A French expedition to the Indian Ocean to predict tsunamis

A French oceanographic ship with an international team of scientists on board will leave Jakarta on Monday to explore the depths of the Indian Ocean off the Indonesian island of Sumatra to predict tsunamis in a single area.

During a one-month mission, more than 30 scientists, mainly French, but also Indonesians and Singaporeans, as well as students from research institutes in Southeast Asia, will study plate tectonics in an area where the world’s most violent earthquakes have been recorded, a French official told AFP on Sunday.

These teams will go to the Wharton Basin, part of the Indian Ocean where a new tectonic plate may be forming following an earthquake of magnitude 8.6 in 2012 off Sumatra, at the heart of the Indo-Australian plate.

“The first conclusions show that there are breaks within the plate,” said Nicolas Gascoin, attaché of scientific and technological cooperation of the French Embassy in Jakarta, after a conference that gathered several scientists on Sunday.


“There is no other example in the world where we find this type of rupture and therefore of the epicenter, which can generate tsunamis,” he said, “he added. Exploring this area is “a way to predict what can happen in five years, ten years, in the Indian Ocean.”

On board the Marion Dufresne, a multi-purpose ship belonging to the French Southern and Antarctic Territories (TAAF), an overseas territory, scientists will “use advanced seabed mapping technology to study not only funds up to 5000 meters deep but also 40 km below the sediments of the ocean floor, “said Professor Satish Singh of the Geophysical Institute of the Globe of Paris.

The cost of this mission, carried out in cooperation with Indonesia, amounts to five million euros, financed at about 80% by the French State, according to Gascoin.

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