278 18 JULY 2014 • VOL 345 ISSUE 6194 sciencemag.org SCIENCE
Partnering with Cuba:
WE SUPPORT THE RECENT Editorial on
“Science diplomacy with Cuba” (G. R. Fink,
A. I. Leshner, V. C. Turekian, 6 June, p.
1065). Many groups in the United States
seek greater cooperation with Cuba in
the earth sciences. Similar to the disease
mitigation discussed in the Editorial, there
is a long history of scientific advances that
could save lives and reduce losses with
Cuban scientists did forecast the severity
of the 1900 Galveston hurricane and could
have helped the nascent U.S. Weather
Bureau in Galveston mitigate fatalities and
losses (1). More recently, after the devas-
tating 2010 Mw7.0 Haiti earthquake, the
National Science Foundation supported
the development of the Continuously
Operating Caribbean Global Positioning
System (GPS) Observational Network
(COCONet) (2), a GPS and meteorological
network in the circum-Caribbean designed
to help understand tectonic and weather
extremes in a complex geologic and
atmospheric region. Partially facilitated by
a previous AAAS delegation visit to Cuba
in December 2011, a new GPS station was
recently installed in Camagüey, Cuba, and
is a critical component of COCONet. More
broadly, COCONet involves more than 38
nations and everyone benefits from inter-
national cooperation and diplomacy that
revolve around research, education, and
broader impacts such as risk resiliency and
enhancing the quality of life.
We encourage easing restrictions so that
government science agencies may cooper-
ate more fully on science and education.
For example, the Cuban Meteorological
Institute, Cuban Nuclear Agency, the
National Seismological Center, and the
Astronomical and Geophysical Institute
could then cooperate with their U.S. coun-
terparts on natural hazards research.
Juan Carlos Antuña Marrero,1 M.
Meghan Miller,2 Glen Mattioli,2 Karl
Feaux,2 Richard Anthes,3 John Braun,3
Guoquan Wang,4 Alan Robock5
1Grupo de Óptica Atmosférica de Camagüey,
Centro Meteorológico de Camagüey, Instituto
de Meteorología de la República de Cuba, Cuba.
2UNAVCO, Boulder, CO 80301, USA. 3University
Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO
80305, USA. 4Department of Earth and Atmospheric
Sciences, University of Houston, TX 77004, USA.
5Department of Environmental Sciences, Rutgers
University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA.
*Corresponding author. E-mail: email@example.com
1. N. C. Green, Story of the 1900 Galveston Hurricane
(Pelican Publishing Company, Gretna, LA, 1999).
2. J. J. Braun et al ., EOS Trans. Am. Geophys. Union 93, 9
Partnering with Cuba:
THE 6 JUNE EDITORIAL BY G. R. Fink,
A. I. Leshner, and V. C. Turekian advocates
“Science diplomacy with Cuba” (p. 1065).
I agree. Both countries could benefit from
a joint evaluation of earthquake hazards in
The cities of Santiago de Cuba and
Guantánamo, including the U.S. base and
prison, are close to the offshore, seismically active Oriente plate-boundary fault
(1), but the earthquake danger from this
fault has not been studied. The fault
occupies the narrow Oriente Deep (1,
2) and skims the northern boundary of
Haiti into the Dominican Republic, where
paleoseismic analysis of the Septentrional
fault shows evidence of earthquakes and
a slip rate of 6 to 12 mm/year (3). This is
about half of the total slip rate between the
North American and Caribbean plates and
serves as a proxy for the slip rate estimated
for the Oriente fault off the coast of Cuba.
No historical earthquake has ruptured the
Oriente fault, indicating that the fault may
be in a seismic gap. The United States has
the expertise to help Cuba respond to its
earthquake hazard by upgrading their seismic and global positioning system (GPS)
networks, conducting paleoseismic studies
along the coast to learn the earthquake
history of the Oriente fault, and upgrading buildings at risk from an Oriente fault
Robert S. Yeats
College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences,
Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.
1. R. S. Yeats, Active Faults of the World (Cambridge Univ.
Press, Cambridge, 2012).
2. E. Calais et al ., Geol. Soc. Am. Spec. Pap. 326, 125 (1998).
3. C. S. Prentice et al., J. Geophys. Res. 103. 2149 (2003).
Delisted whales good
news for pipeline
ON EARTH DAY (22 APRIL), the Canadian
government removed the North Pacific
humpback whale, which lives off British
Columbia’s coast, from the list of threatened
species (1, 2). The delisting was based on
sound scientific advice by the Committee
on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in
Canada (COSEWIC) (3, 4), but the downgrading from threatened to a species of
special concern occurred just before the federal decision to approve the development of
the Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline
mega-project in the humpbacks’ habitat in
the summer of 2014 (1, 2, 5). The delisting
from threatened status raised concerns
among environmental groups (4, 5), who
viewed it as a fast-tracked political decision driven by economic factors (1, 2). The
decision has implications for the whales’
critical habitat, which does not have to be
protected once the species is downlisted,
and questions linger about whether whale
Edited by Jennifer Sills