Wednesday, 11 April 2012

India proves its scientific prowess as a regional tsunami service provider in the Indian Ocean

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, April 11: India on Wednesday proved its scientific prowess as a regional 
tsunami service provider (RTSP) exchanging a number of bulletins with over two dozen 
countries in the Indian Ocean on the tsunami wave movement in real time. And Hyderabad, 
where RTSP India is located, played the key role in keeping several national tsunami 
early warning centres posted of the amplitude of the tsunami waves as they traveled from 
the epicenter. The warning was withdrawn as the wave movement was not expected to trigger 
a tsunamigenic event.

India became an RTSP nation on October 12, 2011 and Wednesday’s 8.5 magnitude earthquake 
in the Indonesian island of Sumatra was the first major earthquake after the country 
joined the elite club of RTSP nations. There have been several small earthquakes since 
October 12 last year, but Wednesday’s earthquake rated as “great” by seismologists was 
the real first hand experience for tsunami scientists in India. The earthquake generated 
tsunami waves.

The tsunami team at the city-based Tsunami Early Warning Centre (TEWC) issued six public 
bulletins within three hours recording six earthquakes, three each in the north Indian 
Ocean and off the west coast of northern Sumatra. Only one of them was of 8.5 magnitude, 
the rest being 7 or lower than 7 on the Richter scale.

“The RTSP India monitored sea level gauges near the epicentre and reported tsunami wave 
activity. It was the first major earthquake after the Indian Ocean tsunami mock drill on 
October 12, 2012. We shared real time data with other RTSPs and countries in the Indian 
Ocean rim,” said Dr T Srinivas Kumar, head of the TEWC.

The TEWC located at the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) at 
Pragathinagar here provided seismic and tsunamigenic information with Australia, 
Bangladesh, Comoros, France (La RĂ©union), India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, 
Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Seychelles, 
Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Yemen.  It was 08:38:35 UTC 
when the earthquake was recorded at a depth of 10 km off the west coast of northern 
Sumatra and within no time the information was passed on to the Indian Ocean rim 
countries.

The evaluation message from Hyderabad read: “Sea level observations have confirmed that a 
TSUNAMI WAS GENERATED”. Following the message the Indian Ocean rim countries put their 
official machinery on high alert and tsunami sirens were sounded in a few countries 
including Indonesia. The real time wave movement was also provided to the member nations.

Senior earthquake scientist Dr RK Chadha said since the earthquake in Sumatra was of a 
large magnitude, tremors were felt in several parts of south India including Chennai, 
Vijayawada, Nellore, Kakinada, Visakhapatnam, Ongole and Machilipatnam.

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