Join our adventure in The Kingdom of Tonga

C Band and P waves

By Scot.  Well as my time here is progressing along, I am getting into more and more interesting things.  As many of you know I am currently working for a Ministry office, which is like working for the Department of … in the States.  I am mainly doing IT work, but now various things are changing and I am taking on differing responsibilities for different parts of the Ministry.

So the latest of these opportunities is getting to work with the Geology department of Tonga.  Their responsibilities consist of various areas like hydrology, mineral, oil, and gas exploration, and maybe most importantly monitoring seismic activity.  I say this because this is probably one of the most seismically active places on the planet.  There are several earthquakes that I feel each week and several more that I don’t feel because I am doing something else that takes my mind off of my surroundings.  There was a 7.1 magnitude quake here about a month ago and if that doesn’t mean anything to you, then think about the quake in San Francisco in 1987 which was a 7.1. Now obviously that quake was much more shallow and on a transverse fault boundary, but still it’s kinda cool to sit through a 7.1 quake.  Just imagine yourself sitting on a boat, but you are sitting on the floor in your house.  There was a 8.? in 2006 here in Tonga with the epicenter was in Ha’apai, which is the next island group north of Tongatapu and Eua.  It is said that the island group dropped by nearly 18 inches after this quake.

So why doesn’t anyone hear about these enormous earthquakes?  It’s simple: no one gets hurt.  There are no large buildings here to be destroyed, the earthquakes are deep within the earth, and to anyone’s recent memory they don’t typically cause tsunamis (although it could and it would devastate Tonga if one rolled through).  But at any rate, it is of great interest to the region to keep track of these activities and to share information between seismically active island nations in the region.  The JICA and Japanese scientists are funding seismic stations here in Tonga and in Fiji to encourage dissemination of information and it is probably the first step in developing a Tsunami early warning system in the region.

So how do I fit into this?  Well it just so happens that I have been asked to start assisting with mapping the seismic data for visualization of seismic events over time.  The Japanese have come to to teach how to install and maintain remote (I mean really remote in some cases) seismic stations and the Tongans asked me to join in.  It’s pretty cool and I may get to travel a bit to help with this maintenance.  I have past satellite installation experience so it seems like it might come in handy.

I’ll keep you updated.

1 Comment»

  Bill wrote @

Hey do you guys need any other stuff sent your way? Soy sauce? Beef tallow? Let us know and we’ll send you a slim package.

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