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Reducing Tsunami Risk in the Western Indian Ocean

A Regional Conference in Muscat, Oman

Jointly organised by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO and
Oman's Directorate General of Meteorology, Public Authority for Civil Aviation
22-23 March 2015

The launch of a new warning system occasions this regional conference, which will examine the science and technology of reducing tsunami risk from the Makran Subduction Zone. The conference themes include the sources, history, and inundation modelling of Makran tsunamis. The expected outcome is to improve the understanding of tsunami hazards and warning strategies for shores of the western Indian Ocean.


ENIGMATIC HAZARD


The Makran Subduction Zone, an active boundary between tectonic plates, poses the main tsunami hazard in the western Indian Ocean, but the nature of this hazard is still poorly understood. The plate-boundary thrust in the eastern part of the zone produced a great earthquake and associated tsunami in 1945, and an upper-plate fault produced an inland earthquake that was followed by a small tsunami in September 2013. The proposed sources of these documented tsunamis include tectonic deformation, submarine slides, and mud volcanoes. The 1945 tsunami caused hundreds of confirmed fatalities, mainly in what is now Pakistan. Whether the zone produces large tsunamis in Iran and Oman is an open question. The zone is regarded, however, as capable of producing large waves that would reach adjoining shores in a few tens of minutes. Such fast-arriving waves add to the challenges of tsunami warning and tsunami education.


WARNING SYSTEM


The Sultanate of Oman will begin operating an early warning system in early 2015. The system is designed for the water-related hazards that the country faces. In addition to Makran tsunamis, Oman is subject to far-field tsunamis from the Sunda Trench, tropical cyclones, and flash floods. Tropical cyclones in Oman caused more than 60 fatalities in 2007 (Gonu) and an estimate 727 deaths in 1890. Most years produce flash floods that pose hazards to life and property along wadis.
Under a 2009 agreement with Oman's Ministry of Transport and Communication, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO has been providing technical support for the National Multi Hazard Early Warning System (NMHEWS) of Oman under the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA). Beginning in 2010, the IOC and the Omani government have collaborated in developing, as part of NMHEWS, a Tsunami Early Warning System (TEWS). The system includes monitoring, data processing, Standard Operating Procedures. Currently, the NMHEWS project is expected to be fully operational by early 2015.


CONFERENCE


DGMET and UNESCO-IOC invite papers for presentation at a two-day conference on tsunamis in the western Indian Ocean and on coping with the risks through the end-to-end Early Warning System. The papers are to be written in English and will be reviewed by the conference's Scientific Committee. Accepted papers will be sponsored for publication in a mainstream scientific journal.
This conference will dovetail with a regular session of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/IOTWS) that is scheduled to take place within the same period in Muscat.
The conference will bring together modellers, geologists, and seismologists and related professionals who are studying tsunami sources in the western Indian Ocean, as well as construction and infrastructure planning specialists, and communication and social science experts. The gathering will facilitate scientific and technical collaboration on diverse monitoring systems and multi-disciplinary research. These expected outcomes are intended to yield better understanding of tsunami generation in the western Indian Ocean and greater efficacy of the region's early warning systems.
Abstracts, due 30 September 2014, will be reviewed the Scientific Committee. Authors will be notified by 1 December 2014. Full papers, due 30 January 2015, will be considered for publication in a special section of a mainstream journal.


SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEE


Brian F. Atwater U.S. Geological Survey
Sam Hettiarachchi University of Moratuwa
Klaus Peter Koltermann Moscow State University
Jörn Lauterjung GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam
Ghazi al Rawas Sultan Qaboos University
Vasily Titov National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Sultan Al-Yahyai Oman Directorate General of Meteorology

 

ORGANIZING COMMITTEE

 

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