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Marino Protti Exchanged Nicoyan Rocks for Polar Ice
• Interview with the scientist who predicted the earthquake of September 5

By Wilberth Villalobos Castrillo

In the country, many know him as the man with the beard and white mustache, who wears a beret and predicts earthquakes. In the canton of Nicoya specifically, he is known as the person who warned us about the coming of a major earthquake and who is currently being accused by the Nicoya Council of decrease tourism with his predictions.
The earthquake came and It was the 5th of September, 2012, only six months ago, and had a magnitude of 7.6 on the Richter scale. Now Protti has just returned from Antarctica as part of the Wissard project expedition, a multidisciplinary initiative that aims to study the subglacial Lake Whillans.

With a measured and gentle voice, Marino Protti gave VON a glimpse into his personal and professional lives.

Son of Robert Protti and Maria del Rosario Quesada, Jorge Marino was born in 1960 and grew up in the Corazón de Jesús neighborhood in Heredia, along with his five other siblings: María Auxiliadora, Roberto, Maurizio, Aldo and Javier. He joined the School of Geology at the University of Costa Rica where he graduated with a BA in Geology in 1983. A year later he obtained his postgraduate degree in Seismology in Tsukuka, Japan, in 1991 earned a Master’s degree in Earth Sciences from the University of California and in 1994 a Ph.D. in Earth Sciences and Geophysics.

For four years, 1984-1988, he was the first director of the Volcanic and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI). In 1989 he arrived in California, United States to continue his training and during that same year experienced the earthquake known as the Baseball World Series, with it’s  epicenter 10 kilometers from where he stood. Meanwhile, in those six years in North America, he met his current wife, Ann Marie, who was a fellow student and has a specialty in hydrogeology.

They have two daughters, Elizabeth and Donatella. When not working, Protti likes to be with his family, watch birds with his wife and occasionally play a pick up game of soccer.

VON: How did your love of geology begin in your childhood?

MP: In sixth grade I remember I did a project on the types of layers of the earth’s surface that really caught my attention and I remember it to this day. I also had a cousin who was also a geologist, and my brother, Roberto, studied geology too, so since my youth there was always a book on geology in the house.

VON: So you always wanted to be a geologist...

MP: No, not always, there was a time when I wanted to be a priest. In fact I had a friend who was a priest and several classmates and I entered the Seminary of Paso Ancho in 1978 to be priests of the Catholic Church, but I only stayed a year.

VON: Geology or Seismology?

MP: I did not like seismology. I started to like it when I went to Japan and got the degree. I had the great opportunity, upon my return to this country, to join the project that at that time was being initiated in the OVSICORI Research Institute.

VON: After such training and professional experience, what vision and objectives did you return to Costa Rica with?

MP: One comes with more horizons, projects and especially with colleagues as contacts at an international level. I think I was opportunistic when I returned to the Observatory because the fault was located beneath the Nicoya Peninsula and it was at the end of the seismic cycle. From there, with the help of Victor Gonzalez and funding from colleagues from other countries, we began to establish the National Seismological Network with global positioning devices (GPS).

VON: How do you define what has been happening from September 5 until now?

MP: It is an unusual earthquake. The earthquake keeps occurring in Nicoya. There was a partial rupture of the fault and every day it is still releasing energy, so we still don’t have concrete data. The reaction of the bedrock (ground type) on the peninsula has been very good and has prevented more severe damages.

VON: In one word, what is Antarctica?

MP: Impressive. It is the continent of research. My participation in the project was at the very end of Wissard. I arrived three days after the drilling in the subglacial Lake Whillians and my contribution was to install and maintain the equipment for measuring seismic activity.

VON: Was it the weather that was the most difficult to get used to?

MP: It wasn’t so hard for me to get used to the cold since within the premises there was heating and when I went outdoors I was always well clothed. What I missed the most was the darkness. At this time of year the sun never sets and when I slept there was always a ray of light or a lot of clarity. I remember when we camped in a cave we covered the entrance with ice blocks and even then the sunlight filtered through.

VON: And now, what are the objectives in the country?

MP: Keep working on the Nicoya Peninsula as well as the Osa Peninsula; we want to set up a seismological network similar to the one in Nicoya.


More Regional News

Guanacaste Reps and Presidential House Initiated Dialogue

“The balance sheet is positive… We’re leaving satisfied. This is only the beginning,” commented Wilmar Matarrita, member of the Guanacaste Struggle Front (Frente de Lucha Guanacasteco) who traveled with other members of the negotiating commission to look for urgent solutions for the province.

Nicoya and Samara Have Budgets Approved to Invest in Communities

The districts of Nicoya and Samara now have the amounts approved by the Municipal Council that correspond to the specific line items budget assignments for the 2012-2013 period, while Nosara will have to wait a few more weeks to know the final amount of its line item budget.

Opinion Column
A Bust for Orozco

Like the art of sculpting a bust, Costa Rica seems to be frozen in time. Some may think the country is extremely conservative and reactionary when compared to both neighboring and distant countries. Others might think the issue lies in its infrastructure, seeing that it took us 20 years to develop a simple coastal road, and in countless other topics.

Workshop about the Future of Water United Members of 11 ASADAS

Worried about the future of water in the Nicoya Peninsula, a group of 50 people met last Thursday, March 14, to visualize and evaluate the possible future scenarios in the area for the most vital liquid, as well as to define the principle actions to take for responsible management of hydraulic resources.

Guanacastecans and Government Will Meet To Seek Agreement

Under the threat of protest by different sectors in Guanacaste, the central government organized a roundtable to dialogue with members of the negotiating commission of the Frente de Lucha Guanacasteco (Front for the Guanacaste Struggle) for next Wednesday, March 20, in the Presidential House.

Strong Winds Expected

The National Meteorological Institute (Instituto Meteorológico Nacional - IMN) reported that a new cold front will move in on Thursday, March 14th. Although lower temperatures are not expected, strong winds will increase.

Public Pressure Forced Spanish Physician to Cancel Lecture on Homosexuality

Spanish physician Jokin De Irala, known for his theory that homosexuality is a curable disease, was forced to cancel a planned lecture on the subject in Costa Rica, due to the controversy sparked by it. 

Bidding Process Begins For Restoring Colonial Church

In a meeting on February 12, Nicoyans received the good news that the restoration work of the emblematic colonial church is up for bid, after having been affected by the earthquake last year on September 5th.  Work could begin in three months.

Costa Rica Breaks Tourism Records in 2012

The Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT) announced 2012 was a record-breaking year for Costa Rica, with the country receiving over 2.34 million visitors, a 6.9% increase from 2011.

Strong Winds Damage Houses and Halt Fiestas

Strong winds on Saturday and Sunday, March 2 and 3, left many sleepless, listening to the metal roof sheets banging, loosening and in some cases actually flying loose.

Muni Accuse Scientist Marino Protti for Tourist Cancellation in Samara

Predictions and information provided about earthquakes in the Nicoya Peninsula by scientist Marino Protti Quesada have caused so much controversy that the Municipality of Nicoya agreed in the regular session on February 7 to give a vote of censure for alleged mistakes and inaccuracies.

Unusual Cases of Dengue in the Nicoya County During the Dry Season

A high amount of cases of dengue fever in the Nicoya County were being seen during January and February, unusual for dry season when there should be less breeding grounds for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry the illness. 

Muni and Nosara Police Reinforced with New Motorcycles

The Nosara Public Force can now count on two brand new motorcycles, purchased with funds from the specific line items budget allocated to the Nosara district, with the goal of giving greater security to this coastal district of the Nicoyan canton.

Nicoya Hospital Resumes Surgical Service, Again

After having the three operation rooms closed for remodeling since last year due to an order from the Ministry of Health, the La Anexion hospital in Nicoya has now resumed its surgical program, which it had to conduct in an improvised room as well as in the hospital in Liberia and in the Centro de Atención Integral en Salud (CAIS- Center of Integral Health Attention) of Cañas.

Pictures and News of the Month

The Voice of Nosara brings you a brief recap of February stories you might have missed.

Gas Price Hike Approved: Super ¢17, Regular & Diesel ¢15

Get ready for higher gasoline prices in the coming days. That is the word by the Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos (Aresep) – regulator of public prices and services.

Nicoyans Seek Answers From Government in March 19th Protest

Convinced that there is strength in numbers, hundreds of protestors from different districts of Nicoya are preparing to unite in a solid front on Wednesday, March 19th to request answers from the central government regarding various projects and problems that face the communities of the canton.



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