Living in Prone Areas of Earthquake and Tsunami, Do Not Forget the History

“Do not forget the history,” a main sentence said by Professor Ronald Albert Harris, Ph.D. from Brigham Young University (BYU). Long presentation of the field research for 6 weeks hypnotized to imagined on a thought, are we who lives in the prone areas of earthquake and tsunami really prepared when the disasters occur.

ron 6Ron, a nickname of the Professor, reminds us back to those who live in Indonesia not to forget the history, such as the expression of the first President of the Republic of Indonesia, Soekarno. Ron said that what happened in the past could happen again in the present. It is proven when he and his colleagues wrote an article in a scientific journal related to the potentially huge earthquake around the Sumatra fault. Two years later, earthquakes with large magnitude occurred to cause a devastating tsunami that hit Aceh and surrounding areas.

Ron said that based on the historical record of 1,500 years there have been more than 1,000 major earthquake histories, over 95 tsunamis and 1,300 volcanic eruptions. The records were obtained from various sources from historical records of researchers during the Dutch East Indies colonization, data from USGS to his research.

Sumber: Ron Harris

One interesting thing about Ron profile when he as a scientist criticizes himself. He saw himself unable to contribute greatly for saving lives. This happened when he had written about the potential of the earthquake and tsunami but was not followed by further steps to mitigate the exposed population. Then he saw that he not only stopped at the results of a study published in a scientific journal, but much more important how to communicate the results of the research to public.

Ron said that communication was very important to follow up a scientific study. “There is no communication, no one in Aceh knows about the tsunami,” added Ron explaining why many fatalities during the earthquake and tsunami hit in 2004. If a scientist writes the results of research in scientific journals, fellow scientists who will access in the journal. End to end of the research  according to him is to saving lives.

The presentation entitled ‘Bridges over Troubled Waters’, Ron’s favorite song, gives a hope that the results of his research can be accessed by many parties, communities and stakeholders, as a form of education so that we can all respond appropriately if earthquakes and tsunamis occur.

Ron sees that there has been a gap between the technical side (hard side) and the social (soft side). Technical references to tsunami risk assessments while social in the context of risk reduction. During his research at some point, he and the team raised the message of how people in the tsunami-prone and tsunami-prone areas knew what to do. When in Pacitan, Ron initiated a message of 20 – 20 – 20. That number is not just a number that then appears just like that. But this figure is based on scientific calculations that take into account the duration of the earthquake, the speed of the tsunami and the evacuation area is safe. Then what is 20 – 20 – 20? 20 seconds of earthquake (5 km / det x 200 s = 100 km break zone), 20 minutes evacuation (tsunami velocity) and 20 meter altitude (tsunami model indicates 20 m wave run-up). But Ron said that the idea of ​​the message must be adaptable to the context of the region. “It may be in Ambon 20 – 10 – 20, or in Bali 20 – 20 – 10,” said Ron who always presented his research results to the local government where Ron and the team conducted field research.

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Sumber: Ron Harris
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Sumber: Ron Harris

In related with a mitigation process, Ron told that the community group in Waingapu, East Sumba, did not know the history of the tsunami in his region. He explained that it could happen because the generation that had lived in the region had had never experienced an earthquake or tsunami; Or the earthquake and tsunami cycles had been ‘sleeping’ in a previous period. Ron explained that, based on research so far, which showed the pattern of sleep-wake-sleep cycle, and might wake up in the following period. Or, people in Bali who do not know that they live in an ancient tsunami precipitate. The professor reminded that perhaps most of the people had marked a major post-earthquake tsunami, whereas a large but long-lasting quake could cause deadly tsunami.

Meanwhile, when the community was given a questionnaire on what approaches were desired during early warning. Most of the people in Pelabuhan Ratu, Pacitan, and Pangandaran chosed sirens. A critical question is what happens; are all the installed sirens functioning properly? On the other hand, when citizens know the signs on the direction of evacuation, critical questions arise as to when they should evacuate. Ron’s idea is to add a board like 20 – 20 – 20 under the evacuation direction board.

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Sumber: Ron Harris

Which should be addressed seriously about research studies Prof. Ron about Trench Java and the lesser Sunda Islands. According to him, there is no great earthquake for 111 years after Krakatoa. During this time the people of Indonesia live in a period without earthquake and tsunami activity, while the population increases 10 times. “90% of Indonesians live in danger areas,” Ron said.



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