GEOG 858
Spatial Data Science for Emergency Management

28 September 2018


Sulawesi, Indonesia Earthquake and Tsunami

On September 28, 2018, at 6:02 PM local time, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck in central Sulawesi, Indonesia. The quake triggered a tsunami with a maximum height of 4-7 meters (13-23 feet) causing massive destruction. There was also widespread destruction due to soil liquefaction, landslides, flooding, and aftershocks (see below). There have been over 2,100 confirmed dead, 10,679 injured, and over 5000 still missing. There was mass disruption to transportation links which delayed response and recovery efforts.

map showing epicenter and aftershocks of the Sulawesi Earthquake, 2018
Map of the epicenter and aftershocks of the 2018 Sulawesi Earthquake.

The earthquake occurred in a part of Indonesia that is diverse both in terms of human settlement patterns and environmental factors. It contains relatively large settlements such as Palu (population 335,297 in 2010) as well as small and remote rural settlements. The triple impact of the earthquake, tsunami and land movement made it extremely difficult to locate people in need and deliver food and medical assistance. The recovery effort has also been challenging.

people in orange work clothes and hard hats walking through debris
Search and Rescue in Palu, Sulawesi
Credit: BNBP

Putting Yourself There

To get a sense for what this all looked like on the ground, please consider the following: