Sulfur Mine at Kawah Ijen Volcano

Reassessing Jakarta’s seismic risk

The work of Indonesian and Australian scientists is resulting in re evaluation of Jakarta’s seismic risk by Indonesian Government agencies.

The team is scanning the Earth from thousands of kilometres in the air, right down to chemical traces found in rocks, as they hunt out telltale signs of future earthquakes and the damage they might do. They’ve highlighted a major new seismic threat for East Java as well as the tsunami threat to Bali, Lombok, Nusa Tenggara, and other coasts along the Flores Sea; and have identified active faults in the Nusa Tenggara region of Eastern Indonesia, measuring the rates of strain building up.

Dr Achraf Koulali, a Moroccan scientist based at the Australian National University, is conducting the data analysis and modelling, as part of a broad research team bringing the range of information together.

They’re using: Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites orbiting 20,000 kilometers above the Earth, which are continuously monitoring millimeter movements of the Earth’s crust; seismometers, which measure minute vibrations in the Earth as tectonic plates grind against one another; and mass spectrometers, which use chemical analysis to find the histories in rocks from the past.

The team is now focusing their attention westward, to the Indonesian island of Java, to uncover which of the many mapped faults are accumulating energy—and whether it could one day be released in a devastating earthquake.

The team involves researchers from the Institute of Technology Bandung, Australian National University, and the Indonesian Government department Badan Informasi Geospatial. It’s funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage grant that began in 2012, to improve understanding of Indonesia’s earthquake hazards and the country’s resilience to future seismic events.