Seismic activities are common in Indonesia due to its special geological location inside the Ring of Fire

Written by: 
Vic Zhong

Lombok, Indonesia, an island known by tourists for its crystal clear water and vast coral reef, was struck by a 6.9 magnitude earthquake in the early morning of August 5. Indonesian locals said the humanitarian aid from Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and support from its members have already impacted the lives of those affected by the tragedy.

With more than 300 dead and the toll rising, the media calls this a “deadly earthquake”. According to BBC news, people have experienced more than 350 aftershocks and at least 270,000 people have been displaced from their homes. As of August 7, at least 4,600 tourists were evacuated from Lombok and neighboring islands, according the Associated Press.

An Indonesian man inspect houses damaged by earthquake in Kayangan on Lombok Island, Indonesia, Monday, Aug. 6, 2018. Indonesian authorities said Monday that rescuers still haven't reached some devastated parts of the tourist island of Lombok after the powerful earthquake flattened houses and toppled bridges, killing large number of people and shaking neighboring Bali. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press. reported that on Gili Trawanga, an island next to Lombok, “Thousands of tourists and local residents spent the night on a hill fearing a tsunami.”

Jemmy Mongan, a bishop in Bogor, Indonesia, shared, “People in Indonesia are grieving over the earthquake [that] happened in Lombok… Local church members are helping the LDS humanitarian aid pack 1000 hygiene kits, 50 tent and 50 mats as immediate support for affected areas.

In December 2004, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck the countries of South East Asia, with Indonesia extremely affected.

Before Mongan was called as a bishop eight months ago, he served in the LDS church Public Affairs for more than 20 years. “The LDS church humanitarian effort has been an on-going thing ever since the earthquake and tsunami happened in Aceh, Indonesia. Along with the humanitarians, I have been to Aceh, Medan, Padang, Yogya, Solo, Bandung, Bali, Manado, and Surabaya, Indonesia, to help the victims.”

Aniela Santoso, a junior from Indonesia majoring in piano performance, is from Malang, and island close to Lombok. She said her family is safe, but she is worried since she still hasn’t been able to contact some of her high school friends in Lombok.

She said, “Indonesia is where the major tectonic plates meet and also surrounded by ocean. Unfortunately, it is pretty common to have natural disasters.”

A villager salvages usable items from the ruin of his house damaged by earthquake in North Lombok, Indonesia. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press. 

A week before the catastrophic earthquake hit the island of Lombok, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit the same area. Hundreds of hikers were trapped at the top of an active volcano, Mount Rinjani. According to Smithsonian Institution website, the last known eruption of the volcano was in 2016.

A report by CNN explained why natural disasters happen so frequent in Indonesia. “Indonesia is no stranger to destructive earthquakes, sitting on the area of intense seismic and volcanic activity known as the Pacific Ring of Fire.

The 40,000 kilometer (25,000 mile) Ring of Fire stretches from the border of the Pacific Plate and touches the borders of the Philippine Sea Plate, Cocos Plate, and Nazca Plate. Based on collected data from USGS archives, the Hawaiian Islands are encircled by the ring. Earthquake, volcanic, and tsunami activity that happen in other areas located on the ring can be easily observed from the Hawaiian Islands, and vice versa.

Though seismic activities like earthquakes and volcanic eruption rarely happen in Malang, people will still experience the aftereffects, said Santoso. “For example, volcano activity is considered active [in some areas]. One time, one of the volcanoes erupted and created tons of volcanic dust and debris. Though we were living about 60 kilometers away from it, it was hard for us to breathe and the air was polluted.”

A list of the largest earthquakes in the world since 1900, according to USGS National Earthquake Information Center:

  • Off the Coast of Ecuador, January 31, 1906, magnitude 8.8
  • Chile-Argentina Border November 11, 1922, magnitude 8.5
  • Kamchatka, February 3, 1923, magnitude 8.5
  • Banda Sea, Indonesia, February 1, 1938, magnitude 8.5
  • Assam, India, August 15, 1950, magnitude 8.6
  • Kamchatka, November 4, 1952, magnitude 9.0
  • Andreanof Islands, Alaska, March 9, 1957, magnitude 8.6
  • Chile, May 22, 1960, magnitude 9.5
  • Kuril Islands, October 13, 1963, magnitude 8.5
  • Prince William Sound, Alaska, March 28, 1964, magnitude 9.2
  • Rat Islands, Alaska, February 4, 1965, magnitude 8.7
  • Off the West Coast of Northern Sumatra, December 26, 2004, magnitude 9.1
  • Northern Sumatra, Indonesia, March 28, 2005, magnitude 8.6
  • Southern Sumatra Indonesia, September 12, 2007, magnitude 8.5
  • Offshore Maule, Chile, February 27, 2010, magnitude 8.8


Date Published: 
Monday, August 13, 2018
Last Edited: 
Monday, August 13, 2018