The 7.4-magnitude earthquake that wrought devastation in Central Sulawesi on Sept. 28 was a scientific prophecy that came true. Armed with evidence of similar catastrophes in the area more than a century ago, scientists had warned of a potential tectonic calamity years before the monstrous quake struck, triggering a tsunami and land liquefaction.

by Safrin La Batu & Kharishar Kahfi

The danger they referred to is the 500-kilometer fault line bisecting Sulawesi from the Palu Bay in the north to the Bone Bay in the south. It is the second-longest after the Sumatran fault line, which spans 1,900 km. History shows that the seemingly dormant monster violently shakes the Earth every 130 years or so. The next-to-latest disaster occurred in 1909. Then, according to Dutch scientists, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake destroyed Central Sulawesi villages. Due to the confluence of three major tectonic plates, the Indo- Australia, Pacific and Eurasia, Sulawesi is known to have many active faults. The Center for National Quake Studies noted that the number of faults jumped to 48 last year from just 12 in 2010. But characteristically, the repeated warnings and calls for serious mitigations in Central Sulawesi had fallen on deaf ears. And this ignorance irks Trinirmalaningrum, a geo...