Learn from When the Earth Moves

Learn from When the Earth Moves

Over the past five years, Rawlinson’s team in the Department of Earth Sciences has worked with Indonesian researchers at the Institute of Technology Bandung (ITB), led by Professor Sri Widiantoro, to build a map of Borneo’s earthquake hazards.

When the location of the new capital was announced, the partnership deployed an additional set of seismic stations near the proposed site of the city, funded by the British Council through the Newton Impact Award.

The location of the new capital is across the Makassar Strait from the tectonically active island of Sulawesi, which has implications for seismic hazards in eastern Borneo. The researchers’ goal was to identify any previously undetected active faults, image the shallow structure beneath the proposed site in detail, and use the results to better understand the seismic risks in and around the new capital.

“If we were to build a new city, our work could inform building codes and disaster management planning, which would help save lives and reduce economic losses,” Rawlinson explained.

A researcher from the Institute of Technology Bandung in Indonesia installs a seismic station near the proposed site of the new capital (Source: ITB)

A researcher from the Institute of Technology Bandung in Indonesia installs a seismic station near the proposed site of the new capital (Source: ITB)

After a year of measuring seismic activity, researchers are now analyzing data from seismometers at the site of the proposed capital. “Fortunately, the early analysis has not revealed anything unexpected,” Rawlinson says. “There is no evidence yet of active faults.” Or unusual seismicity.” In the region.”

At the same time, the combined results of previous and recent works have provided unprecedented seismic data coverage of the area, which can benefit the ongoing construction of the city.

Nick Rawlinson teaches a class at Bandung Institute of Technology (Credit: Nick Rawlinson)

Nick Rawlinson teaches a class at Bandung Institute of Technology (Credit: Nick Rawlinson)

Critically, to maximize the impact of the project, Widiantoro will work with the National Seismic Study Center (PuSGeN) of the Ministry of Public Works and Housing (PUPR), which is responsible for developing seismic hazard maps in Indonesia. This institution also assists the Indonesian President in formulating policies and coordinating on planning and infrastructure development of roads, buildings and other infrastructure.

“Our data is being used to improve regional probabilistic seismic hazard maps,” Widiantoro says. “PUPR has been very supportive of this work and our collaboration with Cambridge.”

“The data is available in a regional open-access information database, which will be crucial to establishing appropriate building codes and guiding disaster management planning.”

Professor Sri Widiantoro, Bandung Institute of Technology

“Ultimately, our goal is to help decision-makers understand seismic risks to ensure the long-term viability of the new capital,” Rawlinson adds. “The long-term goal of the partnership is to continue to improve seismic science across Indonesia, and prepare for the next time the Earth moves.”

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