SPC Geoscience Division

Howorth in for another year with SOPAC

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Dr. Russell Howorth will continue as Director of SOPAC (Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission) for another year. He is an internationally recognized earth scientist, and retired as Deputy Director of SOPAC in 2005, after serving the region with the Commission for over 26 years.

Members of the SOPAC Governing Council confirmed the extension of his contract during their 39th Annual Session held in Nadi recently.

Dr. Howorth had initially accepted the Directorship at the beginning of this year in order to assist Council Members with the way forward to implement the decision by Pacific Island Forum leaders to integrate SOPAC into the operations of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Pacific Islands Environment Programme (SPREP).

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2011 17:01

Snapshots #63 October 2010 - Disaster Reduction Programme

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We have recently completed the final SOPAC Governing Council meeting which was held from 16th – 21st October at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi.

The major outcome of the meeting in terms of SOPAC’s integration as the Applied Geoscience & Technology Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) is that the Member Countries have decided that the SOPAC be suspended rather than dissolved.

This will allow for the reconstitution of SOPAC as an organisation in the future should Member Countries so decide. But, for the moment, we are all geared up to be a part of the SPC family and look forward to the challenges and opportunities that this will bring.

Last Updated on Friday, 12 November 2010 11:45

Palau adopts risk management plan

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KOROR (Palau Horizon, Oct. 28, 2010) - President Johnson Toribiong has signed an Executive Order adopting the 2010 Palau National Disaster Risk Management Framework (PNDRMF) on Tuesday. Executive Order (EO) No. 287 repeals the existing EO 166-99 that was adopted on the Sept. 18, 1998 as the Republic of Palau National Disaster Management Plan.  It was issued on May 10, 1999.

That plan addressed a comprehensive response and recovery arrangement. It acts as the mechanism for incorporating disaster risk reduction and mitigation measures to achieve sustainable national development planning mandated in the 2020 Palau National Master Development Plan.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2011 17:01

Fijian ring ditch at Monasavu

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When Robert Smith as Senior Advisor Marine Geophysicist at SOPAC began his exploration of the Monasavu Hydro to determine the amount of sedimentation in the lake, as part of a survey that he began in 1991, in reviewing the data collected with state of the art mapping tools he found more than sedimentation, he discovered a Fijian ring ditch.

The use of the Fijian ring ditch was used for fortification, found all over the country and dates back hundreds and hundreds of years.

Mr. Smith shared his find during his presentation to participants in the SOPAC/STAR meeting in Nadi recently.

Because the lake was never cleared of trees and bush when it was filled, the ring ditch was never discovered. But it is now very much a part of the lakebed sitting under 10 metres of water at Monasavu.  The ring ditch is shown in the lower centre end of the reservoir (circled)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2011 17:02

Major initiative to reduce risks in Pacific

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A recent initiative could have a major influence on how Pacific Island countries deal with natural disasters. Pacific Disaster Risk Assessment is an ambitious 20-month-long project that has included the Pacific island countries of Fiji, the Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Niue, Nauru, the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau, Kiribati and Timor Leste.

It also involved a team of 15 researchers who began last February to gather information on the precise number of natural disasters that have taken place in each of the participating countries, based on records collected since 1830.

Earthquakes, tropical cyclones, tsunami, severe local storms, floods, storm surges, and landslides, totaling 448 natural disasters, all feature in the inventory. The research team also used the countries’ most recent census figures, key for estimating human casualties and displacement.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2011 17:03

Study finds no contaminants in Niue’s groundwater

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A recent analysis of Niue’s groundwater that tested for selected chemical and organic pollutants has found that the country’s water supply is very good and well within global standards.  

The study focused on all 16 boreholes used to pump Niue’s drinking water, three monitoring boreholes located on the island’s central, northern and southern areas and a borehole found on Vaiea farm.

Due to local concerns of pollution from pesticides like paraquat, groundwater was tested for traces of all pesticides used on the island. The study found that there was no contamination from pesticides with levels recorded well within the United States Drinking Water Standard.


International Geological Congress 2012 - First Circular issued

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The IGC Planning Committee has issued the first Circular regarding the Draft program for the 34th IGC. Read the circular here.

This large and prestigious Geoscience World Congress will be held in Brisbane, Australia, from 5-10 August 2012. The scientific program will cover all aspects of the geosciences. It will demonstrate how geoscience knowledge and applications are contributing directly to meeting societal needs, for example through innovation in the resources and energy based industries, better informed land and water management, enhanced understanding and mitigation of climate change and geohazards, and building major cities and infrastructure.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2011 17:02

Seabed minerals could be mined soon

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With the first mining of Seabed Massive Sulphides (SMS) deposits less than three years from startup in Papua New Guinea, Pacific Island countries have been urged to encourage mineral exploration within their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by SOPAC’s Akuila Tawake, SOPAC’s Aggregate Geologist.

EEZ is the two hundred nautical miles internationally recognized ocean zone reaching out from a coastline of a Pacific island country.  All economic activity within the zone belongs to that country including its mineral wealth.

Mr. Tawake, speaking at the SOPAC/STAR meeting held in Nadi this week, said that based on the results of previous studies, a number of the island countries have marine mineral potential.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2011 17:03

Updated data could lead to Fiji's first oil well

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Akura Ltd. could begin drilling for gas in Fiji as early as next year, subject to the necessary approvals, according to its Managing Director, Bill Brook.

Mr. Brook made the announcement at the SOPAC/STAR meeting now being held in Nadi.  
SOPAC provides assistance to 19 island countries in the Pacific region through applied geoscience and technology.

Akura is a largely Fiji-owned company that has been given an exclusive 5 year exploration licence to search for oil over a 17,600 square kilometre area from August last year.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2011 17:03

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The Water and Sanitation Programme has commenced implementation of the “Improving Drinking Water Supply for Kiritimati Island” project. The objective of the project is to improve livelihoods and secure safe and sustainable drinking water with the focus on infrastructural upgrade of the reticulated supply to the two main communities of London and Tennessee. The project is funded by the European Union with a budget of €4.8 million to be implemented over a four year period.

The Contribution Agreement between the EU and SPC was signed in January 2014 with the Project Coordinator, George Beck, now based in Kiritimati Island. The project will be working closely with the Ministry of Line and Phoenix Islands Development (MLPD), Government of Kiribati, including other key stakeholders to improve the supply of drinking water to the two main communities on Kiritimati Island.

The first task will involve rehabilitating the existing reticulated infrastructure to improve the flow of water and collect data so as to better understand the status of the groundwater lenses. The project will also focus on building capacity at MLPD and undertake awareness in promoting good management and conservation practices.