Rear-Admiral Thaworn Charoendee, expert oceanographer at the NDWC, today confirmed that the nation’s tsunami-warning centre was aware that the buoy, located about 1,100km off the Andaman coast, has not been transmitting data for at least three months.
“We believe the battery on the buoy has died,” said R/Adm Thaworn.
“We cannot replace it until the (southwest) monsoon is over, in about November. The seas are too rough right now, even for a large ship to recover the current buoy and replace it with a functioning one,” he said.
The buoy, technically called a Deep-Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami (DART) buoy, was installed over two years ago, after the previous DART buoy was found adrift. At the time, experts noted that the buoy would have a usable life of about two years. (See story here.)
“The NDWC has only one (deep-water) tsunami buoy in action at any one time,” R/Adm Thaworn explained. “We have a second one that we use when the one in the ocean needs repairs or maintenance.”
Replacing the DART buoy with a functioning will cost about B20 million, he added.
“Depending on the weather, it takes about five to six days to travel to change the new one – but not more than six days,” R/Adm Thaworn said.
But there is no cause for alarm, R/Adm Thaworn noted. “The NDWC works with other countries, such as India and Indonesia, which have their own tsunami-warning buoys as part of a tsunami early-detection network (the “Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System”).
“We have people monitoring the tsunami-warning system 24 hours a day. If an earthquake strikes, we will assess and inform the relevant departments if the earthquake has triggered a tsunami,” he said.
Thailand is looking to install a new direct-detection tsunami-warning buoy of its own, much closer to Thai coast, R/Adm added.
“We will have another one about 200km west of Moo Koh Surin. It will be installed within two months at a cost of about B30 million,” he said.
The new buoy off Moo Koh Surin will become Thailand’s third direct-detection buoy off the Andaman coast.