Where will the next tsunami take place?

Indonesia lies on the Pacific Ring of Fire - this regularly leads to disasters. An overview

Earthquakes and tsunamis are part of Indonesia: there have been over 50 strong earthquakes there since 2000. The worst disasters at a glance.

Indonesia is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire: a volcanic belt where 90 percent of the world's earthquakes occur, according to the United States Geological Survey, a US scientific authority. The ring is a result of plate tectonic shifts. The volcanoes near Indonesia are among the most active in the ring.

Since 2000, Indonesia has experienced over 50 earthquakes and a dozen tsunamis. Not all of these natural events were fatal - but some were devastating.

Since a tsunami hit Aceh on December 26th in 2004 and around 230,000 people were killed, the region has increasingly come into the public eye.

The catastrophe has not been repeated to this extent - but since then four earthquakes have shaken Indonesia, which have resulted in more than 1,000 deaths, two of them in combination with a tsunami: in 2005 an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.6 came near the island of Nias and 1300 people died in the tsunami that followed. In 2006 there were over 5000 victims who lost their lives during the earthquake (magnitude: 6.4) near Yogyakarta. In 2009, around 1,100 people died in the 7.6 magnitude earthquake near Padang, Sumatra. The next disaster occurred on September 28, 2018, when an earthquake near Palu, on Sulawesi, triggered a tsunami that killed around 2,200 people.

On December 22nd, Indonesia was hit again by a tsunami - around 220 people were killed, the number of victims is likely to rise. This was triggered by a volcanic eruption in the strait between Sumatra and Java - the popular tourist beaches of Pandeglang are also located there.

Apparently, the latest tsunami was not preceded by any warning. However, if the tsunami was triggered by a landslide, the early warning system could not respond at all because it measures earthquake waves.

Again and again there is criticism of Indonesia's tsunami early warning system, which was built up with international help after the mega-stunami of 2004 - for example after the disaster in Palu. For a long time, several buoys in the sea detected vibrations on the sea floor and passed on the information. The buoys were rejected because they were unreliable. In addition, stations measure the water level and there are around 55 siren systems in the country.

During the earthquake in September this year, the early warning system worked perfectly, said Jörn Lauterjung from the Geoforschungszentrum Potsdam in an interview with the NZZ. "We have a seismometer density in Indonesia that is otherwise only found in Japan." The network of sensors is explicitly designed in such a way that it detects tsunami hazards throughout Indonesia. But the information was not passed on, says Lauterjung.