2019.12.24About KUT / Academics / Research / Students Life

The concept of "Building and utilizing infrasound observation networks for tsunami disaster prevention" introduced at the World BOSAI Forum

At the World BOSAI* Forum (Spin disaster knowledge to weave BOSAI wisdom), held at Sendai International Center from November 10 to 12, 2019, Prof. Masa-yuki Yamamoto (School of Systems Engineering and Head of Infrasound Research Laboratory) gave a presentation entitled, "Building and utilizing infrasound observation networks for tsunami disaster prevention."

World Bosai Forum (WBF) is an international forum on disaster risk reduction held in Sendai, Japan in tandem with the International Disaster and Risk Conference (IDRC) in Davos, Switzerland. Forum participants including officials and experts from international organizations, governments, the private sector, academia, and the media in Japan and overseas, along with local citizens, participated in the forum, which originated in Sendai. Focusing on Asia, the forum has the unique feature that citizens can participate to share knowledge and wisdoms related to the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake. The forum aims to develop concrete solutions to disaster prevention problems through promotion of the Sendai Bosai framework 2015-2030 and disseminating mainstream BOSAI content from Sendai to the world.

(The black box device on the left is a sample of the infrasound sensors to be installed in coastal areas. The device is small so it can even be installed in the home, so it is expected to become more and more effective for disaster prevention throughout the entire region as the number of installations at each observation point increases.)

The infrasound that Prof. Yamamoto is studying is very low frequency sound that humans cannot hear--it occurs as the result of phenomena such as geophysical activities (e.g. tsunami, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, thunder, landslides and avalanches) and artificial explosions.

If an infrasound observation network can be constructed and daily fluctuations can be measured continuously, the network can serve as a regional disaster risk indicator. With that in mind, Prof. Yamamoto is conducting research towards the use of infrasound for disaster prevention. Currently, with the cooperation of local governments, companies and citizens, infrasound sensors have been installed in 30 locations in the country for the conduct of observational experiments.
In addition, Prof. Yamamoto is conducting fundamental research on infrasound: he successfully conducted an infrasound observation experiment in the upper atmosphere using a MOMO-3 sounding rocket--the first independent private development in Japan--on May 4, 2019.

At this year's World BOSAI Forum, Prof. Yamamoto explained his infrasound research results in a presentation and a booth exhibition, followed by meaningful discussions with people engaged in disaster prevention in more than 10 countries, including Indonesia, the Philippines and Maldives. There was high interest in tsunami disaster prevention, in particular from marine and island countries, and there are high expectations for low-cost, land-based infrasound tsunami sensors.

In the near future, KUT will continue its research activities towards the use of infrasound in global disaster prevention infrastructure.

*Note: the term BOSAI, from the Japanese word for disaster prevention, refers to a comprehensive approach involving pre-disaster measures, emergency response post-disaster and during recovery and reconstruction phases. The use of the Japanese term as an English word is intended to support the spread of Japanese disaster prevention concepts as mainstream input for policy work, for use by society, and for cultural sharing with countries around the world.