Earth Observatory Blog

Submitted on 27 Dec 2018 by:

At approximately 9:30pm local time (2:30pm GMT) on the 22nd December 2018, a tsunami struck Indonesia’s Sunda Strait, which lies between the islands of Java and Sumatra, claiming over 430 lives. According to Indonesia’s disaster agency there are at least 1,500 injured, over 120 people still missing, and around 12,000 people have been displaced.

The tsunami occurred during a local holiday for the December solstice, striking a number of popular tourist destinations, including the Tanjung Lesung beach resort in the west of Java. Eyewitness reports indicate there were two separate waves, with the second, larger wave causing the most damage. 

The tsunami was caused by a violent eruption of Anak Krakatau (Fig. 1), the "child" of Krakatoa, in the Sunda Strait....

Submitted on 20 Dec 2018 by:

Dear EOS Community,

What a busy and exciting year for the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS). In early 2018, we kicked off the celebration of our 10thyear as a Research of Excellence at the Nanyang Techonological University (NTU). Marking a decade of geohazard research in Asia, EOS has built a team of outstanding scientists and staff to move the institution forward for years to come.

The celebration began with a much deserved party for our staff and faculty, in early May. People are the key to a successful institution and at EOS, we are no different. Our team of exemplary principal investigators are year-over-year conducting more critical research throughout Asia, which provide vital information to communities in at-risk areas.

Looking back on the past...

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 03 Oct 2018 by:
The Singapore Series on Sea-Level Rise, a special blog series by four Masters students from the University of Melbourne.

Our previous blog posts in the Singapore Series on Sea-Level Rise discussed the science behind sea-level rise, as well as the effects on Singapore as global temperatures increase and sea levels rise. If you have missed reading our first two blogs, you can find them here:

The Science of Sea-Level Rise: How Climate Change will Hurt Singapore

Why Your Chicken Rice Depends on Sea-Level Rise

These blog posts should make it clear that Singapore is...

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 25 Sep 2018 by:

Every year, millions of tourists travel to east Africa to watch millions of wildebeest, zebra, and other animals travel across the plains in one of the last “pristine” environments in world. 

What they might not realise is that around 3,500 years ago, this area of the world was also home to people who primarily subsisted on food produced by their cattle, sheep, and goats. Although these migrations of wildlife are often foremost in popular imaginings of the east African plains, a growing body of research shows that both ancient and modern pastoral societies have also had a hand in shaping parts of the east African grasslands.

A team of archaeologists, including Dr Michael Storozum, a Research...

Submitted on 22 Jun 2018 by:

Tidal wetlands in the contiguous US can store roughly 800 million tons of carbon in their soils. That is the latest estimate from a team of over 30 scientists, including Professor Benjamin Horton and Dr Tim Shaw from the Earth Observatory of Singapore and the Asian School of the Environment, published on 21 June 2018 in Nature Scientific Reports

Wetlands are one of humanity’s best defenses against climate change. Besides shielding cities from extreme weather like hurricanes, wetlands can also store massive amounts of carbon — up to 10 times faster than upland forests, according to some estimates. This carbon, known as “blue carbon,” has become a buzzword among those looking to protect the coasts from the...

Submitted on 03 May 2018 by:

Some eruptions are so large, and discharge so much magma (molten rock), that the roof of the magma chamber can no longer support itself. When the roof collapses, it forms a big hole in the ground called a caldera. One such volcano is Santorini, in Greece, whose distinctive ring shape was formed by multiple caldera collapses.

We studied the Cape Riva eruption of Santorini, an eruption of at least 10 km3 of magma —enough to cover all of Singapore to a depth of at least 14 m. We wanted to know how long it takes to assemble the magma that eventually gets erupted at the surface in a caldera-forming eruption like the Cape Riva. Do these magma reservoirs slowly grow over tens of thousands of years, or are they emplaced more rapidly? Knowing what...

Submitted on 19 Apr 2018 by:

Earthquakes continue to cause tremendous damage and casualties around the world. Contrary to other geophysical hazards, such as storms and floods, seismic hazards still elude short-term prediction. This is due, on the one hand, to our limited understanding of how rocks deform and break; and on the other hand, by the difficulty of probing Earth's interior to determine the physical parameters of a given fault.

To improve our understanding of how earthquakes are generated, a useful approach is to confront our hypotheses with a combination of laboratory experiments, field observations, and theoretical predictions.

The monitoring of plate boundaries with seismometers and GPS instruments, together with the development of increasingly sophisticated laboratory experiments...

Submitted on 15 Apr 2018 by:

One year ago, scientists and science advocates from across the globe were moved to march in the streets. It was a reactionary move, spurred by administration changes in the United States and the growing threat of reversals in global environment policies, funding, and education relating to climate change.

What has happened since then? Well, quite a bit actually. The United States withdrew from the Paris accord and in response, state leaders came together and formed the United States Climate Alliance to continue advancing the objectives of the Paris agreement, despite the...

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