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May 2012 Newsletter | SMS Tsunami Warning

Announcement: Our Early Warning System is now active!

Along with our first newsletter we are glad to announce that, after painstaking testing, we are finally ready! Our web-based Earthquake and Tsunami Warning System ( was officially launched on May 1st, 2012, and it is active now!

We monitor worldwide seismic activity for thousands of fans and members, so if you have an account with us, verify and update your current contact details (email address and phone number) so we can reach you, if ever needed.

Please remember that only Premium subscribers are enabled to receive instant Warnings to their phones by SMS Text message (GSM networks).

If you have a Free account, you may want to upgrade to Premium because:

  • you and your family members will receive unlimited SMS warnings to your mobile phones;
  • you will donate part of the membership fee (20% of it) to Red Cross or to some other NGO friend of ours;
  • the remaining funds will be used to make this project grow big. Earthquake awareness and preparedness are key factors to survival and we're striving to create the quickest, most reliable, efficient and affordable 1-to-1 warning system out there.
Get a Premium membership now!

April 2012: Significant earthquakes summary

April 2012 has been a pretty active month. USGS recorded 9 strong quakes across the globe with magnitude equal or superior to 6.5.

Two of these quakes were extremely powerful: located off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, a 8.6 followed by a 8.2 Sea-Quakes brought to mind the imminent danger of a tsunami and the devastating effect it may have on our lives and properties.

A Ocean-Wide Tsunami Warning was issued by all agencies and entire populations were relocated to higher grounds in Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Another earthquake, although smaller, was recorded off the Coast of Oregon, USA, and it was felt by people on the west coast of the US.

Please find a summary in the table below:

Significant Earthquakes (April 2012)
Table 1: April 2012 Significant Earthquakes (in red local, regional or ocean-wide tsunami warnings)

For detailed info, check out events in our Earthquake Toolbox at

In the spotlight: M-8.6 Seaquake, Northern Sumatra, Indonesia (11-Apr-2012)

One year and one month to the day after the devastating tsunami of March 11, 2011, in Japan, we witnessed another terrifying quake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, on April 11, 2012. A tsunami warning was posted by NOAA for most regions affected by the Boxing Day 2004’s tsunami. This earthquake originated in the same geographic region of the quake that caused the death of more than 220.000 people in 2004.

Thankfully a tsunami of similar strength was not generated and the warning was lifted 24 hours later. Warning buoys detected small tidal waves despite the magnitude of 8.6: the highest peak of the tsunami wave train was measured at 80cm along off the coast of Indonesia; no major damage was reported.

Two hours after the main shock was felt, the area was hit by a magnitude-8.2 aftershock, probably caused by slippage along the same 125-mile fault. The huge release of energy redistributed stress to other weak spots in the crust, making them more likely to cause future earthquakes.

"After an earthquake occurs along a fault, stress is released in parts. But then, part of this stress is redistributed to other parts of the fault. This means that they are now more likely to become unstable, with many subsequent earthquakes. Aftershocks can continue for weeks and months after the main shock, sometimes even years," said Bruce Malamud, an expert on natural hazards at King's College London (Source:

Strike-slip vs subduction
Image: Srike-slip and subduction plates movements

It’s interesting to compare this quake with the one that generated a 23m (80 foot) high tsunami in 2004.

Although both quakes were similar in origin and magnitude (8.6 vs 9.1), they differed in type. The 2012 event was a strike-slip quake as a result of tectonic plates grinding past one another with horizontal seafloor movement. This quake displaced less water and did not send giant waves around the Indian Ocean. The 2004 quake was a subduction quake: much more energy was released and an enormously larger quantity of water was shifted upwards from the sea bottom with the consequences that we all know.

Despite this difference the Sumatran earthquake of April 2012 is the biggest recorded strike-slip quake in modern history!

Tsunami 2004 affected areas
Image: Tsunami 2004 affected areas

Our website: Tips and Tricks

1. Check your phone number

Now that our website is up and running, don’t forget to check your account phone number, it’s very important that your number is written as a sequence of country code (with a "+" sign), mobile carrier code and contact number.

The correct number format to be used for our Warning System is: +1310123456 where:
  • +1 is the country code (in this case, the code is valid for the USA);
  • 310 is the area code for Santa Monica, California;
    PS: non-US carriers would have their own codes not related to geographic location
  • 123456 is your personal cell number

IMPORTANT: Please do not put any spaces, dashes or brackets between numbers.

Verify your phone number
Image: Verifying your phone number is correct.
2. Test your account

If you have a Free or Premium account, you can now send yourself both Email and SMS Warnings to test the system.
To make a test, just login your account, click on "Test Tool"; select Email or SMS Test message in the drop down menu and then click on the "Test Now" button. A confirmation message will be delivered within seconds!

The Test tool page
Image: The "Test tool page"

Tsunami Stories: How did an entire island survive the tsunami?

The people of Simeulue Island are smart. And they are survivors. Most of the the people of Simeulue Island, just 40 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake, survived the 2004 tsunami. But the people of Simeulue have been taught a simple lesson from their grandmothers, "If an earthquake comes, we must always go and look at the beach. If we see a low tide, we must run for the hills. " In 2004, the locals knew a "smong" was coming.

Simeulue Island
Image: Simeulue Island

On Simeulue island, off the western coast of Sumatra in Indonesia, in the Defayan language the word is smong means tsunami. And when they felt the earthquake and saw the low tide, they ran. And their lives were saved. Most of the 83,000 people survived. Even the buffalos knew something was wrong when the earthquake happened. The buffalo ran for the hills too.


Articles, News and Press releases of interest

Upcoming events

  • Japan Geoscience Union Meeting 2012
    May 20-25, 2012 at Makuhari Messe International Conference Hall, 2-1 Nakase, Mihama-ku, Chiba-city, 261-0023, Japan.
    Japan Geoscience Meeting
    After the mega-earthquake Japan in 2011 March, all of the academic associations in the membership of Japan Geosciences Union announced public declarations and inquired urgent researches, gave several assistances and supports for the Tsunami and earthquake affected area, and opened symposiums and workshops to the public. In this conference, we will discuss the academic collaboration for the urgent scientific investigation and data collection under the mega disaster, and the appropriate presentation and announce in the general public, and discuss how to take part in re-building the post mega-earthquake. In additionally, geography education, geoscience education and lifelong learning related with prevention education should be argued in the view of human dimension.
  • Natural Disaster Management course
    May 30 through June 22, 2012 at the University of Iceland, Earthquake Engineering Research Centre, Iceland.
    Natural Disaster Management
    The course is set in Árborg, in South Iceland. Iceland is an active volcanic island sitting on tectonic plate boundaries and the course is held in the wake of large scale earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, flooding, glacial bursts, and glacier retreat in South Iceland. The people and authorities in the region, and as evident during the Eyjafjallajökull eruption even in neighboring countries, need to learn to live with disaster risk and cope with disaster effects. This setting provides a perfect full-scale laboratory for studies of natural disasters and disaster management. This course provides an introductory overview of the disaster cycle, and examines local, national, and international roles in disaster management. Topics include multidisciplinary disaster cycle management, risk analysis, cost-benefit analyses of mitigation projects, and contingency planning for rescue, relief, and recovery. Following completion of the course, students will be able to lead or participate in multidisciplinary disaster management projects.
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The SMS Tsunami Warning Team