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German-Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System

German-Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System (GITEWS) is currently in use. Around 300 warning stations have been constructed across Indonesia, comprising GPS stations, tide gauges seismometers, and buoy systems.

By using a tsunami-simulation system, the data gained from these is transformed to a situation map delivering actual warning levels for the affected coastline areas.

Professor Reinhard Hüttl, Scientific Director of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, reported that the GITEWS works by the association of various sensors, in which the main element provides speedy and accurate identification and evaluation of earthquakes, using GPS measurements. The system delivers tsunami warning within five minutes, when it detects a submarine earthquake.

The 25th October Mentawai quake that occurred this year caused a tsunami ruining the upstream Pagai islands in the Sunda Arc hard. The initial waves reached the same time when the tsunami alert was sounded, which was 4 minutes and 46 seconds after the quake and took nearly 500 lives.

According to the system developers, about four tsunami cases were identified and warnings were provided, since September 2007. They explained that the residents of the off-shore islands, should be given proper and advanced training about how to react during such disasters; not only about the exact response on a tsunami alert, but also about the proper behaviour prior, during and after the earthquake.

The developers commented that the issue was with the buoys used in the system, since they did not provide adequate warning. The researchers thus anticipate to transfer the GITEWS buoys deeper into the open ocean for evaluating an ocean-wide tsunami affecting other countries neighboring the Indian Ocean.

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