Lessons for Remote Post-earthquake Reconnaissance from the 14 August 2021 Haiti Earthquake

Michael R. Z. Whitworth, Giorgia Giardina*, Camilla Penney, Luigi Di Sarno, Keith Adams, Tracy Kijewski-Correa, Jacob Black, Fatemeh Foroughnia, V. Macchiarulo, More Authors

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
42 Downloads (Pure)


On 14th August 2021, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck the Tiburon Peninsula in the Caribbean nation of Haiti, approximately 150 km west of the capital Port-au-Prince. Aftershocks up to moment magnitude 5.7 followed and over 1,000 landslides were triggered. These events led to over 2,000 fatalities, 15,000 injuries and more than 137,000 structural failures. The economic impact is of the order of US$1.6 billion. The on-going Covid pandemic and a complex political and security situation in Haiti meant that deploying earthquake engineers from the UK to assess structural damage and identify lessons for future building construction was impractical. Instead, the Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team (EEFIT) carried out a hybrid mission, modelled on the previous EEFIT Aegean Mission of 2020. The objectives were: to use open-source information, particularly remote sensing data such as InSAR and Optical/Multispectral imagery, to characterise the earthquake and associated hazards; to understand the observed strong ground motions and compare these to existing seismic codes; to undertake remote structural damage assessments, and to evaluate the applicability of the techniques used for future post-disaster assessments. Remote structural damage assessments were conducted in collaboration with the Structural Extreme Events Reconnaissance (StEER) team, who mobilised a group of local non-experts to rapidly record building damage. The EEFIT team undertook damage assessment for over 2,000 buildings comprising schools, hospitals, churches and housing to investigate the impact of the earthquake on building typologies in Haiti. This paper summarises the mission setup and findings, and discusses the benefits, and difficulties, encountered during this hybrid reconnaissance mission.
Original languageEnglish
Article number873212
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in Built Environment
Issue number2297-3362
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • remote reconnaissance
  • earthquake
  • building damage
  • remote sensing
  • landslides
  • data collection
  • InSAR
  • multispectral imagery


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