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Indonesia: Living Dangerously in an Active Tectonic Construction Zone

Most of Indonesia is an active tectonic maelstrom as well as one of the most densely populated places on the planet. This dangerous combination is amplified by an overall lack of awareness of natural hazards in the region. More than 200 million people live in harm's way of highly explosive volcanoes, gigantic earthquakes, floods and tsunamis.

We have completed 25 field expeditions to various parts of Indonesia to assess, communicate and mitigate natural hazards. In the process, we have translated hundreds of records kept mostly by Dutch colonists of the major earthquakes and tsunamis in Indonesia as far back as the 16th century. We found evidence of > 200 destructive earthquakes and at least 104 tsunamis. One of the most common descriptions of damage in these records translates to earthquakes and tsunamis turning many cities into “rubble heaps”, multiple times. 'Sea Flood waves' (tsunamis) are noted with run-up heights > 40 meters, which washed away many coastal communities. Multiplying the problem is a 302% increase in population of Indonesia
 since 1950. Now that more people than ever are in harm's way even relatively small hazardous events claim many more lives and resources than in the past.  

Our humanitarian efforts to involve communities in assess, advise and act have saved thousands of lives (see success stories).


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This map shows the sites were we have conducted disaster mitigation research, monitoring and implementation of risk reduction interventions. At most of the red and black pin we have collected diverse types of data documenting who's at risk, made presentations at schools, community and government organizations, and led evacuation drills, influenced city zoning, better building construction and other risk reduction activities.

For more information about seismic hazards in eastern Indonesia see publications

For more information about seismic hazards of Ambon go to: 

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