Former Southeast Faculty Member Involved with Tsunami Warning System

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., July 15, 2005ᾰDr. Issa El-Hussain, director of the Oman Seismic Network (OSN) at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) in Oman and former faculty member at Southeast Missouri State University, has been working to establish a warning system to help prevent disasters caused by Tsunamis in the Indian Ocean region. 

The system is called the Indian Ocean Tsunami Early Warning System (IOTWS). 

El-Hussain recently participated in the Intergovernmental Oceanic Commission (IOC) in Paris, France, and on the island of Mauritius.  There, he aided in establishing the IOTWS system for the countries surrounding the Indian Ocean. El-Hussain worked with the commission to create awareness procedures and form a governing group to mandate the warning system.  He also contributed in drafting a resolution submitted to the IOC general assembly meeting in early June in Paris.

“The IOTWS is capable of locating distance earthquakes in a few minutes after they occur,” El-Hussain said.  “The information is then sent to the meteorology department to check sea level gauges and determine if the waves were strong enough to generate a Tsunami wave.”

If the data received through the OSN registers earthquake waves strong enough to cause a Tsunami, the IOTWS watch will become a warning.  El-Hussain says the warning will be issued by a governmental official and the civil defense based on the advice of the scientist working with the warning system.

The OSN will be one of the sub-regional systems contributing seismic data to the IOTWS.  El-Hussain also is director of another regional system in Oman, named the Earthquake Monitoring System (EMC).

This system is a preliminary earthquake hazard map showing the qualitative areas where earthquakes have been recorded and felt by local residents in Oman. The EMC operates 13 seismographic stations as part of the OSN.  Ten of the 13 stations consist of short period seismographs which have been in operation since July 2001.  The remaining three are broadband seismographs which have been in operation since June 2004.

El-Hussain said he hopes the new warning system will help in eliminating disasters similar to the recent Tsunami after the Sumatra earthquake. 

“Because Tsunamis follow a large sub-sea earthquake that generates large vertical sea floor displacement,” he said, “having a multi-hazard warning system along with other tsunami awareness measures could have prevented or lessened the disasters after the Sumatra earthquake.”