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OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM PROFESSOR SYNOLAKIS ABOUT THE MARCH 28, 2005 EVENT (March 28, 2005)

The March 28, 2005 earthquake off Sumatra appears one of the top ten earthquakes in terms of energy release in the past ten years, according to Professor  Emile Okal of Northwestern University and affiliate of USC's Tsunami Research Center.

The scant reports we have of tsunami generation underscore how important direct tsunami detection is. In the past hours, myself and NOAA's Dr. Vasily Titov had to call colleagues around the world to get information on possible tsunami arrival. We have tried to access pre-existing calculations done in the wake of the Dec 26 event, to predict arrival times to help civil defense in the Maldives and elsewhere, who have been trying to decide on disruptive evacuations, without any indication as to whether a tsunami was actually generated or not or what its impact might be. Even five hours after the event, seismic data do not allow inferences as to the size of the area that ruptured so that hydrodynamic models can forecast possible tsunami inundation. We have had to rely on pre-existing work and scaling relationships that relate deformation size to earthquake magnitude to come up with the attached figures.

If anything has changed, it is that at least the Maldives appears more prepared, and that the PTWC notified the State department within one hour of the event, which in turn has sent messages to the US Embassies in Thailand, Myanmar, Jakarta, India, Bangladesh, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Mauritius.

Nothing has changed in terms of the earlier worldwide reliance on seismometers to "predict" tsunamis. The improved capability of seismic networks so loudly advertised in the UNESCO meeting in Paris on March 3-8 on the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning Center has not helped either. What is needed is real time tsunami forecast that gets updated on the basis of tsunameter (DART) buoy data, from the deep ocean, a capability available now only in the North Pacific.     Click here for preliminary figures of the tsunami propagation from Drs. Diego Arcas and Vasily Titov, two TRC graduates.

Costas Synolakis
Professor of Civil Engineering

 

PROFESSOR BORRERO AND FRITZ IN SOMALIA (March 3, 2005)
Professor Borrero and Professor Hermann Fritz rom Georgia Tech are now in Somalia, heading to Puntland, the worst hit area. This is the first science team to work in Somalia. The trip is under the auspices of UNESCO and was organized by Professor Synolakis in Nairobi with the cooperation of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.
Read More...

INDIA MUST COLLABORATE ON TSUNAMI WARNING SYSTEM (March 3, 2005)
Professor Synolakis argues in a correspondence in Nature (vol 434, p17, 03/03/2005) , that India must collaborate on the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning Center. "Yet neither that storm-warning experience, nor the existence of India's sophisticated seismic networks, led to warnings being issued on 26 December, once the tsunami had struck the Andaman/Nicobar islands. The tsunami did not hit the Indian mainland for another two hours. Allegedly, communications links had survived in Port Blair on the Andaman islands, not to mention nearby airforce and navy bases that were affected. Some have argued that up to 40,000 people might have been saved if they had been warned." Read article...

TSUNAMI QUAKE'S FORCE REVISED HIGHER (Feb. 8, 2005)
The earthquake on Dec. 26 that generated a devastating tsunami across the Indian Ocean released three times as much energy as previously thought, according to calculations by scientists at Northwestern University. Earlier calculations that put the magnitude at 9.0 relied on seismic data that recorded oscillations up to five minutes long. In revising the magnitude to 9.3, Dr. Seth Stein and Dr. Emile Okal of Northwestern said their calculations included oscillations up to 54 minutes in length. That would fit with suggestions that the earthquake broke 750 miles of the fault stretching north from the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Kenneth Chang (Source: New York Times). Read more... (Press Release from Northwestern University)

 

LIST OF SATELLITE IMAGES (Jan. 7, 2004)
While Professors Costas Synolakis and Jose Borrero are on location preparing field surveys, we are posting temporarily satellite images from other sources to facilitate colleagues with disaster relief. Read more...

 

TSUNAMI IN THE INDIAN OCEAN
Sunday, Dec. 26, 2004, 7:58:53 AM (local time @ epicenter);
00:58:53 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
A great earthquake off the island of Sumatra caused a large tsunami throughout the Indian Ocean. Professors Costas Synolakis and Jose Borrero from the USC Tsunami Research Center have been widely quoted in the aftermath of the disaster.
Because staff from the research center have been in the field constantly researching the event, our response to email inquiries will be slow. We are continuing to read messages but for the immediate future we will not be able to respond immediately to all questions. We are exerting our best efforts both for science and in memory of the victims of this dreadful calamity, in the hopes of improving defense and warning systems.
Thank you for your patience.