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NTU Singapore documentary on earthquakes bags multiple international awards

September 08, 2016

A documentary by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) on its ground-breaking earthquake research in Nepal has bagged several top international film awards.

These include the prestigious Remi Award at the 2016 WorldFest Houston International Film Festival, one of the world's largest film festivals where top filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Ridley Scott received their first honours.

The 25-minute documentary also clinched the Sierra Nevada Award, given to the world's finest independent feature films and documentaries, and the Rochester International Film Festival's Certificate of Merit, the world's oldest short film festival.

It was also screened at 13 film festivals worldwide such as the International Festival of Science Documentary Films in Czech Republic and the Roma Cinema Documentary Festival in Italy.

Produced by NTU filmmakers and scientists together with Nepal's Department of Mines and Geology, the documentary titled "The Ratu River Expedition", sheds light on one of the biggest faults in the world which caused a devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Nepal early last year.

In the documentary, NTU researchers from its Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) use new technologies to show the region is at risk for years to come, and how continued research could help anticipate future earthquakes.

Professor Isaac Kerlow, group leader of EOS' Art and Media team, said, "Bringing the fruits of scientific research closer to the general public is an important goal of this interdisciplinary collaboration. Films provide an effective way to bring cutting-edge Earth science discoveries to the communities at risk from natural hazards."

Ground-breaking quake research

NTU scientists set off in early 2014 to study the fault that passes through the Ratu River at the feet of the Himalayas, 140 kilometres south of Mount Everest, in the South East of Nepal.

Led by structural geologist Assistant Professor Judith Hubbard, The Ratu River Expedition aims to understand how big and how frequent Nepal's earthquakes are likely to be by studying the geometry of faults.

This was achieved by using state-of-the-art technologies such as a seismic truck equipped with instruments that enabled scientists to visualise active faults, similar to ultrasound imaging.

NTU scientists were then able to create a map of the faults and compared it with historical data dating back as early as the 13th century, allowing them to better anticipate future earthquakes in Nepal.

Asst Prof Hubbard said, "Studies have shown that if we are able to examine what had happened in the past, we will be able to better understand which regions are safe and which are more at risk.

"This would enable governments to plan emergency procedures more effectively," said the Nanyang Assistant Professor.

Moving forward, Asst Prof Hubbard's team plans to drill about 100 meters deep below the Ratu River, to study the rocks which can be used to better understand the fault and how fast it shifts.
About Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It has a joint medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up with Imperial College London.

NTU Singapore is also home to world-class autonomous institutes - the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering - and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI).

Ranked 13th in the world, NTU Singapore has also been ranked the world's top young university for the last two years running. The University's main campus has been named one of the Top 15 Most Beautiful in the World. NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore's medical district.

For more information, visit

Full video documentary (embeddable):

Nanyang Technological University

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