Articles | Volume 10, issue 12
Research article
20 Dec 2010
Research article |  | 20 Dec 2010

Real-time earthquake monitoring for tsunami warning in the Indian Ocean and beyond

W. Hanka, J. Saul, B. Weber, J. Becker, P. Harjadi, Fauzi, and GITEWS Seismology Group

Abstract. The Mw = 9.3 Sumatra earthquake of 26 December 2004 generated a tsunami that affected the entire Indian Ocean region and caused approximately 230 000 fatalities. In the response to this tragedy the German government funded the German Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System (GITEWS) Project. The task of the GEOFON group of GFZ Potsdam was to develop and implement the seismological component. In this paper we describe the concept of the GITEWS earthquake monitoring system and report on its present status. The major challenge for earthquake monitoring within a tsunami warning system is to deliver rapid information about location, depth, size and possibly other source parameters. This is particularly true for coast lines adjacent to the potential source areas such as the Sunda trench where these parameters are required within a few minutes after the event in order to be able to warn the population before the potential tsunami hits the neighbouring coastal areas. Therefore, the key for a seismic monitoring system with short warning times adequate for Indonesia is a dense real-time seismic network across Indonesia with densifications close to the Sunda trench. A substantial number of supplementary stations in other Indian Ocean rim countries are added to strengthen the teleseismic monitoring capabilities. The installation of the new GITEWS seismic network – consisting of 31 combined broadband and strong motion stations – out of these 21 stations in Indonesia – is almost completed. The real-time data collection is using a private VSAT communication system with hubs in Jakarta and Vienna. In addition, all available seismic real-time data from the other seismic networks in Indonesia and other Indian Ocean rim countries are acquired also directly by VSAT or by Internet at the Indonesian Tsunami Warning Centre in Jakarta and the resulting "virtual" network of more than 230 stations can jointly be used for seismic data processing. The seismological processing software as part of the GITEWS tsunami control centre is an enhanced version of the widely used SeisComP software and the well established GEOFON earthquake information system operated at GFZ in Potsdam ( This recently developed software package (SeisComP3) is reliable, fast and can provide fully automatic earthquake location and magnitude estimates. It uses innovative visualization tools, offers the possibility for manual correction and re-calculation, flexible configuration, support for distributed processing and data and parameter exchange with external monitoring systems. SeisComP3 is not only used for tsunami warning in Indonesia but also in most other Tsunami Warning Centres in the Indian Ocean and Euro-Med regions and in many seismic services worldwide.