Assessing tsunami hazard in Sumatra: A Royal Society summer science exhibit

Lead Research Organisation: University of Ulster
Department Name: Sch of Environmental Sciences

Abstract

Despite the occurrence of two very large earthquakes (December 2004 and March 2005) in the Sumatra region, the seismic hazard in the area remains extremely high. Specifically, the Dec. and March events increased stress on the Sumatra fault, which runs down the centre of the island, and on the Sunda Trench south of the March rupture. The latter region, beneath the Mentawai Islands, is of particular concern because the last large earthquakes in the area were in 1797 near Siberut Island and in 1833 farther south. The 1833 earthquake is known to have caused a devastating tsunami.The Geophysics Group at the University of Ulster is now trying to model the range of possible tsunamis that could be generated by a large earthquake on the Sunda Trench beneath the Mentawai Islands. Because neither the rupture length or slip distribution of this forthcoming event can be known in advance, we are creating a range of possible synthetic earthquakes constrained by the best current understanding of the past earthquake history of the region. For each synthetic earthquake, we will calculate the seafloor displacement caused by it; this, in turn, will allow us to compute expected wave heights and energies. Based on these calculations, we will produce maps of likely, and worst case, tsunamis in the Indian Ocean.This work will be exhibited at the Royal Society's 2006 summer science exhibitions in London (July) and Glasgow (Sept.). Using interactive computer displays, users will be able to explore the tsunamic consequences of different potential earthquakes in the region. Information on earthquake hazard, as well as on earthquake and tsunami preparedness, will also be provided and members of the team will be on hand to discuss our work and its consequences.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Enhanced knowledge of earthquakes and tsunamis
Sectors Environment

 
Description Buckingham Palace Science Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 1 day science exhibition for school kids during day and great and good in the evening. Based on Royal Society exhibit.

Led to participation in Institute of Physics program to try to attract kids to science
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006
 
Description French Embassy lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Pubic lecture at French embassy in London. Invitation followed discussion at London exhibition.

None that I'm aware of
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006
 
Description Royal Society exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This funding was to support a Royal Society summer science exhibit on earthquake and tsunami research. As detailed in the final report, the exhibit was very successful and it garnered significant interest from visitors.

See final report

Led to invitation to take part in Buckingham Palace Science Day and deliver French Embassy talk
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006