INDIANAPOLIS – Scientists who detected worrisome signs of growing stresses in the fault that unleashed this week's devastating earthquake in Haiti said they warned officials there two years ago that their country was ripe for a major earthquake.
Their sobering findings, presented during a geological conference in March 2008 and at meetings two months later, showed that the fault was capable of causing a 7.2-magnitude earthquake — slightly stronger than Tuesday's 7.0 quake that rocked the impoverished country.
Though Haitian officials listened intently to the research, the nearly two years between the presentation and the devastating quake was not enough time for Haiti to have done much to have prevented the massive destruction.
"It's too short of a timeframe to really do something, particularly for a country like Haiti, but even in a developed country it's very difficult to start very big operations in two years," Eric Calais, a professor of geophysics at Purdue University, said Thursday.
Their conclusions also lacked a specific timeframe that could have prodded quick action to shore up the hospitals, schools and other buildings that collapsed and crumbled, said Paul Mann, a senior research scientist at the University of Texas' Institute for Geophysics...