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Sagar Kanya begins Indian Ocean expedition to study tsunami impact

By Anil Sastry

PANAJI, JAN. 6. The ocean research vessel, Sagar Kanya, set sail on Monday on a two-month expedition to assess the impact of the tsunami in the Indian Ocean region, particularly around the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), Vasco-da-Gama, Goa, under the Department of Ocean Development, is leading the expedition along with the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Dona Paula, Goa.

Senior scientists from the NCAOR, the NIO and the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), Chennai are taking part in the expedition.

The vessel, comprising 22 scientists has reached the Kerala coast, from where it would head for Tamil Nadu. Nine more scientists will join the team at Chennai for the survey of the ocean bed for 40 days.

Samples to be collected

Prem Chand Pandey, NCAOR founder-Director,told The Hindu that the expedition would focus on the dynamic changes in water columns and the shifting of the Indian Plate towards the Burma Plate. Also, changes, if any, in the composition of seawater would be studied.Dr. Pandey said the vessel would collect samples near Cuddallore, Nagapattinam and Chennai, before collecting others at the backarch and forearch regions of the Andamans. He felt that the data would help formulating a strategy to tackle such natural disasters.

He said if the study could indicate the height and the energy of the tsunami waves generated by the earthquake, it would help in taking precautionary measures beforehand.

M. Sudhakar, NCAOR's Scientist in-charge of Sagar Kanya is coordinating the expedition from the centre's headquarters and Anil Kumar from NCAOR is leading the team. NIO-RC's Murthy will lead the team for the "Andaman Expedition" from January 15.

The Sagar Kanya can accommodate 31 scientists and house 14 laboratories. The laboratories offer experimental facilities in oceanography. The vessel is equipped to undertake atmospheric observations. It has been used for 215 expeditions in the last 22 years.

The Union Science and Technology Minister, Kapil Sibal, had announced dispatch of Sagar Kanya to the Andamans to detect any geographical displacement last month.

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