Seismic array may lead to improved tsunami detection for the Asia-Pacific region

July 23rd, 2008 - 4:18 pm ICT by ANI  

Canberra, July 23 (ANI): A new seismic array that has been proposed for north-west Australia and improved computer modeling can help in faster and more accurate tsunami predictions in the Asia-Pacific region.

According to a report by ABC News, the seismic array would consist of at least 10 seismographs to be built near Marble Bar.

The system will also incorporate improved computer fault rupture models for faster tsunami prediction.

Dr Barry Drummond, head of Earth Monitoring at Geoscience Australia said that the tsunami-monitoring group is currently using a seismic array at Tennant Creek, in the Northern Territory, to analyze earthquakes in the region.

Drummond said that because seismic waves arrive at each seismograph at slightly different times, scientists are able to glean more information about the earthquake.

At the moment if an earthquake happens, we get the magnitude and location, he said.

But he said that parameters such as the length of the rupture, how fast it occurs and in which direction it travels will determine where the tsunami is produced.

Using the seismic array technology the group has determined the 2004 Boxing Day earthquake and subsequent tsunami, which devastated south-east Asia, was 1100 kilometers long and lasted for 610 seconds traveling at less than two kilometers per second.

It also estimated that the recent earthquake in China traveled 300 kilometers for 100 seconds at three kilometers per second.

The success of determining this information has given impetus to the push to build a seismic array near Marble Bar, said Drummond.

An assessment is currently underway and if successful, the new facility would focus on the area south of Java.

Drummond said that the facility will provide extra time authorities for more time to alert the public of an approaching tsunami.

If a tsunami-causing earthquake occurred in the region to the north or east of Australia we would know about it and where it occurred within 6 minutes. Within 10 minutes we would know how big it is, and from that we would have an idea of the size of the tsunami we could be dealing with, he said.

We now access information in a minute or two which just 20 years ago would have taken hours or even days to generate, and this means Emergency Management Australia will now receive a warning at least 90 minutes before any tsunami reaches Australia, he added.

The current Australian Tsunami Warning System consists of a range of sea level gauges that detect the tsunami in deep water.

This network will be extended with one in the Coral Sea, and two located south and east of Java soon to be installed. (ANI)

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