Scientists to begin mapping of Andaman Sea seabed

Scientists to begin mapping of Andaman Sea seabed

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Andaman Islands, India, 28 July 2006: Scientists from Thailand and Germany will soon begin mapping the seabed of the Andaman Sea off the coasts of Phuket and Phang Nga to better prepare for catastrophic disasters, media reports said.

After a year of preparations the team, including scientists from Thailand’s National Research Council and the Deutsche Forschungsgeneinschaft, will begin surveying parts of the Andaman Sea off Thailand’s southwestern coast that are more than 500 metres deep, called the continental margin area off.

“We have to sail a total of 3,000 miles (5,560 kilometres) in the study area in the middle of the Andaman Sea, 200 miles from Phuket’s coast,” German oceanologist Wilhelm Weinrebe said.

The seabed has a steep dropoff into a canyon that is more than 500 metres deep, causing string currents and underwater tidal waves. The project, sponsored by the Tsunami Fund, aims at better understanding the still mysterious seabed to prepare for natural disasters such as the tsunami of 2004.

The mapping off Thailand’s coast is expected to take four years. A similar project is already underway off the coast of Indonesia but mapping of the sea off India, Myanmar (Burma) and Malaysia has yet to begin.