On 3 November 2017 Jörn Lauterjung, Head of the GFZ-Department Geoservices, was honored by the German Association of Surveyors (Verband Deutscher Vermessungsingenieure VDV) with the „Goldenes Lot“. He received the Prize as the coordinator of the project that established a German-Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System (GITEWS) for the Indian Ocean.
After a submarine earthquake with a strength of 9.3 caused a devastating tsunami on 26 December 2004, GITEWS was developed on behalf of the German Federal Government under the supervision of the GFZ. Thanks to the work of Jörn Lauterjung and his team, today GITEWS is one of the most modern tsunami warning systems in the world. In 2008 the system started its test operation and was handed over to the Indonesian Government in 2011. Earthquake and tsunami alerts are now provided within less than five minutes after an earthquake. Since the system was implemented, thousands of earthquakes and more than ten tsunami were registered.
The tsunami of 26 December 2004 is classified as one of the most severe natural disasters of the 21st century, with a death toll of more than 250,000 in fourteen countries. One reason for the high number of deaths was the lack of a tsunami early warning system in the region. At the African coast people were surprised by the tsunami even six hours after the earthquake took place. (jh)