Closest ocean earthquake yet…(to Bali’s south coast)

On Thursday, Nov 22, shortly after 5 p.m., our house shuddered briefly but quite emphatically, as if a giant firecracker had gone off underneath the foundations. The quake was only a 5.0 (according to the USGS) but the reason it was a good jolt was because it was the closest earthquake yet, only 10 kilometers or so directly south of the Bukit:

The recorded depth of 74 kilometers is middling deep, the one off Japan in 2011 occurring at 42 km and the one off Aceh in 2004 at 10 km, but hey, who’s gonna quibble? Can you imagine if it’d been a 9.0? Fellow writer Tim McHugh, who lives half the year in Japan, was at his house there when the 2011 earthquake hit. The largest of the tsunami waves, he said, was recorded at 41 meters. How high is the Bukit cliff? There’s something like 300 steps down to Green Ball beach, and if each step is say 10 inches average, then that’s 250 feet. There would have been only minutes before the resort hotels and spas and villages along the Bukit cliff got a real big splash. And Kuta and Sanur? Fuggedaboutit.

There’s supposed to be a tsunami warning system in place along Bali’s coasts, with sirens, but I doubt they would be sounded in time. In fact, I wonder if the sirens would work at all. McHugh said in Japan that his cell phone went off with an automatic warning from Japan’s tsunami warning center. You’d think the Indonesian government could do the same, but then again, this is a country where at traffic light intersections, the government has put up electronic signs that give drivers stopped on a red the heads up for the green: “3…2…1…GO!!!“. Have you seen those electronic signs? Everybody starts gunning their engines on the “3” and tires squeal on the GO!!! Pity the pedestrian caught in the crosswalk…

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7 Responses to Closest ocean earthquake yet…(to Bali’s south coast)

  1. Bukit Bear says:

    If those Bukit cliffs were wiped out – God help the folk in the flats…

    • When I did volunteer relief work in Aceh a week or so after the 2004 tsunami, I was stationed in Meulaboh, a coastal town. Part of the town was built on a point of land. Survivors told me that the largest tsunami wave wrapped in around the point, left and right, and the two hands clapped together in the center in an enormous explosion.

      • Bukit Bear says:

        Imagine… the Bukit becomes an island again as the tsunami sweeps through from Jimbaran to Benoa – cutting it off from the mainland – no roads in – boat access only. You switch the house from PLN to solar and install rainwater tanks. For the next 7 years you surf the Bukit like it’s 1980 – until the Russians finally build that underwater freeway back through the rock and finish the job they started..

  2. Russell Yule says:

    Not saying I\m an expert, but I think the Bukit would be reasonably safe. My understanding is that water will always move towards the path of least resistance and therefore would wrap around high points of land and then cleaning up Kuta/Canggu and Nusa Dua/Sanur. It would depend on many things including the ocean topography around the coast line. I suspect that the deep water around the Bukit cliffs would mean there.minimal impact there and it is possible that the wave energy would be refracted away from the Kuta/Sanur areas.

    I studied the north coast PNG tsunami in the 90s. It amazed me that some were wiped out by 8m of water surging into the lagoon, while neighbouring villages had less than 1m of water go through. This was hypothesised to be a result of channels that focused the tsunami more towards some beaches than others.

    As an ex Geography teacher at Sekolah Dyatmika, I am very interested in this series of posts. Keep em coming!

  3. robert says:

    We just finished our new house, Ungasan, Centre of Bukit. Two suspended concrete floors, main frame i beam steel. Heavy wall construction ground floor with very light ‘ Hebal ‘ block wall infill above. Colorbond steel roof [ to catch rain water ] When the most recent earthquake hit we woke and ran downstairs where we joined the Satpam watching the top floor swaying, just like it was designed to do, phew !!

    Only damage being very minor hair cracks in a couple of walls on ground floor.

    Cheers,

    Robert

  4. That house will remain standing when all else around it is reduced to rubble…Construction code, what construction code? Can you imagine what a 9,0 quake would do, even without a tsunami on top of it?

  5. robert says:

    Touch wood [ as I touch my head ] ha ha …

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