Daily Updates

Dr. Synolakis phones home!

Photos and Notes from the Field Survey

July 31,1998 - Survey team arrives in Port Moresby, PNG.

August 1, 1998 - Survey team met with Japanese survey team in WEWAK. Joined the party and now have departed by boat.

August 2, 1998 - The western members of the team set sail from WEWAK and measured 4 runup points on nearby islands. This location was over 100 km from the epicenter and experienced small sea level fluctuations. Reported hearing the sound of breaking waves and water rushing over the offshore reefs. This was reported to have occurred approximately 15 to 30 minutes after the earthquake.

August 3, 1998 - The survey began in AITAPE, 2 runup points were measured of over 3m each. We were given permission to enter SISSANO lagoon and measured 10m runups and wave height. The damage is extensive. The entire lagoon is full of debris. Media reports of damage around SISSANO lagoon were not exaggerated. Overland flow depth of 12m were recorded. Entire place has been swept clean by the wave, leaving only trees. We explored the lagoon by boat and damage is extensive. We spent the night anchored, offshore of SISSANO lagoon.

August 4, 1998 - We continued to survey the SISSANO lagoon area, this time venturing to the west side of the lagoon and main village. Water flow depths of over 5m were recorded at 400 m inland. All buildings were destroyed. The day also included several helicopter sorties over the affected area. From this vantage point, we were able to see the extreme inundation. In the afternoon, another point was surveyed about 8 km to the west and here we also fouind evidence of 7 m flow depth on the beach. The team spent the night anchored further west offshore of the ARNOLD river.

August 5, 1998 - Survey began at ARNOLD river, west of SISSANO lagoon. Watermarks were found, indicating runup of 3-5 m with some extreme values observed on the western bank. A helicopter overfly was conducted westward up to SERAI village. This was followed by swinging the boat westward to SERAI. Runup values diminished to 1.5 m or less. The survey stopped at this point because the coastline changed drastically at this area with cliffs and very steep rock beaches. Also, there were no reports of damage or runup further west. The team returned eastward and sampled point between SISSANO and the ARNOLD river. Dr. John Nott left the team with a stylish James Bond exit. He arranged for a helicopter working in Aitape to pick him up off the beach and fly him to Vanimo. Very smooth. After dark, we returned to AITAPE and anchored there for the night.

August 6, 1998 - The final day. The day was spent briefing relief officials and making presentations at local school and hospitals. The intrepid Dr. DeLange and Boyd Benson made a mission to Tumleo Island offshore of Aitape. Evidence of 4 m reunup and movement of large coral blocks were found. Several houses and boats on the island were also destroyed, but no one was killed or injured. Residents reported that NO ONE (not even PNG relief officials) had come to the island to check on their status. (the island is approx. 1 mile from shore). At 4 pm we were underway for the 14 hour voyage to Wewak.

August 7, 1998 - Arrived in Wewak at 6 am. Immediately transferred to the airport and caught a flight to Port Moresby. Also caught the last flight to Sydney (barely we were on standby). Said our goodbyes to Dr. De Lange in Brisbane as he jetted to Auckland. Stayed the night in Sydney

August 8, 1998 - Departed Sydney at 12 pm arrived in LA on the same day 4 hours earlier than we left! Now updating the page at 4 pm LA time. Dr. Synolakis will be returning Monday after giving a final briefing to PNG authorities on Saturday. There will be a web page with photos up by 9 am monday Los Angeles time.

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