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Message from the Director

MCEER Joins Multi-lateral Reconnaissance Team to Investigate the Effects of the Tsunami/Earthquake Tragedy in South Asia

image of south asia

In this image, developed by ImageCat, Inc., areas of potential devastation have been identified by cross referencing population data from NOAA’s DMSP sensor (in yellow and orange) with wave height modeled by Vasily Titov at NOAA and proximity to the coastline. The resulting areas (in red) are being used to prioritize the acquisition of high-resolution images from DigitalGlobe.

Ranked as one of the most catastrophic events in recent times, the Indonesian earthquake and subsequent tsunami is a natural disaster of an almost unimaginable size and scale. While most of us in the United States may not have been directly impacted by this disaster, as human beings we are touched by this tragedy and saddened by the devastating loss of life.

As an earthquake center, our vision is to help establish earthquake resilient communities. And, although MCEER does not have an active research program on the physical modeling of tsunami generation and propagation, we were able to make an immediate contribution to the disaster efforts by providing information via the MCEER and EQNet websites. In the coming weeks and months, we plan to apply our research on hospitals/lifelines, remote sensing, and disaster response and recovery to aid those affected by the disaster and to help them rebuild their communities.

Within a week of the South Asia disaster, MCEER sent Shubharoop Ghosh, of ImageCat, Inc., to join a team led by Prof. Fumio Yamazaki, Chiba University, and Dr. Pennung Warnitchai, Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, in partnership with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Earthquake Disaster Mitigation Research Center (EDM) from Japan, to Thailand from January 6-11, 2005. MCEER's reconnaissance work in Thailand complements EERI's activities in Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka. The focus of MCEER at this time is on the remote sensing perspective and social science aspects, and identification of damage using the VIEWS (Visualizing the Impacts of Earthquakes With Satellites) system. VIEWS is a notebook-based system which integrates GPS-registered digital video footage, digital photographs and observations with high-resolution satellite images of a disaster. It has been successfully deployed in other recent MCEER reconnaissance efforts, such as the 2003 Bam earthquake, 2004 south Florida hurricanes and 2004 Niigata, Japan earthquake. Because thousands of linear kilometers of remote beaches and villages were affected, response teams are relying heavily on remote sensing and GIS data.

We are eagerly awaiting findings from the reconnaissance team to more precisely identify other data collection and research opportunities related to the resilience of infrastructure and communities against multiple hazards of this type. The preliminary information collected by the reconnaissance team will be disseminated to MCEER investigators, industry partners and students through a keynote address by Mr. Ron Eguchi, President and CEO of ImageCat Inc., at the upcoming MCEER Annual Meeting in Sacramento, California, on February 25-26, 2005. MCEER will also provide regular research updates, presentation summaries, and other information related to the earthquake/tsunami event on its website at

—Michel Bruneau, Director

The Bulletin is a free publication offering articles on Center research, cooperative ventures, reports from conferences, educational activities, upcoming events, and reviews of new MCEER publications Fall/Winter 2004

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