PacWave 18: preparing for the worst

By on 12 September, 2018

Bureau of Meteorology staff respond to an impending tsunami event during yesterday’s PacWave 18 exercise.

Government agencies in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania scrambled to respond to a tsunami event in a simulation of a powerful earthquake in the Pacific Ocean. 

Coordinated by the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre (JATWC), PacWave 18 simulated a tsunami impacting Australia’s eastern states following an earthquake south of the Solomon islands.

Established following the highly destructive tsunami on Boxing Day 2004, the JATWC uses resources from the Bureau of Meteorology and Geoscience Australia to detect and monitor regional tsunami threats.

Dr. Yuelong Miao, tsunami and storm surge manager at the Bureau of Meteorology, said that major inundation of Australian states and territories would have occurred if the event were real.

“Every second counts in responding to a tsunami, which is why we’ve deployed state of the art detection systems in the Indian and Pacific oceans and have a team of experts operating around the clock,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we can’t prevent tsunamis from occurring, but the expertise we provide gives our emergency services the best head start to protect lives and property.”

Dr. Jonathan Bathgate, senior seismologist at Geoscience Australia, said that around 50 potentially tsunamigenic earthquakes were detected annually, and the impact of a tsunami hitting low-lying areas on the Australian coast could be significant.

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