Earth Observatory Blog

Submitted on 14 Nov 2018 by:

On Sunday (29 July 2018), I learnt about the strong 6.4-magnitude (M) earthquake in Lombok, Indonesia. As we have friends living there, I wanted to visit to see what aid we could organise for the people there. So my husband and I went to Lombok with some friends, and we linked up with other humanitarian aid groups to visit the Sembalun area, which is about 1,000 metres above sea level, at the foothills of Mount Rinjani, one of the most scenic volcanoes in the world.

 

At about 6.46 pm the following Sunday (5 August 2018), just as we had finished a meeting to prioritise the relief needs, an earthquake suddenly occurred. It was my first time experiencing a quake, and it really shook the foundations of what I knew about them.

I realised I had many...

Submitted on 06 Oct 2018 by:

Soputan Volcano in north Sulawesi erupts five days after the neighbouring magnitude-7.5 Palu earthquake – Was the eruption triggered by the earthquake?

An eruption from Soputan volcano commenced at 08:47 local time on 3 October 2018, producing a dense ash plume that rose 4 kilometres (km) above the summit and drifted west and northwest. This event occurred five days after the magnitude-7.5 Palu earthquake that caused a disastrous tsunami. The epicentre was located at a depth of 10 km and about 600 km to the west-southwest of Soputan volcano.

Could the eruption have been triggered by the earthquake?

Earthquakes and volcanoes are intimately linked through plate tectonics. Examples of earthquake-volcano interactions namely include the 1975 eruption of Kīlauea...

Submitted on 02 Oct 2018 by:

On 28 September 2018, central Sulawesi in Indonesia got struck by a powerful earthquake measuring 7.5 in magnitude (M). A tsunami that followed later devastated the city of Palu and the town of Donggala, leaving more than a thousand dead and even more homeless.

Associate Professor Adam Switzer, a Principal Investigator at the Earth Observatory, shares with us why this earthquake-tsunami event is a complicated one and what you can do to stay as safe as possible if you were ever caught up in one.

Submitted on 08 Mar 2018 by:

The highly active Sumatran Subduction Zone has produced more than four great earthquakes in the last decade. The first of these was the giant Mw 9.2 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake that ruptured on 26 December 2004. This devastating event was followed by three others – the Mw 8.6 Nias-Simeulue quake in 2005, the Mw 8.4 Bengkulu earthquakes in 2007, and the Mw 7.7 Mentawai tsunami-earthquake in 2010.

In order to understand why so many great earthquakes originate from this region, we have to measure the strength of the rocks in the earth’s lower crust and upper mantle. Our new research, published today on 8 March 2018 in Nature Communications, highlights a ground-breaking new approach to how the strength of these rocks...

Submitted on 16 Aug 2017 by:

In 2013 and 2015, Singapore suffered from extreme haze. Channel NewsAsia sat down with two experts to find out more about Singapore's haze prospects for 2017.

Assistant Professor Mikinori Kuwata, a Principal Investigator at the Earth Observatory of Singapore, discussed Singapore's haze situation with Vivian Claire Liew, the CEO of the social enterprise PhilanthropyWorks. Asst. Prof Kuwata explained how a combination of factors - both human and natural - will influence the prevalence of haze in Singapore.

Available online from August 14 2017 at 10pm, the video commentary can be viewed here.

Submitted on 05 May 2017 by:

Different rainforest trees grow on an island called Siberut; one of four big islands of the Mentawai Archipelago located off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. Katuka is what Mentawaians call one family of these dipterocarp trees. These trees have very hard wood and are widely used for construction and crafting.

I want to tell you the story of one katuka tree in particular. This 400-year-old tree will soon surrender its life to serve the needs of the people. 

A Giant Falls

As the sun rises over Siberut Island, a Mentawaian called Aman Ani and his fellow villagers sharpen their axes. They prepare their meals, as well as an offering for the forest spirits. Later, they sit quietly in a motorised canoe as they cruise upstream. Some of them are...

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 18 Dec 2016 by:
 

At just past five o'clock in the morning on 7 December 2016, a damaging earthquake struck Aceh, Indonesia. Damage was most severe in Pidie Jaya and neighbouring Pidie and Biruen Regencies, located east of the provincial capital of Banda Aceh. Extensive building damage tragically led to the loss of more than 100 lives. More than 80,000 people are displaced, unable to return because of destroyed or damaged buildings. People fear returning to their homes and community buildings because the...

Submitted on 09 Dec 2016 by:

The previous post focused mainly on the 1991 Pinatubo eruption and how it affected humans and history (scientific in this case). Today’s post will cover a historic eruption that changed the course of history on one Indonesian island, and around the world. No, it isn’t the 1815 Tambora eruption. Although that was an amazing eruption with respect to global impacts, today we will cover the lesser known 1257 Samalas eruption.

1257 Samalas – Lombok, Indonesia

Eruption

Samalas is located on the island of Lombok in Indonesia. Pyroclastic flows descended from the summit to the southeast, southwest, and nearly wiped out the north coast. Ash deposits provide evidence for an ash plume reaching between 39 and 43 kilometres (km) in altitude. The high altitudes...

Submitted on 20 Sep 2016 by:

Edible vegetable oil, produced from oil palm and soybeans, is a key ingredient in junk food like chips and ice cream. Although these foods have little to no nutritional value, global consumption is on the rise, resulting in an increase in demand for vegetable oil. This has become a serious issue because large areas of land in Southeast Asia and South America have to be cleared to make way for oil palm and soybean crops. 

A study, led by Assistant Professor Janice Lee of the Asian School of the Environment, has found that more forests will be cleared by the year 2050 as a result of the increased demand in vegetable oil. Along with this deforestation, valuable biodiversity will be lost in Southeast Asia, and sequestered carbon (carbon stored in plants, soils, and geologic...

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