Indonesia tsunami’s power surprises scientists

Indonesia tsunami’s power surprises scientists

“It’s heartbreaking when you know the technology is there,” says CITRIS Policy Lab affiliate scholar Louise Comfort, who has been working to bring new tsunami sensors to Indonesia.

New York Times: Scientists expressed surprise at the size of the tsunami that devastated the Indonesian city of Palu on Friday, saying an earthquake like the one that preceded it would not necessarily spawn such destructive waves.

“We expected it might cause a tsunami, just not one that big,” said Jason Patton, a geophysicist who works for a consulting firm, Temblor, and teaches at Humboldt State University in California.

But he added, “When events like this happen, we are more likely to discover things that we haven’t observed before.”

The 7.5-magnitude quake, which struck in the early evening, was centered along the coast of the island of Sulawesi about 50 miles north of Palu. Shortly afterward — within 30 minutes by some accounts — waves as high as 18 feet crashed ashore in the city, destroying buildings, smashing vehicles and killing hundreds of people.