Tsunamis: Detection, Monitoring, and Early-Warning Technologies

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Tsunamis: Detection, monitoring, and early-warning technologies

This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Published online 29 December Nature doi A monitoring station that could have provided early warning of the devastating Indian Ocean tsunamis lacked the telephone connection needed to relay news of the impending disaster, news nature.

A seismograph designed to detect the earthquakes that cause tsunamis was installed on the Indonesian island of Java in , but the data it collects is not sent to the central government in Jakarta because the telephone line has been disconnected since an office move in Officials in Jakarta were alerted to the earthquake that caused the giant waves by readings from the country's other 60 or so seismographs, but a lack of data from the specialized Java station prevented them from issuing a tsunami warning, says Nanang Puspito, head of the earthquake laboratory at the Bandung Institute of Technology in Indonesia.

Countries such as Sri Lanka and India, which suffered thousands of casualties, could potentially have been warned some two hours before the waves completed the 1,kilometre journey from the earthquake's epicentre off Indonesia.

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Better-equipped warning systems elsewhere also failed to alert the relevant authorities. A network of seabed pressure sensors and seismographs, run by the United Nations, can detect Pacific Ocean tsunamis within minutes. The system issued a warning about the 26 December earthquake just 15 minutes after it was detected, but the network is designed to serve countries around the Pacific Ocean, such as the United States and Australia.

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Officials in charge were unable to reach authorities in Indian Ocean nations. The need for a similar system in the Indian Ocean has been discussed at regular intervals by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, the UN body that runs the Pacific network, since at least It includes experts based at the University of Huddersfield — the only members from outside the 28 countries in the Indian Ocean Region.

They have played a key role in many international projects on resilience building. The international profile of the two professors has now led to membership of a Working Group and Tasks Team set up to establish and implement working plans in the Indian Ocean region.

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It oversaw the development of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System and includes early warning technology such as seismographic stations and deep-ocean assessment and reporting of tsunami buoys. They will guide implementation of a survey for capacity assessment of tsunami preparedness in the Indian Ocean region. We have to support tsunami education, conduct evacuation drills and ensure that local communications systems are properly set up to receive and send warnings. There is no room for complacency.