Earth Observatory Blog

Submitted on 25 Nov 2019 by:

Singapore, unlike Japan, does not have any volcanoes. However, our little sunny island is in proximity to 127 active volcanoes in Indonesia and 53 in the Philippines. This means that like Japan, Singapore too could be significantly affected by different types of volcanic hazards, making research on volcanoes an important area of study for both countries. Here’s how Singapore was once affected.

Singapore was impacted by volcanic ash in 1991 after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. And with that many volcanoes around the country, it is unlikely to be a one-off. As for Japan, it is in constant alert with its currently 110 active volcanoes. But, despite a very developed monitoring system, some eruptions – such as the 2014 Ontake eruption – still have...

Submitted on 05 Nov 2019 by:

Today is World Tsunami Awareness Day. It is a timely opportunity to create greater global awareness about tsunamis as a geological hazard. Before asking how we can stay safe (or safer) from tsunamis, we must first think about how we might improve on the resilience of our current and future infrastructure.

Let’s start by looking at what a tsunami is. A tsunami is a series of waves caused by an underwater earthquake, a volcanic eruption, a landslide, or meteorological processes (meteo-tsunamis). 

So why is SE Asia vulnerable to tsunami hazards? First of all, SE Asia lies in a complex tectonic setting that contains many fault systems and volcanoes. Coupled with a high population density and a tight network of infrastructure in coastal areas, one can imagine just how...

Submitted on 28 Sep 2019 by:

During the early evening of 28 September 2018, a magnitude-7.5 earthquake struck along the coast of northwestern Sulawesi, Indonesia. This region hosts a famous strike-slip fault system called the Palu-Koro Fault.

Even though this is one of the fastest slipping faults in the world, it has not produced many large earthquakes during historical times. The Palu-Koro Fault was therefore thought to have a high probability of a large and destructive earthquake, and so the occurrence of the 2018 quake in Sulawesi wasn’t very surprising.

However, the landsliding that was triggered by the earthquake turned out to be unexpectedly destructive. Soon after the earthquake, witnesses described entire villages south of Palu City sinking into mud and disappearing, and it was...

Submitted on 17 Sep 2019 by:

Many may still remember the powerful eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. It was one of the largest eruptions in recent history, and sent volcanic ash even as far as Singapore, over 2,400 kilometres (km) away. 

But what many do not know is that the thin layer of volcanic ash that had settled across Singapore could have been more severe. Typhoon Yunya (also known as Typhoon Diding) had struck the Philippines almost at the same time as the Mount Pinatubo eruption.

Previously, scientists had not investigated how the typhoon had affected the amount of ash that fell on Singapore. However, preliminary modelling results carried out by scientists at the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) and Asian...

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 10 Apr 2019 by:

Did my last blog post about the Dynamic Earth Games (DEG) leave you hungry for more details about the games? Well, I hope to satisfy your curiosity in this second post.

The Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) collaborated with BOHO Interactive and the Science Centre Singapore to develop seven different games. These fall into three broad categories:

Volcanoes and Typhoons, Assessing Risk, and Evacuation.

Volcanoes and Typhoons

The Dynamic Earth Games explain the science behind natural hazards with a strong focus on geology and meteorology. While playing the games, you will learn some of the signs of an impending volcanic eruption and the tools that...

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 06 Oct 2018 by:

Soputan Volcano in north Sulawesi erupts five days after the neighbouring magnitude-7.5 Palu earthquake – Was the eruption triggered by the earthquake?

An eruption from Soputan volcano commenced at 08:47 local time on 3 October 2018, producing a dense ash plume that rose 4 kilometres (km) above the summit and drifted west and northwest. This event occurred five days after the magnitude-7.5 Palu earthquake that caused a disastrous tsunami. The epicentre was located at a depth of 10 km and about 600 km to the west-southwest of Soputan volcano.

Could the eruption have been triggered by the earthquake?

Earthquakes and volcanoes are intimately linked through plate tectonics. Examples of earthquake-volcano interactions namely include the 1975 eruption of Kīlauea...

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