The Earth Observatory of Singapore conducts fundamental research on earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and climate change in and around Southeast Asia, toward safer and more sustainable societies.
This annual report marks the end of the Earth Observatory’s first decade. At the onset, we conceived of a regional research and educational institution aimed at conducting basic geohazards research, headquartered on the campus of an up-and-coming university, NTU Singapore. Did we move significantly toward these goals during our first ten years? Are we contributing to making Southeast Asian societies safer and more sustainable? Are we likely, through the remainder of the century, to play a premier role in meeting the challenges posed to Southeast Asian societies by climate and sea-level change, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, and river hazards?
This year’s annual report helps answer these questions by focusing on the Observatory’s work with colleagues in one of our neighbouring countries – Myanmar. We hope you will find that the work we have begun there demonstrates clearly that research organisations, government agencies, universities, and private entities within our region can work closely, earnestly, and deliberately together to understand and characterise geohazards. We offer you a glimpse of how the knowledge we are producing and the youngsters we are educating are improving our region’s ability to adapt to natural hazards.
We start with our early efforts to map the active earthquake-producing faults of Myanmar and then with characterisation of its three principal seismic structures and their past earthquakes. We then introduce the geodetic and seismic networks that we have built with our colleagues and some of the initial discoveries. Quantitative maps of seismic hazard follow. Available documentation of past climate patterns in Myanmar place constraints on forecasts of climate change in Southeast Asia but our novel use of GPS to monitor sea-level changes and land subsidence will help keep track of and prognosticate those hazards as the century progresses. Finally, we highlight regional workshops that we have promoted in Myanmar and neighbouring Thailand, examples of our efforts to build professional capacity in geosciences throughout the region.
The Earth Observatory operates as a good neighbour, not as a distant research entity, partnering with our Southeast Asian collaborators as colleagues with shared long-term goals of understanding the region and making it safer. As our Myanmar collaboration demonstrates, we are spearheading the effort to build a Southeast Asian geohazards research and educational community. This is not a traditional way of doing things. Will it endure through the remainder of the century? We hope so, and we hope that you do too.
Professor Kerry Sieh