Indonesia's Early Warning System Using GPS to Fight Tsunamis

A scene inside the Tsunami Warning Center in Jakarta

A scene inside the Tsunami Warning Center in Jakarta

After 2005’s horrible earthquake and tsunami that left over 230,000 people dead and 1.8 million people displaced, Indonesia began setting up an early warning system. The Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System is made up of three different  levels: an earthquake monitoring system, a sea level monitoring system, and a computer modeling system that generates possible tsunami projections. The system collects its data using seismometers, tide gauges, and GPS tracking units mounted on buoys.

These devices detect changes in water pressure which can indicate an incoming tsunami. In addition, the system uses ocean bottom satellite-linked sensors which can warn of a tsunami just 5 minutes after an earthquake happens. Operators at the Tsunami Early Warning System would in turn alert the authorities , the media and communities.

“Right now we have in place what we call Service Level 1 [the earthquake monitoring system]. We use earthquake monitoring equipment to determine earthquake parameters and the potential for tsunami generation,” Fauzi, head of the Tsunami and Earthquake Centre in Jakarta, told IRIN.

In addition to early warning and deception operations, Indonesia is also working hard on discovering ways to get the warning out efficiently. So far tsunami warnings have been most effective by being disseminated through telephones, SMS and sirens. Sirens have been installed in several coastal areas and are being tested every month.

Unfortunately, scientists are predicting that another major earthquake will happen in the West Sumatra area in the next three decades. Here is to hoping that if there is indeed another major tsunami, all the cutting edge technology used in the Tsunami Early Warning System will help curb casualties and save lives before it’s too late.

(Via IRIN Asia)

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