Earth Observatory Blog

Submitted on 25 Nov 2019 by:

Singapore, unlike Japan, does not have any volcanoes. However, our little sunny island is in proximity to 127 active volcanoes in Indonesia and 53 in the Philippines. This means that like Japan, Singapore too could be significantly affected by different types of volcanic hazards, making research on volcanoes an important area of study for both countries. Here’s how Singapore was once affected.

Singapore was impacted by volcanic ash in 1991 after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. And with that many volcanoes around the country, it is unlikely to be a one-off. As for Japan, it is in constant alert with its currently 110 active volcanoes. But, despite a very developed monitoring system, some eruptions – such as the 2014 Ontake eruption – still have...

Submitted on 12 Nov 2019 by:

Located high in the mountains are structures called “mountain huts” that provide refuge and safety to those who are in need of food and shelter. However, because of their location, these life-saving shelters are highly vulnerable to the projectiles from nearby erupting volcanoes.

In a study jointly conducted by scientists from the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) and the University of Canterbury (UC), we looked at an eruption event in Japan to learn what we can about how to reduce the impacts of projectiles on roofs of building structures. Our findings were recently published on 7 November 2019 in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research.

We wanted to see...

Submitted on 05 Apr 2018 by:

Channel NewsAsia held a dialogue session on 24 January 2018 at the Funan Showsuite. Associate Professor Adam Switzer, a Principal Investigator at the Earth Observatory of Singapore, together with a panel of speakers, shared their thoughts on CNA’s INSIGHT episode, Fukushima — 6 years after the Daiichi disaster. They explored topics that looked at how safe it is for residents to return to Fukushima, the damage to the ecosystems there, as well as its clean-up.

Assoc Prof Switzer led the discussion on the long-term damages from alternative energy sources, and if clean energy might be the solution. “There is a rising demand for energy in Singapore due to growing industries. But what are the acceptable risks?” he asked. “The hazard zone of a nuclear power plant is the size of...

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 27 Apr 2016 by:

The concept behind a theme park’s Tipping Bucket water game is simply this: water drips slowly into a bucket and when it becomes completely filled, it tips over to splash the people beneath it.

An earthquake fault acts in the same way. Tectonic stress from a plate’s motion gradually accumulates on the fault plane until it hits a critical level, causing the fault to rupture and generate an earthquake. 

Similarly, one could look at a fault system as being made up of many tipping buckets of different sizes with different filling rates, and containing different amounts of water. When a big earthquake occurs, the ruptured fault will transfer some degree of tectonic stress to nearby faults. To understand this, imagine a large bucket of water tipping over and splashing its...