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Four postgraduates awarded Dr. Stephen Riady Geoscience Scholarship

25 May 2016

The Earth Observatory of Singapore received an endowed gift of S$1 million from the Stephen Riady Group of Foundations in July 2015 to boost research in earth sciences. This gift is matched one-to-one by the Singapore government.

Beginning 2016, the investment income from the S$2 million endowment capital will be awarded to the Observatory’s graduate students to explore the Earth’s dynamic processes, aimed at ensuring greater resilience and safety of the region’s people, cultures, and economies.

The Observatory received nine proposals—of which four were successful—to our FY2016 inaugural call. The review panel for FY2016 is comprised of four faculty members, Professor Kerry Sieh, Assistant Professors Caroline Bouvet, Sylvain Barbot, and Wang Xianfeng. The formal review process took place in February, concluding with awards to four post-graduate students totaling S$ 74,740. Each award is on a per financial year basis, and the proposal summaries can be found below.

Congratulations to our students!

Standing, left to right: Asst. Prof. Wang Xianfeng, Asst. Prof. Benoit Taisne, Liu Guangxin, Asst. Prof. Caroline Bouvet, Prof. Kerry Sieh, Asst. Prof. Sylvain Barbot, Sagar Masuti. Seated, left to right: Yudha Djamil and Stephen Pansino. (Photo credit: Yvonne Soon)

Liu Guangxin

2,000-year hydroclimate history of Myanmar: a perspective from highly resolved cave carbonates

The Asian Monsoon dominates the climate of Myanmar and greatly influences the socio-economic development of the country. A current lack of knowledge of the monsoon interannual variation however greatly limits our projection of this important climate system. An understanding of how the hydroclimate of Myanmar has changed through time, under various climate regimes, will significantly improve the precision of our future climate projection of the region. Through the detailed investigation of speleothems in Myanmar, this project aims to obtain ultra-high resolution climate proxy data and extract rainfall information of the recent 2,000 years, to radically improve our understanding of the Asian Monsoon in the whole region, and better inform predictive regional and global climate impact models.

Yudha Setiawan Djamil

Large scale weather dynamics and the 2015 haze event in Singapore

The transboundary haze crisis in 2015 impacted Singapore significantly in areas of healthcare, tourism, outdoor businesses and productivity, with total damages estimated at S$700 million.  Building from a relatively simple idea of tracking the transport of moisture in the atmosphere as a proxy for the transport of haze due to similar distributions as a function of elevation, and the establishment of correlations with the Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) in Singapore and the number of hot spots (source of the haze), the project aims to identify the controls on haze flux into Singapore (e.g. typhoon) and improve forecasting tools at the weekly time scale.

Stephen Pansino

Dike-magma reservoir interaction: an analogue perspective

Dikes, magma chambers and volcanic eruptions are closely interrelated. The 1912 eruption of Novarupta in Alaska (largest eruption of the 20th Century) and corresponding collapse of Katmai volcano (10 km away) presented an unusual finding on magmatic plumbing under volcanoes - the magma for the eruption at Novarupta came from two distinct sources. The eruption was initiated by a deeply sourced dike and triggered the draining of Katmai volcano’s magma chamber, which cause the volcano to collapse. While such behaviour can result in catastrophic events, they are still poorly understood. This project aims to establish experimentally how the pathway of magmas ascending in dikes could be affected by the presence of a nearby magma reservoir, using analogue models. The outcomes of the study will be pertinent to eruption forecasting and globally applicable.

Sagar Masuti

The Transient Rheology of Olivine

Olivine is the weakest and most abundant mineral in the upper mantle. Highly water sensitive rheology (i.e., flow law) of olivine controls dynamics of many geological processes such as plate tectonics and postseismic deformation. Olivine exhibits transient behaviour before reaching the steady-state. Due to the lack of laboratory studies, the water sensitivity of the transient behaviour is poorly understood. This project will study the water sensitivity of the transient behaviour of olivine using the laboratory data. The results of the study will be critical for understanding the Mw 8.6 2012 Wharton Basin earthquake, among others.