Thursday, March 31, 2005

Tsunami Physics and Preparedness - Meeting at ICTP

The International Centre for Theoretical Physics organized a workshoop on the Tsunami in Trieste Italy on the 24th of March , 2005. I was one of the speakers on the topic of
Science, Disaster Management and Tsunami in Sri Lanka.

See details

Meeting Report

This seminar was organized by the International Centre for Theoretical Physics which was founded by Abdus Salaam, who was later awarded the Nobel Prize, to support scientific advancement in poor countries. I had attended one workshop on topographic effects on climate modelling at this centre in 1997 and had been an Associate Member thereafter.

The Tsunami Physics and Preparedness meeting had been organized by the ICTP, as a response to the Indian Ocean event. There were two aspects to the meeting - the morning concerned the role that ICTP can play through its programs in the countries on the Indian Ocean littoral and the afternoon concerned the Adriatic Seas.

The ICTP functioned initially under the sponsorship of IAEA and later in addition of UNESCO. UNESCO is taking a lead role in the UN system in creating a framework for international agencies to work on a response to the Tsunami. It had convened a meeting in Paris from March 3-8 that sought to establish a network of countries that could cooperate on Tsunami in the Indian Ocean. This meeting had been attended by two of the speakers at the ICTP meeting Francois Schindele (UNESCO, Paris) and Karim Aoudia (ICTP, Italy). Informally, I learnt of the impressions that they had of these meeting. The presentationof the Sri Lanka delegation (comprising a Diplomat (Prasad Kariyawasam) and Directors of the Meteorological, Acquatic Research and Geological Survey and a Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Moratuwa) is heavy on the technical side. The Sri Lankan delegation was at the center of attention given the grevious problems in Sri Lanka. It does seem that issues of vulnerability reduction did not receive much attention here. The next meeting is due to be held in Mauritius in May.

The seminar was intended to initiate an ICTP contribution to disaster reduction. The Director of the ICTP underlined the large numbers who died and the need to response. The meetings was good at capturing the physics of tsunamis and the potential for various disciplines particularly geophysics to contribute to it. The afternoon session was focussed on Tsunami risk in the Adriatic seas and risk and vulnerability assessment locally. The ICTP hostel that I stayed was barely 10 meters from this sea. This part of the seminar highlighted the local expertise that could be drawn on in future ICTP work.

At the end, a communique from the meeting offered ICTP services in training and physics in support of the UNESCO sponsored international activities. Physcists of course find the science of earthquakes and tsunami warnings, more relevant than the areas of disaster preparedness or risk management or vulnerability reduction. I argued that if the objective was to help contribute to reducing the destructiveness of Tsunamis and other hazards, vulnerability reduction was the best investment followed by disaster preparedness. There can be warning systems but investments of time, effort and resources are now being overly dedicated to warning systems.


Monday, March 28, 2005

Tsunami Hazard on Monday March 28th, 2005

An earthquake on March 28th, 2005 is being reported in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Northern Sumara. This earthquake at 8.2 on the Richter scale is considerably weaker than the
Tsunami of 9.3 on December 26th, 2004. As I write this, it is about 2 hours since the event and the news was just reported on BBC and CNN. At least some people in Sri Lanka are aware of this -

The earthquake observations of the USGS is given next followed by the Tsunami warning issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.

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EARTHQUAKE MEASURING 8.2 ON RICHTER SCALE HAS OCCURED OFF NORTH SUMATRA IN INDIAN OCEAN at 11.09 pm local time

A great earthquake occurred at 16:09:37 (UTC) on Monday, March 28, 2005. The magnitude 8.2 event has been located in NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

Magnitude 8.2
Date-Time Monday, March 28, 2005 at 16:09:37 (UTC)
= Coordinated Universal Time
Monday, March 28, 2005 at 11:09:37 PM
= local time at epicenter
Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones
Location 2.093°N, 97.016°E
Depth 30 km (18.6 miles) set by location program
Region NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA
Distances 205 km (125 miles) WNW of Sibolga, Sumatra, Indonesia
245 km (150 miles) SW of Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia
535 km (330 miles) WSW of KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia
1410 km (880 miles) NW of JAKARTA, Java, Indonesia
Location Uncertainty horizontal ± 6.1 km (3.8 miles); depth fixed by location program
Parameters Nst= 65, Nph= 65, Dmin=535.9 km, Rmss=0.85 sec, Gp= 61°,
M-type=moment magnitude (Mw), Version=6
Source USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
Event ID usweax
SEE USGS REPORTS AT : http://www.prh.noaa.gov/ptwc/wmsg

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A TSUNAMI WARNING HAS BEEN ISSUED BY PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTRE

TSUNAMI BULLETIN NUMBER 001
PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER/NOAA/NWS
ISSUED AT 1629Z 28 MAR 2005

. TSUNAMI INFORMATION BULLETIN ...


AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

ORIGIN TIME - 1610Z 28 MAR 2005
COORDINATES - 2.3 NORTH 97.1 EAST LOCATION - NORTHERN SUMATERA INDONESIA
MAGNITUDE - 8.5

EVALUATION
WARNING... THIS EARTHQUAKE HAS THE POTENTIAL TO GENERATE A WIDELY DESTRUCTIVE TSUNAMI IN THE OCEAN OR SEAS NEAR THE EARTHQUAKE. AUTHORITIES IN THOSE REGIONS SHOULD BE AWARE OF THIS POSSIBILITY AND TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION. THIS ACTION SHOULD INCLUDE EVACUATION OF COASTS WITHIN A THOUSAND KILOMETERS OF THE EPICENTER AND CLOSE MONITORING TO DETERMINE THE NEED FOR EVACUATION FURTHER AWAY.

THIS CENTER DOES NOT HAVE SEA LEVEL GAUGES OUTSIDE THE PACIFIC SO WILL NOT BE ABLE TO DETECT OR MEASURE A TSUNAMI IF ONE WAS GENERATED. AUTHORITIES CAN ASSUME THE DANGER HAS PASSED IF NO TSUNAMI WAVES ARE OBSERVED IN THE REGION NEAR THE EPICENTER WITHIN THREE HOURS OF THE EARTHQUAKE.