Tsunami warning system soon

Greece will boost maritime research programs to eventually provide tsunami warnings in the quake-prone eastern Mediterranean Sea, the government said yesterday. The system – comparing data across an Aegean Sea network of seabed and surface sensors – will be designed to give a 20-minute warning to vulnerable Greek islands and coastline areas. «We have given a green light,» Antonis Kotzamanis, a spokesman for Greece’s Development Ministry said. «The research has advanced already but it has not been applied.» The Dec. 26 Indian Ocean disaster, which has claimed about 150,000 lives so far, has rekindled fears of a tsunami in Greece and neighboring Turkey – one of the most seismically active areas in Europe. Extra funding will be given to Greece’s Aegean Sea monitoring project, Poseidon, to increase the number of floating sensors from 10 to 15, Giorgos Chronis, director of the Hellenic Center for Marine Research, told The Associated Press. «Europe only has a problem with potential tsunamis in the Mediterranean, and that problem is mainly in Greece,» Chronis said. «Greece is crisscrossed with fault lines. They’re everywhere.» A tsunami last occurred in Greece in 1956, when a 7.5 magnitude quake created 20-meter (65-foot) waves which battered the Aegean islands of Amorgos and Astypalaia. Chronis cautioned that a reliable warning system could take several years to develop because only new-generation surface sensors can be used and a «risk map» of coastal vulnerability must be created. «This is a combination of data from sensors on a buoy to measure the sea level and undersea seismographs. It is difficult because it requires discrimination between an earthquake-created wave and a wind-created wave.» The new equipment, due to arrive by May, will cost about 9 million euros, Chronis said.