Skip to comments.Cartographers Redrawing Maps After Tsunami [Straits of Malacca 4K feet deep before, now 100 feet?]
Posted on 01/05/2005 4:20:40 PM PST by Mike Fieschko
Water depths in parts of the Straits of Malacca, one of the world's busiest shipping channels off the coast of Sumatra, reached about 4,000 feet before last month's tsunami. Now, reports are coming in of just 100 feet too dangerous for shipping, if proved true.
A U.S. spy imagery agency is working around the clock to gather information, warn mariners and begin the time-consuming task of recharting altered coastlines and ports throughout the region.
Officials at the Bethesda, Md.-based National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency say the efforts will take international cooperation over months, if not years.
Thousands of navigational aides, such as buoys held in place by mushroom-shaped anchors, were carried off to new locations by 50-foot to 100-foot waves. Old shipwrecks marked on charts have been relocated, joined by new wrecks that will have to be salvaged, moved or charted.
But there might be a silver lining in the devastation.
"Maybe there's less pirates now," says Peter Doherty, who works at the agency and is chairman for the International Hydrographic Organization's commission that sends out radio navigational warnings.
He and others are hoping that the waves carried away the modern-day Blackbeards. These thieves trolled the waters in high-speed boats, armed with guns, knives and grappling hooks, which they used to climb the sides of ships to steal them and their goods.
Just how different the ocean floor looks remains largely a mystery. The bulk of the tsunami recovery effort has gone toward humanitarian relief. Gradually, however, attention will turn to what it will take to make the region's waters safe. Among the first priorities will be making the channels safe for relief shipments.
The U.S. agency, which analyzes spy satellite imagery and produces maps and charts for the Defense Department, has so far sent out two tsunami-related warnings on a Pentagon (news - web sites) messaging system and made them available publicly on its own Web site.
Ports of call may be heavily damaged "to include unknown new bottom configurations, ship wrecks, shoreline changes and depth limitations," according to a warning from Dec. 29.
"In addition," the notice said, "aids to navigation may be damaged, inoperable, off station or even destroyed. ... Proceed with extreme caution."
The agency has received an unconfirmed report that one area of the Strait of Malacca, which divides Malaysia and the devastated Indonesian island of Sumatra, had its depth cut from 4,060 feet to just 105 feet.
In another area of tsunami-effected waters, a merchant marine ship has logged that the depth was cut from 3,855 feet to just 92 feet.
The agency's chief hydrographer, Chris Andreasen, said experts may find that whole channels were moved by the earthquake that preceded the tsunami, shifting the ocean floor many feet, rather than the inches seen during the 1989 California quake during the World Series (news - web sites).
"When the plate moves, everything on it moves," Andreasen said. "There could be some pretty serious shifts."
Warnings about the new oceanic landscape go out right away. But the agency waits to update its charts until it gets final confirmation.
Among other international operations, the Navy is sending two ships to begin efforts to rechart the waters. One, the USNS John McDonnell, could arrive by next week.
It is expected to be followed by the newer USNS Mary Sears, which is awaiting final orders to head out from Japan. On board will be sonar, a dozen scientists and 34-foot vessels used to rechart the shipping channels.
The initial goal is not to study every square foot, but to understand what happened to the channels so the ports can be used to deliver relief supplies. Now, helicopters and airplanes are the primary means, said Capt. Jeffrey Best, commanding officer at the Naval Oceanographic Office at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
The Navy does not know what it will find. "We may have buildings or buses in the channels of the harbors," Best said.
On the Net.
the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's Maritime Safety Information: http://pollux.nss.nga.mil/index/index.html
impressive if true
impressive if true
As Dan Rather would say, "Impressive even if untrue!"
The following is a summary of the daily reports broadcast by the IMB's Piracy Reporting Centre to ships in Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Ocean Regions on the SafetyNET service of Inmarsat-C from 27 December 2004 to 3 January 2005.
Recently reported incidents
|03.01.2005 at 0120 LT in posn: 01:14N - 103:25E, Phillip Channel.
A craft named "golden sphere sc-375" followed a tanker underway for 50 minutes. Suspecting it could be a pirate boat; master activated anti-piracy measures and craft moved away.
|31.12.2004 at 2300 LT in posn: 15:48N - 042:29E, Red Sea.
D/O on a tanker underway spotted an unlit fast craft 10 metres long closing in on port quarter. Alert crew directed searchlights and craft turned and moved in direction of a container ship eight NM away.
|Actual or attempted incidents
|02.01.2005 at 2120 UTC Kandla outer anchorage, India.
Robbers boarded a general cargo ship, broke into forward
locker and stole ship's stores. D/O raised alarm and robbers escaped in their boat.
|02.01.05 at 0730 LT in posn: 26:13.2N - 056:52.2E, Strait of Hormuz, Persian Gulf / Arabian Sea.
Several persons armed with guns in six blue speedboats about 6 - 8 meters long crossed a container ship from starboard to port. They were dressed in black clothes with facemasks. D/O raised alarm and crew mustered and activated fire hoses. Boats followed the ship but later moved away.
|31.12.2004 at 0330 LT at CBM Rio Haina terminal, Dominican Republic.
Two robbers armed with long knives boarded a LPG tanker tied to mooring buoys. Duty watchman raised alarm and one robber jumped overboard. The other robber threatened D/O with a knife and also jumped overboard. Port control informed.
|29.12.2004 at 1720 UTC in posn: 22:05N - 091:43E, off Chittagong, Bangladesh.
Eight pirates armed with knives in an unlit boat boarded a bulk carrier underway. Alert crew mustered and switched on deck lights. Pirates broke in to aft locker and stole ship's stores. They jumped overboard and escaped in a waiting boat.
|27.12.2004 at Kandla inner anchorage, India.
Robbers boarded a general cargo ship from a small boat. They stole ship's stores and escaped.
Big news...... If the congested straights become more narrow, More congestion and navigation problems for captains.
Most big ports would be happy to have a 45 foot channel. A hundred foot depth is not a factor in shipping. - tom
The Abe Lincoln passed through the Straits of Malacca without incident after the quake.
I'd like to know exactly where these twits say the Straits of Malacca were 4000 feet deep before and now only 100 feet deep.
At the narrow point near Singapore, the Strait was always shallow.
To the northwest, perhaps it was (is) deeper. It certainly is much wider.
If a water column in the Straits of Malacca of several thousand feet were displaced as described, the ensuing tsunami within the Straits of Malacca would have wiped the coasts abutting the Straits from the face of the earth, including Singapore.
But, we know that there was NO significant tsunami effect in the straits.
From this we can conclude the obvious. The story is unadulaterated BS, and nothing more.
Agreed. Mother Earth doesn't move this quickly.
I once had a friend who had been in the Merchant Marines. He told me that on long ocean voyages they would put the ship on the "Iron Mike," leave the bridge totally unattended and go about other business on the ship that had to be done. Once in a while someone who happened to be passing near the bridge would look around to see if there were other ships in the area then go about his business. I suppose that's why some of these pirates are successful. No one on the ship sees them until already onboard and making noises.
It is true. Parts of the straits were 4000 feet before, and parts are now only 100 feet deep. Trouble is, not the same parts. The parts that were 4000 feet are still 4000 feet, and the parts that were 100 feet are still 100 feet. Some of the straits are also 1 foot deep. The part just by the beaches.
YAWN. Can't wait for the Gonzalez battle to get Tsumaniland off the news.
Thanks for the comment. Got to admit it sounded plausible when I first read it.
These guys prefer a little bit more depth than the container ships do.
That is a cool graphic.
Make sure you provide a link to http://www.nmic.navy.mil/
Wow! I never knew George Bush was THAT powerful!
Maybe the buoys & other markers moved, and are no longer reliable so that what a chart says is 400', relying on the buoys, is really 35'.
If only the president sent more money sooner.
As for depositing the dredgings, Singapore is ready to take them for land reclamation projects near the tiny island city-state.
The straights of Malacca are notoriously shallow.
SHIPPING LANES: A TARGET FOR TERRORISM?
Posted by WhoDaresWins on Tuesday, 18 May 2004 (18:55:45) CDT
Contributed by WhoDaresWins
The straits of Malacca and Singapore form one of the world's busiest sealanes, with 50,000 vessels a year passing through, carrying half the world's oil supplies and two-thirds of its liquefied natural gas to the energy-dependent economies of China, Japan and Korea.
The narrow and shallow straits are also one of the most dangerous, topping the global list for piracy attacks in a region where there are several well established terrorist groups.
Possibly even fewer, too.
IF the story were true (and it is not, or at least the facts have been hugely distorted), all of Singapore's land reclamation projects would have been destroyed by a tidal wave orders of magnitude larger than the one that came ashore in Aceh, Thailand and Sri Lanka. You can't dump that much land into water without moving the water out of the way. That's just plain old physics.
And, IF this story were true, where would this approximately 200 cubic miles of sediment have suddenly come from? That's a LOT of earth. Now, if this was NOT a sudden shift of the ocean bottom, but the gradual filling in of this huge body of water by erosion, then why make this sensational claim just now?
Let's also clear up one other thing right away. The water depths between Singapre and the Indonesian Islands opposite (Bataam, Karimun, etc.) has always been rather shallow as such things go. Depths of 100 feeet are common. In fact, the shallowness of the straits has been a continuing concern, not because this depth is intrinsically problematic, but because a sinking in the straits would create a shipping hazard with serious economic consequences.
If these people are talking 4000 foot depths that have suddenly disappeared, they have to be talking some distance either northwest or east of Singapore. That is, far beyond any distance where hydraulic dredging could be used. And barge dredging would probably result in fill material priced out of the market.
So far, we have had a very warm January in SW Pennsylvania. The amount of moisture has been excessive. Proof of global warming? Not hardly. The collision of warm fronts and cold fronts which cause moisture in excessive amounts also cause warming trends.
Once the cold front pushes south as it is forecast to do later this month, the clouds move out and the steady downpours turn into occasional snow flurries with cold, clear evenings. It ain't rocket science and it ain't sensational. So it ain't news.
"Mother Earth doesn't move this quickly."
Well, not in an earthquake anyway. However, in eastern Washington State there are 300-foot tall ridges that are "ripple marks" left over from floods during the last glaciation. (Okay - the glaciation was slow - but when the ice dam broke it created the landscape in a few days.)
I wonder if they have their meters and feet crossed up - was 400 feet, now 100 meters (328 feet). But don't see how that can mess up shipping.
That's a good reason not to have the channel over 45 feet. - Tom
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Note: this topic is from 1/05/2005. Thanks Mike Fieschko.
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