GPS Shield Provides Faster Tsunami Alerts

A “GPS shield” that works in real time could save lives by quickly warning of potential tsunamis.

The German-Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System (GITEWS) is being developed by a team led by Jörn Lauterjung of the National Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam, Germany. Unlike the earlier methods which detect seismic waves transmitted through the Earth’s crust to distant receivers, the new ground-based system takes real-time measurements of vertical ground motion – the type of fault movement more likely to produce tsunamis (Ref: American Geophysical Union)


The conception aims at achieving indicators of a tsunami and its dimension by the analysis of different measurements at a very early stage. While a tsunami wave in the wideness of the sea spreads out with a speed up to 700 km/h, there will be time elapse of about 20 minutes between the wave’s generation and the first contact with the Indonesian mainland.

In this timeframe the sensors, which will be installed at different locations inside the considered propagation areas, are able to rapidly detect deviations from normality and send the alert signals.

To protect the Indian Ocean region the proposed shield would include an array of 18 GPS stations.

If this system works as expected, this is god-send for all regions affected by Indonesian earth quakes. Big Cheers to GITEWS team!