Annual Report 2016 - Outreach

Strengthening relationships, regionally and globally

Applied Projects

The Applied Projects Group led by Andreas Schaffer integrates scientific research into policies that aim to protect people living in the region, working with business and government leaders to address issues on geohazards.

In 2016, members of the Group visited Uttarakhand, in northern India, to study large historical Himalayan earthquakes. To answer questions about these poorly-studied medieval events, the team identified potential areas to conduct fieldwork on uplifted terraces along a 600-kilometre stretch from Chandigarh to Tanakpur. They also studied the towns of Lal Dhang and Ramnagar in Uttarakhand by mapping the region and collecting charcoal samples. Their findings will provide critical input into the State of Uttarakhand’s Earthquake Risk Model.

The group is also committed to mitigating hazard in Phuket, Thailand, following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. Over the last year, they partnered with the local government and stakeholders from the private and academic sectors to set up the Phuket Disaster Resilience Foundation. Their aim is to strengthen local hazard and risk research, disaster preparedness, as well as risk mitigation actions. The Foundation is working towards their goal via a two-pronged approach: they are partnering 20 schools to teach students about earthquakes and tsunamis and how to respond in the event of such disasters. They are also developing a digital inventory to catalogue and track response equipment from all government and non-government stakeholders in Phuket.

To better understand seismic risks in and around Singapore, the Applied Projects Group are working closely with the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore as they compile a seismic hazard report.

In the following year, the group will continue to conduct rigorous research on these projects as they help to realise the Earth Observatory’s mission of building safer and more sustainable societies.

Community Engagement

The Community Engagement Office pursues a multi-tiered agenda to reach and engage key audiences in order to elevate awareness, inform communities, and grow the Earth Observatory of Singapore as a resource for Southeast Asia and the world.

Under the direction of Sabrina Smith, the Community Engagement Office expanded its channels of communication and developed more connections throughout Singapore and the world to share the Observatory’s story and breadth of work. Last year, the Observatory received more media coverage, both local and international, that included commentaries on regional geohazards and new research findings. With the launch of the institutional blog in June, the Community Engagement Office broadened its reach by sharing research, stories, and outreach activities with its growing audiences throughout the digital sphere. The month-long series of blog posts on the Marine Investigation of the Rupture Anatomy of the 2012 Great Earthquake (MIRAGE) research cruise is a case in point. The stories shared directly from the ship offered insight into the scientific expedition and life on board a research vessel, among other topics.

The Community Engagement Office also provided group support to the Observatory, hosting and participating in a number of on-site workshops, visits, outreach events and conferences such as the Asia Oceania Geoscience Society Annual Meeting and the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. Many of our scientists share their research at these events, bringing science communication into clearer focus. In the past year, Pavel Adamek continued to work with scientists in the Observatory to help them hone their presentation skills. He also launched a science communication course for undergraduate students. On the education front, Jamie McCaughey partnered the Ministry of Education to provide professional development for physics teachers and educational leaders in Singapore.

Next year, the Community Engagement Office will continue to increase its outreach, deepening engagement as the office works to forge new partnerships, while continuing to grow the Observatory’s reach and relevance locally and globally.

Technical Office

The Technical Office manages all major field geophysical, geodetic, geochemical, and geospatial instruments and networks conducted by the Earth Observatory in South and Southeast Asian countries. These include geodetic grade permanent Global Positioning System (GPS) station networks and seismological observatories, which are equipped with monitoring and survey instruments. The Earth Observatory’s data centre, where acquired instrumental data are pre-processed, archived, and disseminated to the research community, are also under the Technical Office’s charge.

By working closely with foreign governments and research agencies to build a sustainable collaborative research programme, the Technical Office facilitates the installation and maintenance of instruments. To date, there are more than 100 continuously operating GPS stations and more than 50 seismological stations operating in nine countries across the region including Bhutan, India, and the Philippines.

This year was a fruitful year for the Technical Office. In Laos, they carried out surface gravity measurements at the Bolaven Plateau with the objective of tracing subsurface imprints of a possible meteoritic impact that might have crashed into Earth nearly 800,000 years ago. In Nepal and Myanmar, the Technical team created ground control points using GPS instruments in preparation of airborne LiDAR surveys that will be conducted later this year. The high resolution digital terrain map generated by the airborne LiDAR survey of these two countries will help researchers study the nature of tectonic faults and their potential to generate earthquakes. The team also installed five new broadband seismic stations as a part of the monitoring system at Sumatra’s Marapi volcano.

The Technical Office is in the midst of setting up 10 additional permanent GPS stations along the Sagaing Fault in Myanmar, taking the total to 18. The team will continue to support the Observatory’s efforts to survey and monitor the region’s geohazards.