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Media Release
Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

26 December 2005

Australian Tsunami gauge completed

The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary with ministerial responsibility for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology today announced the successful completion of a new Australian Tsunami Integrated Monitoring System - technology that uses satellite reporting to monitor sea levels and to detect tsunami's - at Christmas Island.

This completes the critical tsunami monitoring instrumentation for Christmas Island and forms part of the planned network in the Indian Ocean. The work has been undertaken by the Bureau and Geoscience Australia in the lead-up to the anniversary of the tragic 2004 Indian Ocean Boxing Day tsunami.

"The Bureau of Meterology and Geoscience Australia have worked hard to deliver this vital infrastructure of national and regional significance on schedule, in time to assist in warning Australians of any potential risk this holiday season.

The new Australian Tsunami Warning System is not only designed for the protection of Australians, but contributes to tsunami monitoring services to our Indian Ocean and South West Pacific Ocean neighbours.

Christmas Island is very close to Indonesia and placing the Tsunami Monitoring Gauge on the island helps both Australia and the surrounding region to be monitored twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, for earthquake and tidal activity." Mr Hunt said.

The monitoring station on Christmas Island uses two instruments to detect sea level; a sub surface pressure sensor that measures the water column pressure and a second sensor that responds to radar pulses from above the water. The radar sensor measures the distance between the sensor itself and the water surface to derive the sea level height.

Each minute the sea level data are automatically transmitted to the Bureau of Meteorology via a satellite communications link.

The Australian Government agreed to provide $68.9 million over four years to establish a national tsunami warning capability. The Australian Tsunami Warning System will contribute to an Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System and integrate with the existing Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii to facilitate tsunami warnings.

"This initiative will provide an around-the-clock tsunami monitoring and analysis capacity for Australia and our neighbours," Mr Hunt said.

Media contact:
Kristy McSweeney (Mr Hunt's office) 0415 740 722

Commonwealth of Australia