Earth Observatory Blog

Submitted on 12 Jan 2018 by:

Very early in the morning on Friday, 12 January 2018, Myanmar was struck by a magnitude-6.0 earthquake. Residents in the two capital cities, Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, were able to feel the quake that had originated 40 kilometres west of the Sagaing Fault in Central Myanmar.

In the video below, Dr Wang Yu, a Research Fellow at the Earth Observatory of Singapore, suggests that today’s earthquake is a reminder of how active the Sagaing Fault actually is. 

Submitted on 26 Oct 2017 by:

On 25 April 2015, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, destroying buildings and infrastructure across 31 of Nepal’s 70 districts. Approximately 9,000 people lost their lives to the earthquake that day, 22,000 suffered from injuries, and eight million were affected.

I arrived in Kathmandu one week after the quake, as part of the World Bank disaster risk management team, to support the government of Nepal in various response and recovery activities.

In the days before getting on the plane, I worked with the Stanford Urban Resilience Initiative to develop an initial earthquake impact estimate, based on an impact model I had already developed for Nepal.

I had been researching the seismic risk of Kathmandu for my PhD at Stanford. More specifically, I was...

Submitted on 05 Jun 2017 by:

A new study from the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) sheds new light on the 2015 Sabah earthquake. Published on 9 March 2017 in Geoscience Letters, the research paper provides a complete analysis of the quake and explains how it triggered the deadly landslides that killed seven children. It also finds that the fault system responsible for the quake has the potential to produce a magnitude-7.0 rupture, or larger, in the future. 

The magnitude-6.0 earthquake in Sabah was devastating mostly because it triggered landslides on Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain standing in Southeast Asia. The landslides killed 18 hikers and injured at least 21 more.

The quake came...

Submitted on 23 Mar 2017 by:

The tectonically sleepy, yet very populated island of Bali was shaken on Wednesday morning (22 March 2017) by a magnitude-5.5 earthquake. Located 2 kilometres (km) northeast of Banjar Pasekan in southeastern Bali, the morning quake shook the area. But, because of its 118 km-depth, it did not cause major damage or any casualties.

Director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore, Professor Kerry Sieh, who has studied the mega-thrust fault off of the western side of Sumatra and down through Java and Bali, suggests that yesterday’s moderate earthquake is a reminder to us that even though the area has been dormant for the past several hundred years, it has the potential to release a large earthquake, or even a series of large quakes, of about magnitude-8.5 to 9.0 in the...

Submitted on 11 Mar 2017 by:

The devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake in northeastern Japan was a record-breaker on many levels. The magnitude-9.0 quake was Japan’s largest recorded and the world’s fourth biggest earthquake since 1900. Most terribly, it unleashed a 39-metre high tsunami, killing almost 16,000 people and causing a nuclear meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

The earthquake had effects on a global scale. Seismic waves caused icebergs to break off in Antarctica, water in Norwegian fjords to splash back and forth, and wreckage from the tsunami washed up along the North American coastline. Another global consequence? The quake shortened Earth’s day by 1.8 microseconds (µs) and shifted its figure axis by 17 centimetres (cm). 

Just to clear things up, our planet...

Submitted on 29 Nov 2016 by:

In the night of 21 November 2016 (local time), Japan was struck by a magnitude-6.9 earthquake. This was soon followed by a M 5.6 quake in New Zealand’s North Island, which sparked speculation that the event in Japan had triggered the one in New Zealand. 

Dr Wang Yu, a Research Fellow at the Earth Observatory of Singapore, appeared on Channel NewsAsia’s morning news programme, on 22 November 2016, to explain both earthquake events, as well as clarify whether or not this is an indication of more large earthquakes to come.

Below is a short summary of the Q&A segment between Dr Wang and host, Christine Chan:

Q: First Japan, then New Zealand. Are we seeing an awakening of the Ring of Fire?

The Ring of Fire never rests. If we look at historical...

Submitted on 24 Nov 2016 by:

The recent powerful quakes that devastated the northeastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island on 14 Nov 2016 may be part of a pattern emerging for large strike-slip fault earthquakes all around the world.

The New Zealand quakes are significant, because they did not occur on the country’s largest plate-boundary fault line, the Alpine Fault. They instead occurred on smaller nearby faults, and this is something that is happening to other such faults, most notably California’s San Andreas Fault.

New Zealand’s Alpine Fault is a 600-kilometre right-lateral strike-slip fault that forms the main boundary between the Australian and Pacific plates. Its plate movements, considered to be fast by global standards, at ≈ 3 centimetres per year, forged and shaped the Southern...

Submitted on 09 Jun 2016 by:

A magnitude-6.2 earthquake occurred about 300 km southeast of Bali Island on 9 June 2016 at approximately 12.13pm (Singapore Time). Its epicentre is estimated to be close to the Java Trench front with a shallow focal depth from the global seismic network.

Although the tremors from this earthquake were felt by people in Bali and eastern Java, more than 400 km from the epicentre, it is not likely that this earthquake will generate a major tsunami event in Indonesia based on the current estimation of its magnitude.

The Java Trench is located at the southeastern extension of the Sunda Trench, where the Australian plate subducts beneath other tectonic plates along Java and the Lesser Sunda Island. In the past century, the Java Trench has produced more than four major...

Submitted on 04 Jun 2016 by:

Last year, a magnitude-6.0 earthquake rocked the Sabah region of Malaysia. The quake triggered massive rock avalanches on Mount Kinabalu and tragically took the lives of 18 people on the mountain. It included the lives of seven primary school students from Singapore who were on a field trip during their school holidays.

After the earthquake, Dr Wang Yu, a Research Fellow from the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), visited Sabah for a quick post-earthquake survey. There, he found buildings with cracked foundations, caved-in ceilings, and broken pillars that result from the strong ground-shaking motions. The heavy rains that followed after the earthquake caused debris flow, further damaging the area’s bridges and buildings. In total, the quake caused almost S$35 million...

Submitted on 31 May 2016 by:

A magnitude-7.2 deep earthquake occurred offshore northeastern Taiwan on 31 May 2016. This is the second significant quake to have struck northern Taiwan this month, and it was powerful enough to generate strong ground motion throughout the whole of northern Taiwan.

Unlike the shallow Ilan earthquake that had occurred earlier this month on 12 May 2016, the Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan estimated the hypocentre of today’s M 7.2 earthquake to be located approximately 270 km below the seafloor. This suggests that this event is likely to have occurred at the northward subducting slab of the Philippine Sea Plate.

The collision and subduction of the Philippine Sea Plate with the Eurasian Plate are responsible for the creation of the island of Taiwan for the past...