Earth Observatory Blog

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 Nov 2019 by:

Today is World Tsunami Awareness Day. It is a timely opportunity to create greater global awareness about tsunamis as a geological hazard. Before asking how we can stay safe (or safer) from tsunamis, we must first think about how we might improve on the resilience of our current and future infrastructure.

Let’s start by looking at what a tsunami is. A tsunami is a series of waves caused by an underwater earthquake, a volcanic eruption, a landslide, or meteorological processes (meteo-tsunamis). 

So why is SE Asia vulnerable to tsunami hazards? First of all, SE Asia lies in a complex tectonic setting that contains many fault systems and volcanoes. Coupled with a high population density and a tight network of infrastructure in coastal areas, one can imagine just how...

Submitted on 30 Sep 2019 by:

Just after 6pm on 28 September 2018 (Singapore time), a magnitude-7.5 earthquake struck central Sulawesi. The powerful quake generated a tsunami which, along with massive landslides, devastated Palu and the town of Donggala. These resulted in more than 4,000 people dead or missing.

In an economic loss assessment report issued by Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), the Palu earthquake event caused more than S$1.5 million in damages.

Today, a year later, scientists from the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) and their teams are ready to share some of their findings about this earthquake-tsunami event.

A Complex Rupture Sequence

Using a combination of seismic, geodetic, geologic, and written records, Assistant Professor Wei...

Submitted on 28 Sep 2019 by:

During the early evening of 28 September 2018, a magnitude-7.5 earthquake struck along the coast of northwestern Sulawesi, Indonesia. This region hosts a famous strike-slip fault system called the Palu-Koro Fault.

Even though this is one of the fastest slipping faults in the world, it has not produced many large earthquakes during historical times. The Palu-Koro Fault was therefore thought to have a high probability of a large and destructive earthquake, and so the occurrence of the 2018 quake in Sulawesi wasn’t very surprising.

However, the landsliding that was triggered by the earthquake turned out to be unexpectedly destructive. Soon after the earthquake, witnesses described entire villages south of Palu City sinking into mud and disappearing, and it was...

Submitted on 20 Sep 2019 by:

At home and abroad there is increasing agreement that we are facing an existential environmental crisis. Death, destruction, and disruption by extreme weather events, haze from forest fires, and contamination of oceans by plastic waste have dramatically increased the awareness of environmental degradation, and given rise to a realisation that the conclusions from decades of scientific research, and the dire predictions arising from it, indeed point to a considerable challenge to society.  

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in the 2019 National Day Rally speech that “climate change is one of the gravest challenges the human race faces and Singapore is already feeling its impact – which is likely to worsen over the next few decades”. 

Last week...

Submitted on 17 Sep 2019 by:

Many may still remember the powerful eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. It was one of the largest eruptions in recent history, and sent volcanic ash even as far as Singapore, over 2,400 kilometres (km) away. 

But what many do not know is that the thin layer of volcanic ash that had settled across Singapore could have been more severe. Typhoon Yunya (also known as Typhoon Diding) had struck the Philippines almost at the same time as the Mount Pinatubo eruption.

Previously, scientists had not investigated how the typhoon had affected the amount of ash that fell on Singapore. However, preliminary modelling results carried out by scientists at the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) and Asian...

Submitted on 23 Aug 2019 by:

In the video below, Professor Benjamin Horton, Principal Investigator at the Earth Observatory of Singapore and Chair of the Asian School of the Environment, shares his thoughts on the topic of climate and sea-level rise in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s 2019 National Day Rally (NDR) speech that was aired on 18 August 2019.

Prof Horton felt that PM Lee had successfully communicated and emphasised the urgency for Singapore to take the right actions to deal with the effects of climate change. This is especially important for land-scarce Singapore, where we can’t simply move in-land as a means to adapt to sea levels that certainly will rise. As an important first step, he recommends that Singapore “invest in the science, [so that we] can have responsible and robust adaptation...

Submitted on 31 Jul 2019 by:

Since 2012, EOS has had a presence at the Science Centre Singapore (SCS), with 'Earth: Our Untamed Planet' exhibition. Through this parternship, EOS and SCS have welcomed millions of Singapore students and visitors from around the world to the exhibition, providing research, stories, and experiences that shape the geological framework of Southeast Asia, and the many natural hazards facing the region.

But, after seven years, it’s time for a review. So over the past couple of years, we’ve been talking with our SCS colleagues about changing up the current exhibition to update the experience and story we’re telling. In November 2018, we pulled our third collaborator, the world-famous Exploratorium, into the mix and officially launched the redesign project with a plan to open...

Submitted on 09 Jul 2019 by:


On 5 July 2019 at 1.33am (Singapore time), a Mw 6.4 earthquake struck the town of Ridgecrest in California. Its seismic waves could be felt from Los Angeles to San Jose. Nearly a day and a half later, on 6 July at 11.19am (Singapore time), a more powerful Mw 7.1 quake struck the same region. Because the Mw 7.1 earthquake is the largest event so far in this sequence, it is considered to be the mainshock. The events leading up to it, which include the Mw 6.4 quake, are considered to be foreshocks.

From this sequence of earthquakes, it is clear that the Mw 6.4 foreshock had triggered seismicity on conjugate faults (i.e. intersecting faults that criss-cross in a X-shape) along the Eastern California Shear Zone which runs somewhat parallel to the San Andreas Fault, but is...

Submitted on 27 Jun 2019 by:

Social media has found itself a heavyweight role in geology. By scraping Twitter and mining text data in Tweets, scientists at the Nanyang Technological University can now track where volcanic ash has fallen. This breakthrough won Assistant Professor Benoit Taisne and Professor Gao Cong the Accelerating Creativity and Excellence (ACE) Award for their research project titled “Detecting and Tracking Volcanic Ash Using Social Media Data”.

Asst. Prof Taisne, a principal investigator at the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), worked closely with...