Earth Observatory Blog

Submitted on 12 Apr 2021 by:

The magnitude-6 earthquake that struck Java on Saturday, 10 April 2021, at approximately 2pm (local time) occurred at a depth of 82 kilometres (km), according to the United States Geological Survey. This earthquake was strongly felt in East Java and led to loss of life and property. The location of this earthquake is the main reason why it was felt so strongly.

The earthquake occurred about 60 km southwest of Malang, off the coast of Java, a region where the Indo-Australian plate dives under the Eurasian plate. In this region, the subducting plate experiences downward-pulling forces. It also experiences increasing pressure and temperature, which cause hydrous minerals to release water. These processes work together to cause the deeper part of the slab to break and...

Submitted on 15 Feb 2021 by:

A Mw 7.1 earthquake struck Japan on 13 February 2021 at approximately 11:07pm (Japan local time). According to the United States Geological Survey, the earthquake occurred at a depth of about 50 kilometres (km) and about 70 km from the town of Namie, off the east coast of Honshu. The event was widely felt, injuring more than a hundred people and damaging some infrastructure.

“This earthquake is not particularly unusual or unexpected for this region, but it is noticeably larger than most recent events this deep and this close to the coast,” said Dr Kyle Bradley, a Principal Investigator at the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS).

The event is another likely powerful aftershock of the Mw 9.1 event

The event occurred nearly 10 years since the Mw 9.1 Tohoku...

Submitted on 29 Jan 2021 by:

A series of deadly earthquakes struck the Indonesian island of Lombok over three weeks in August 2018, causing widespread damage. These earthquakes were unusual because there were two magnitude-6.9 mainshock events that were each preceded by a smaller foreshock, instead of a single mainshock. The complexity of the earthquake sequence caused great anxiety about when another powerful earthquake might occur.

In our study published in the journal Science Advances, we demonstrate how the complexity of this earthquake sequence is due to the influence of Gunung Rinjani, Lombok’s large active volcano, on the geological fault that hosted the earthquakes.

After the first powerful magnitude-6.4 earthquake...

Submitted on 15 Jan 2021 by:

A moderate earthquake struck western Sulawesi, Indonesia, on 15 January 2021 at approximately 2:28am (SGT). According to the United States Geological Survey, the Mw 6.2 event occurred about 36 kilometres (km) south of Mamuju on the island of Sulawesi at a depth of 18 km.

This event follows a smaller Mw 5.7 foreshock event that occurred approximately 12 hours earlier at about the same location.

Today’s event is due to compressional forces on a fault system that has left a visible record in the topography and geology. However, not many earthquakes have happened on this fault system in the recent past. “The east-dipping thrust fault here is part of an obscure system of faults that extends offshore and is not well studied,” said Dr Kyle Bradley, a Principal...

Submitted on 06 Aug 2020 by:

In conversation with Assistant Professor Aron Meltzner, Principal Investigator at the Earth Observatory of Singapore


1. How does the recent powerful magnitude-7.8 earthquake in Alaska remind us of similar hazards in Southeast Asia?

Last week, we saw a powerful earthquake off the coast of Alaska with a magnitude of 7.8 which had the potential to trigger a damaging tsunami, but fortunately this did not happen.

It occurred along a subduction zone where the Pacific Plate is subducting or slipping under the North American plate. The shaking that we know as an earthquake results from the sudden movement between these two plates, but that sudden movement also has the potential to lift up the seafloor, which in turns lifts the water above it, and that can...

Submitted on 15 Jun 2020 by:

The first results from Singapore’s first island-wide seismic survey unravel some important features of Singapore’s underground.

In March of last year, a team at the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) recorded the ground movements of Singapore using 88 seismometers placed in locations such as schools, parks and weather stations.

We collected a vast quantity of fascinating data using distant earthquakes to image Singapore’s subsurface, and our first set of results were recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Seismologists use a technique called receiver functions to look at boundaries between different rocks...

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 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 30 May 2019 by:

I went to Banda Aceh, Indonesia in 2006 to help assess the impact of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami upon the region’s rich cultural heritage. The scale of destruction caused by the tsunami was staggering. Half the city had been pulverised and all that was left was a mix of concrete, broken furniture, household items, and a colorful patchwork of shreds of clothing. We found clusters of beautifully carved stone grave markers dating back centuries amongst the rubble, half buried in mud and debris, or piled up neglected near areas being cleared by NGOs and donors for new tracts of post-disaster housing.

The same waves that killed over 150,000 people and displaced millions had reached back into the past and threatened to wipe out the historical memories of Aceh’s coastal...