30 Dec 2004

French Polynesian seismic stations recorded Sunday's earthquake in Indian Ocean

11:29 am on 30 December 2004

French Polynesia's three seismic monitoring stations located on Tahiti, in the Austral Islands and in the Marquesas Islands recorded Sunday's powerful earthquake in the Indian Ocean.

The head of the French Geophysical Laboratory in Tahiti, Dominique Reymond, says no alert was sounded for French Polynesia because the nine POINT zero magnitude earthquake, occurred off the west coast of northern Sumatra.

This laboratory monitors seismic activity throughout French Polynesia through a network of some 10 seismic detection stations spread out over the five archipelagos.

The laboratory and detection system were originally set up in 1960 to monitor the atmospheric and underground nuclear tests that France conducted on the atolls of Moruroa and Fangataufa in the southeastern sector of the Tuamotu Archipelago.

At the main station in Pamatai in the Tahiti Commune of Faa'a, a computer recorded the devastating Sumatra earthquake in real time.

Mr Reymond says when an earthquake is detected in the Pacific, and starting from a magnitude of 7.0, they inform officials who activate an alert if necessary.

He says French Polynesia set up a tsunami prevention system two years ago, thanks to the French High Commissioner's Office.