By Brandon Griggs, CNN January 14, 2010 -- Updated 1835 GMT (0235 HKT)
(CNN) -- Scientists have warned for years that the island of Hispaniola, which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic, was at risk for a major earthquake.
Five scientists presented a paper during the 18th Caribbean Geological Conference in March 2008 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, stating that a fault zone on the south side of the island posed "a major seismic hazard."
Tuesday's potentially disastrous 7.0 earthquake occurred in Haiti along the same fault line, known as the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone.
"We were concerned about it," said one of the paper's authors, Paul Mann, a senior research scientist at the University of Texas' Institute for Geophysics.
"The problem with these kinds of strikes is that they can remain quiescent -- dormant -- for hundreds of years," he said Tuesday evening. "So it's hard to predict when they'll occur."