Earth Observatory Blog

Submitted on 15 May 2021 by:

A strong earthquake struck the Nias region off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, on 14 May 2021 at approximately 1:33pm (Singapore time). According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the magnitude-6.6 earthquake occurred at a depth of about 10 kilometres.

Based on information provided by the USGS, yesterday’s earthquake occurred within the Indo-Australian plate, where it bends before subducting under the Eurasian plate. As the plate bends, it can break and generate what is known as an outer-rise earthquake.

Yesterday’s earthquake is not a megathrust event as it did not occur at the boundary between the two tectonic plates, unlike the 2004 Great Sumatran earthquake. "It demonstrates how subduction zones are not just simple plate boundaries but...

Submitted on 21 Apr 2021 by:

Visitors to the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) will be familiar with the exhibition of polar and tropical marine wildlife by some of the world’s leading photographers.

The driving force behind the ‘Elysium Epic Trilogy’ exhibition is Mr Michael Aw, the entrepreneurial underwater photographer who organised three expeditions to the Arctic, Antarctic, and Coral Triangle to document the species featured in this unique exhibition.

The locations of three disparate Elysium expeditions share one common feature – they are all in the front line of climate change. Of his experiences in the Antarctic, the Arctic, and the Coral Triangle, Michael set the scene: “It is humbling and challenging because we can see what we will lose and how much or how little we can do about...

Submitted on 26 Mar 2021 by:

Ostracods are aquatic crustaceans that range from 0.2 to 30 milimetres in size. Did you know that that these tiny creatures, also known as seed shrimp, can be used to indicate the pollution levels in lagoons in Southeast Asia?

This is the main finding of our new study published in Environmental Pollution, which uses ostracods collected from a coastal lagoon in Vietnam.

Ostracods produce a skeleton on the outside of their bodies that consists of two valves that open and close like a mussel shell. The shells are formed of calcium carbonate and are easily fossilised in the sediments in which they live. Ostracods first appeared 485 million years ago and their species can be found in a wide...

Submitted on 18 Mar 2021 by:

Singapore is known as one of the safest places in the world. Why, then, would we choose Singapore as a case study for developing new methods for disaster risk reduction?

People tend to be surprised when a natural hazard occurs and shocked when disastrous impacts follow. We wanted to create a new framework that can help preempt such surprise. We developed a guided process to explore potential outcomes that we do not naturally want to consider due to our optimistic human nature. And, regarded as one of the world’s safest countries, where could be a more surprising location for a disaster to happen other than Singapore?

First, we needed to better quantify and understand the past disasters Singapore has experienced. We started by looking into the past records of...

Submitted on 10 Mar 2021 by:

Palm oil is indispensable to us but it is associated with environmental and social problems, such as land conflicts, deforestation, and haze. Does certifying palm oil help alleviate some of these problems?

A team led by Assistant Professor Janice Lee, a Principal Investigator at the Earth Observatory of Singapore, recently published a study in Environmental Research Letters presenting the impacts of palm oil certification on the environment and the development of Indonesia.

The team evaluated the outcomes from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a non-profit organisation that developed a set of criteria for palm oil certification. While certification systems work to protect the...

Submitted on 22 Feb 2021 by:

Last December, the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) celebrated the 10th anniversary of its collaboration with the Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM).

Over the past decade, EOS and CVGHM have shared knowledge, expertise, and adventures through fieldwork, workshops, and publications.

"This long-term collaboration has enabled us to refine eruption histories, unravel magma storage conditions and eruption dynamics, further our understanding of related geophysical signals, and evaluate the implications in terms of hazards in one of the most populated and volcanologically active regions of the world," said Assistant Professor Caroline Bouvet de la Maisonneuve, a Principal Investigator at EOS.

Dr Hanik Humaida, Head of the...

Submitted on 04 Feb 2021 by:

Some are round, some are elongated, and their colours vary from off-white to shades of grey, but they all come from the seafloor of Singapore dating back to 10,000 years ago. Tiny shells, remnants of long-dead organisms, were carefully picked and arranged to compose beautiful award-winning photographs. 

Ms Yu Ting Yan, a PhD candidate working with the Coastal Lab from the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), was recently recognised for two beautiful photographs featuring microscopic shells from Singapore.

Her image of a perfect heart-shaped assemblage of shells was selected as a winner of the 2020/21 Microfossil Image Competition organised by The...

Submitted on 29 Jan 2021 by:

A series of deadly earthquakes struck the Indonesian island of Lombok over three weeks in August 2018, causing widespread damage. These earthquakes were unusual because there were two magnitude-6.9 mainshock events that were each preceded by a smaller foreshock, instead of a single mainshock. The complexity of the earthquake sequence caused great anxiety about when another powerful earthquake might occur.

In our study published in the journal Science Advances, we demonstrate how the complexity of this earthquake sequence is due to the influence of Gunung Rinjani, Lombok’s large active volcano, on the geological fault that hosted the earthquakes.

After the first powerful magnitude-6.4 earthquake...

Submitted on 15 Jan 2021 by:

A moderate earthquake struck western Sulawesi, Indonesia, on 15 January 2021 at approximately 2:28am (SGT). According to the United States Geological Survey, the Mw 6.2 event occurred about 36 kilometres (km) south of Mamuju on the island of Sulawesi at a depth of 18 km.

This event follows a smaller Mw 5.7 foreshock event that occurred approximately 12 hours earlier at about the same location.

Today’s event is due to compressional forces on a fault system that has left a visible record in the topography and geology. However, not many earthquakes have happened on this fault system in the recent past. “The east-dipping thrust fault here is part of an obscure system of faults that extends offshore and is not well studied,” said Dr Kyle Bradley, a Principal...

Submitted on 29 Dec 2020 by:

Dear EOS Community,

This year has been an extraordinary one and has been challenging for many, but it has demonstrated how resilient and innovative we can be in response to unique circumstances during this “new normal”. We continued addressing critical questions in Earth science, conducted more research in Singapore than ever before, and brought our science to the public with two exhibitions and a documentary series in collaboration with our partners.

EOS Leadership Transition

I am indebted to Director Emeritus Kerry Sieh for founding EOS and for inviting me to be part of the team in Singapore three years ago. Kerry’s legacy is a world-class research institute, dedicated to...