CTBTO contributes to tsunami
warning following the devastating
earthquake in Japan

VIENNA - Monitoring stations belonging to the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) contributed to the rapid alerts issued by tsunami warning centres in the Pacific region following the devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan  on Friday 11 March. The data from about 20 seismic and hydroacoustic stations were sent directly and in real time to seven warning centres in the region, including in Japan and the United States (Hawaii). This helped the centres issue swift alerts to Japan’s neighbours as well as to the wider Pacific region.  “At the time of this terrible disaster we extend our sympathies to the people of Japan who are devastated by this event.  At the CTBTO we will continue to make our contribution to mitigating disaster and saving lives to the utmost of our ability,” said Lassina Zerbo, Director of the International Data Centre and officer-in-charge of the CTBTO.

The CTBTO monitoring data have proven to be the most reliable and speediest data, with up to three minutes lead-time compared with most data from other sources.  The quick transmission of the data to tsunami warning centres in the Pacific region increases the ability for them to issue more rapid warnings both in their regions and worldwide. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty bans all nuclear explosions.  The CTBTO is building a 337-facility network to monitor the planet for compliance with the Treaty.  When complete, seismic, hydroacoustic and infrasound stations, will monitor underground, the oceans and the atmosphere, and radionuclide stations will sniff the air, for any sign of a nuclear explosion.

Monitoring data have a number of other possible uses including tsunami warning, research on the Earth’s core, monitoring of earthquakes and volcanoes, climate change research, atmospheric monitoring and biological research. The CTBTO is currently contributing data from close to 50 stations to regional tsunami warning centres in Japan and the United States (Alaska and Hawaii), and to national tsunami warning centres in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and France. 

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