Earth Observatory Blog

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...

Submitted on 24 Apr 2019 by:

When the time came for us to choose a place to house the EOS Dynamic Earth Games, the answer was a clear and obvious one – the Science Centre Singapore (SCS).

SCS has an impressive 40-year record of making science fun and accessible to the public. They successfully reach out to and engage more than one million visitors annually.

We, at the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), know just how capable the SCS team is. We have worked with them over the years on various projects and launches (e.g. “Earth: Our Untamed Planet” exhibit currently in SCS, and the film screening of EOS documentary The Ratu River). Most recently, we spent the past six months working closely with SCS and acclaimed Californian science museum, The Exploratorium, on a new earth science exhibition...

Submitted on 17 Apr 2019 by:

When the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) first decided to create educational materials about the earth sciences, all we knew then was that we wanted something extra fun, immersive, and highly interactive. The EOS Dynamic Earth Games that we have now were not yet in our minds.

The search for a team who could bring this to life for us was quite a task. That was until we met BOHO Interactive, a collective of artists and game designers from Australia.

During the planning phase, the BOHO team spent a good amount of time in EOS to learn about the different types of research being done by our scientists. They then shortlisted a few to build the games on. After developing several of these games, they tested the prototypes at different events with different audiences...

Submitted on 03 Apr 2019 by:

What makes up the exciting memories of my first interaction with science? I recall touching the slimy texture of snails, sniffing ammonia salt (also known as “smelly salt”), and making my sister’s hair stand with a balloon.

For me, science is a journey – a fun-filled adventure that satisfies our curiosity of the universe. Think about it. What makes us enjoy playing soccer, chess, or Candy Crush? Games are fun because they involve elements of competition with others, even ourselves, and some require us to cooperate with one or more people. This sense of competition and camaraderie are essentially what makes us enjoy playing games.

The Dynamic Earth Games, an Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) series of board games and card games about natural hazards, use these...

Submitted on 18 Feb 2019 by:

On 29 July 2018, Lombok was struck by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake, killing 20 people. A week later, an even stronger earthquake of magnitude 6.9 devasted the island. Strong aftershocks continued to rock the Indonesian island, quickly transforming the popular tourist paradise into “hell on earth”.

In an episode of Channel NewsAsia’s Insight titled "Lombok: A Shattered Paradise", aired on 7 September 2018, Prof Sieh provided insights on how tectonic plate movements could result in tsunamis, volcanic activities, as well as devastating earthquakes. Using the analogy of a cracked windshield on a car, Prof Sieh explained how aftershocks are produced from faults during an earthquake. In some instances, an aftershock can trigger a more powerful earthquake. This is possibly what...

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 24 Oct 2018 by:

Let’s face it – the use of plastics has been our way of life. How many of us (at least those in our twenties) can recall going to the wet market with our parents when we were young without using a single plastic bag? Probably none. That’s the way we were brought up.

But just because something has become habitual and is a social norm does not mean that it is right, or that it has to stay that way.

The effects of plastic pollution today are not unfamiliar to most. We see news of marine animals ingesting or being trapped in plastic debris, all over social and mainstream media. We know of studies that have found that microplastics are making their way into our food chain[1][2].

But exactly how much of this can we attribute to our daily lives? It is not common that we...

Submitted on 10 Oct 2018 by:

Published in Nature Geosciences on 1 October 2018, new research by a team of scientists from the Victoria University of Wellington and the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) has revealed how understanding the events leading up to the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake may lead to a different approach to forecasting earthquakes.

The Kaikoura earthquake, which measured Mw 7.8 in magnitude, had struck the South Island of New Zealand in 2016. It resulted in a rupture that stretched over 200 kilometres (km), ripping through 21 faults – a world record for the most number of faults observed to rupture in a single earthquake event.

It is now rightly regarded as the most complex earthquake ever to be studied, and has...

Submitted on 12 Jul 2018 by:

Leading an international study on the vulnerability of salt marshes in the United Kingdom (UK), scientists from the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) at Nanyang Technological University warn that the enhanced rates in sea-level rise are likely to destroy the marshlands found in the UK sooner than previously thought. 

In a paper published in Nature Communications on 12 July 2018, the team led by Professor Benjamin Horton, Principal Investigator at EOS, found that...

Submitted on 11 May 2018 by:

On 3 September 2017, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) conducted its sixth underground nuclear test at the Punggye-ri test site. In collaboration with scientists from Germany, USA, and China, my colleagues from the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) and I published our findings in Science on 11 May 2018, revealing the complex physical processes associated with the nuclear test.

We found that the top of the mountain experienced a rise, collapse, and compaction at different time scales after the explosion. The explosive yield from the nuclear detonation with seismic and geodetic modeling was between 120-304 kilotons of TNT, which is more than 10 times the power...