles Estate Major Zone.
  • Tsunami Warning Focal Points (TWFP’s) and/or National Tsunami Warning Centers (NTWC’s) and/or Tsunami Advisors – Governmental-appointed organizations to receive tsunami threat messages such as (but not limited to) disaster management offices, meteorological offices and seismic monitoring organizations.

For Trinidad and Tobago, as of 2007 the following appointments and designations were made:

  • National Tsunami Warning Center: Office of Disaster Preparedness & Management of Trinidad and Tobago (ODPM)
    • Determines and issues tsunami advisories, watches, warnings, emergencies and cancellations for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, based on guidance from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and U.W.I. Seismic Research Centre.
  • Tsunami Warning Focal Point: Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (TTMS)
    • The Tsunami Warning Focal Point (TWFP) is a 24 x 7 point of contact (office, operational unit or position, not a person) officially designated by the National Tsunami Warning Centre (NTWC) or the government to receive and disseminate tsunami information from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (in Trinidad and Tobago) according to established National Standard Operating Procedures.
    • The role of the TWFP (for Trinidad and Tobago) is summarised as follows:
      • Reception of the messages transmitted by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center
      • Evaluate and issue national warnings in accordance with the National Emergency Plan
      • Transmission of warning messages to the National Emergency Authorities
      • Operating 24/7
  • Tsunami National Contact: Office of Disaster Preparedness & Management of Trinidad and Tobago (ODPM) CEO
  • Tsunami National Contact Alternates: Office of Disaster Preparedness & Management of Trinidad and Tobago (ODPM) Mitigation Manager and Regional Coordinator
    • The person designated by the country’s government to represent his/her country in the coordination of international tsunami warning and mitigation activities. The person is part of the main stakeholders of the national tsunami warning and mitigation system programme. In the Caribbean and adjacent Regions this focal point also act as the focal point for other coastal hazards. This person may be the same as the TWFP.
  • Tsunami Advisor: U.W.I. Seismic Research Centre
    • Person, Committee or Agency managing Tsunami mitigation

For all other countries, you can view the database of contacts and organizations responsible for handling tsunami threats from the IOC here.

CARIBE WAVE has been occurring throughout the Caribbean region since 2009. Initially, from 2009 to 2013 under the name LANTEX (Large Atlantic Tsunami Exercise); and in 2012, 2014 and 2015 under the name of CARIBEWAVE/LANTEX Joint Exercise (Caribbean and Northwestern Atlantic Tsunami Exercise). Since 2016, this exercise has been carried out annually under the name CARIBE WAVE (Caribbean Tsunami Warning Exercise).

Note: LANTEX still occurs, but only the United States (Gulf Coast, Atlantic Coasts, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and Canada’s Atlantic Coasts are involved.

What is the purpose of CARIBE WAVE?

The purpose of the CARIBE WAVE exercise is to improve the effectiveness of the Tsunami Warning System along the Caribbean region.  The exercise provides an opportunity for emergency management organizations throughout the region to test their operational lines of communications, review their tsunami response procedures, and to promote tsunami preparedness.  Regular exercises to test the response plans are essential to maintain adequate emergency preparedness. This is particularly true for the Caribbean, where tsunamis are rare, but can have a very high impact.

The objectives of the CARIBE WAVE Exercise are to test and evaluate the operations of the Caribbean Tsunami Warning System (Caribe EWS), to validate preparedness response to a tsunamis (which are test protocols and communications systems between tsunami warning centers and the tsunami warning focal points), and the use of the PTWC (Pacific Tsunami Warning Center) tsunami products  for the Caribbean, as well as assist in tsunami preparedness efforts of the emergency management agencies in those areas.

Tsunami History of the Caribbean

Caribbean Tsunami Events since 2000 B.C. through February 2018. Note that the Mt. 6.9 (Mw 7.3) NE Venezuela Earthquake on August 21st 2018 did not produce a tsunami. Data:
National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI)’s Global Historical Tsunami Database.

Recent tsunamis, such as those in the Indian Ocean (2004, 2018), Samoa (2009), Haiti (2010), Japan (2011) and Chile (2010, 2014, 2015), Honduras and Sulawesi (2018)  attest to the importance of tsunami response proper planning. Although most tsunamis are generated by earthquakes, they may also be caused by submarines landslides, volcanic eruptions or impacts of celestial bodies.  

According to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) over 105 tsunamis have been observed in the Caribbean over the past 500 years.  Approximately, 4,500 people have lost their lives because of the tsunamis in the Caribbean.  In addition to tsunamis, the region also has a long history of destructive earthquakes. Within the region there are multiple fault segments and submarine features that could be the source of earthquake and landslide generated tsunamis.  

The perimeter of the Caribbean plate is bordered by no fewer than four major plates (North America, South America, Nazca, and Cocos). Subduction occurs along the eastern and northeastern Atlantic margins of the Caribbean plate. Normal, transform and strike slip faulting characterize northern South America, eastern Central America, the Cayman Ridge and Trench and the northern plate boundary (Benz et al, 2011).

In addition to the local and regional sources, the region is also threatened by far field tsunamis/Trans-Atlantic tsunamis. An example would be the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake.  Six confirmed volcano tsunami source events and two landslides generated from volcanoes have affected the Caribbean and adjacent regions (ITIC and NCEI, 2018). For this reason, it will be tested for the first time a volcanic scenario for the 2019 exercise, using the Kick ’em Jenny Volcano as example.

With nearly 160 million people (Caribbean, Central America and Northern South America) now living in this region and a major earthquake occurring about every 50 years, the question is not if another major tsunami will happen, but when it happens will the region be prepared for the tsunami impact. The risks of major earthquakes in the Caribbean, and the possibility of a resulting tsunami, are real and should be taken seriously.


Locations of the epicenter of some of the tsunamigenic events used for CARIBE WAVE/LANTEX scenarios since 2009. Credit: URPM

These exercises have been occurring since 2009, and continue through 2019.

March 26, 2019LANTEX 19
An Atlantic tsunami warning exercise
8.5 (Earthquake)North of Hispaniola
Location: 19.21N 68.73W
Depth: 22 KM
March 14, 2019CARIBE WAVE 19
A Caribbean and Adjacent Regions Tsunami Warning Exercise
6.0 (Volcanic Eruption)Kick 'em Jenny submarine volcano (Windward Islands)
Location: 12.3N 61.6W
Depth: 10 KM
8.5 (Earthquake)North of Panama
Location: 10.0N 78.5W
Depth: 25 KM
March 21, 2018LANTEX 18
An Atlantic tsunami warning exercise
7.5 (Landslide)Southeast of Boston, Massachusetts
Location: 40.0N 70.0W
Depth: 7 KM
March 15, 2018CARIBE WAVE 18
A Caribbean and Adjacent Regions Tsunami Warning Exercise
8.6 (Earthquake)Barbados
Location: 12.20N 58.30W
Depth: 15 KM
8.1 (Earthquake)Colombia (Caribbean Sea)
Location: 11.5N 74.8W
Depth: 15 KM
7.6 (Earthquake)Puerto Rico (Caribbean Sea, 1918 event)
Location: 18.3N 67.8W
Depth: 10 KM
March 22, 2017LANTEX 17
An Eastern Atlantic Tsunami Warning Exercise
8.8 (Earthquake)West-southwest of Lisbon, Portugal
Location: 36.0N 15W
Depth: 15 KM
March 21, 2017CARIBE WAVE 17
A Caribbean and Adjacent Regions Tsunami Warning Exercise
7.9 (Earthquake)Costa Rica (Caribbean Sea)
Location: 9.37N 82.54W
Depth: 19 KM
8.2 (Earthquake)Cuba (Caribbean Sea)
Location: 19.625N 76.35W
Depth: 20 KM
8.5 (Earthquake)Northern Antilles (Atlantic Ocean)
Location: 16.96N 60.69W
Depth: 10 KM
March 17, 2016CARIBE WAVE 16
A Caribbean and Adjacent Regions Tsunami Warning Exercise
8.4 (Earthquake)Venezuela (Caribbean Sea)
Location: 10.8N 66.0W
Depth: 15 KM
8.7 (Earthquake)Northern Hispaniola
Location: 20.2N 71.7W
Depth: 20 KM
March 16, 2016LANTEX 16
A Western Atlantic Tsunami Warning Exercise
6.8 (Landslide)East of Boston, Massachusetts
Location: 42.7N 63.2W
Depth: 5 KM
March 25, 2015CARIBE WAVE 15
A Caribbean Tsunami Warning Exercise
8.5 (Earthquake)North of Panama (Caribbean Sea)
Location: 10.3N 78.8W
Depth: 15 KM
March 25, 2015LANTEX 15
A Western Atlantic Tsunami Warning Exercise
6.8 (Landslide)East of Port Canaveral, Florida
Location: 28.8N 77.0W
Depth: 5 KM
March 26, 2014CARIBE WAVE 14
A Caribbean and Northwestern Atlantic Tsunami Warning Exercise
8.5 (Earthquake)West of Portugal (1755 event)
Location: 36.04N 10.75W
Depth: 5 KM
March 26, 2014LANTEX 14
A Gulf of Mexico Tsunami Warning Exercise
6.6 (Landslide)Southwest of New Orleans, Louisiana (Mississippi Canyon)
Location: 27.49N 91.29W
Depth: 5 KM
March 20, 2013CARIBE WAVE/LANTEX 13
A Caribbean Tsunami Warning Exercise
8.5 (Earthquake)North of Oranjestad, Aruba
Location: 13.35N 69.95W
Depth: 10 KM
March 28, 2012LANTEX 12
An Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico Tsunami Warning Exercise
6.7 (Landslide)Northwest of Key West, Florida
Location: 25.6N, 84.6W
Depth: 10 KM
7.7 (Landslide)Southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Location: 32.0N, 78.0W
Depth: 10 KM
March 23, 2011CARIBE WAVE/LANTEX 11
A Caribbean Tsunami Warning Exercise
7.6/7.6 (Double Earthquake)Virgin Islands Trough (1867 event)
Location: 18.21N, 65.26 & 18.36N, 64.73W
Depth: 7 KM
March 24, 2010LANTEX 10
An Atlantic Tsunami Warning Exercise
7.5 (Landslide)Southeast of Boston
Location: 40.0N 70.0W
Depth: 7 KM
April 2, 2009LANTEX 09
A Northwest-Atlantic Tsunami Warning Exercise
8.6 (Earthquake)North of Puerto Rico
Location: 19.0N and 65.0W
Depth: 5 KM

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