MORONI – Understanding patterns of geological activity is crucial for predicting volcanic eruptions and protecting communities from natural disasters. That is why the U.S. government, through the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), supports the Comorian government in predicting geological hazards that could threaten the people of Comoros.
USGS Africa and Middle East Science Advisor Jeff Doebrich and the U.S. Department of State’s Regional Environment Officer Johanna Fernando visited Comoros April 27-28 to strengthen geological cooperation between the United States and Comoros. They toured the Observatoire Volcanologique de Karthala (OVK), discussed opportunities for further cooperation with OVK leadership, and visited USGS-donated seismic monitoring sensors at the base of Mt. Karthala where they gained firsthand knowledge of the area’s unique geology and potential risks.
Doebrich and Fernando also visited the University of Comoros School of Geology to learn about the country’s investment in young geologists, geophysicists, and volcanologists. They met with representatives from the Comorian Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Environment and with the Comoros Geological Survey (Bureau Géologique des Comores) to discuss the importance of water issues and geological mapping, as well as the complex interactions among water, land use, and ecological health.
“This was a very productive visit to look at our current cooperation and the potential for future engagement with Comoros government agencies,” said Doebrich. “I look forward to further discussion about how the USGS can provide additional technical assistance.”
The USGS is committed to supporting OVK and the Comorian government to monitor geological activity and ensure the safety of its citizens. Earlier this year, the USGS donated nanometric seismometer equipment to OVK to help Comorian scientists better predict volcanic activities in country. This $22,000 donation builds upon a long relationship between OVK and USGS. In 2017, experts from the USGS’ Alaska Volcano Observatory installed four seismic stations on the slopes of Mt. Karthala to improve surveillance of the volcano. In 2014, a team from the USGS’s Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP) came to Comoros to assess a land slide in Anjouan. And in 2011 and 2012, OVK technicians participated in a volcano surveillance training organized by the VDAP in Hawaii.