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CRP El Niño member - Ms. Rita Rachmawati

Ms. Rita Rachmawati

Research Center for Marine Technology
Jakarta, Indonesia

Scientific Background

One of the important marine organisms involved along with global evolutionary processes is coral reef. The coral reef depletion phenomena up to the present day describe us that our coastal resources and environment encounter severe difficulties threatening coastal-health sustainability. A long-time span hazards and risks unavoidly challenge us in the future if we take no precautionary actions. Realizing a large number of natural hazard and risk probabilities a set of advance and comprehensive study should be performed. Since the study must not only consider relatively short-time span physical causes of the coral destruction, engagement with the modern technology to reach applied-science invasion in answering such an issue is mandatory.

Nuclear and isotopic techniques application for marine environment studies have been globally used in the present day. In fact its purposes become more accepted even to those who less recognize this technology as "conventional". In geological time-scale, the Quaternary begins 1.8 million years ago has been a major time of climate change. For more than century attempts have been made in revealing the global sea-level rise in relation with glacial ice. Emiliani (1955) pointed out that the isotopic ratios such as 18O/16O ratio in calcium carbonate of marine organisms reflect both the isotopic composition and the temperature of the seawater in which the organisms grew. It is understood that significant variation in isotopic composition of the ocean is due to global increases and decreases in the volume of melted ice, which controls eustatic changes in sea level. Nuclear and isotopic technology techniques is said capable to perform assessment drawing us back to hundred thousands of years B.P. (before present, with "present: defined as A.D. 1950).

Based on the understanding upon this virtual scientific relevancies between marine organism (coral reefs), the isotope contents in calcium carbonates and nuclear technology competence, it's important to take a research activity for coral reefs by utilizing nuclear technology.

The study of coral reefs in proposed Raja Ampat Islands of Indonesia is crucial not only in attempt to comprehend the historic climate and sea-level changes in Indonesia region, the impacts it brought as we witness today: but it can also describe spatially broader coral reef natural phenomena during the past and various probabilistic trends in the future. Hence, more especially in their relevances with isotopes contents of the coral reef. A new technological approach with higher pertinence, such as nuclear technology, in coastal and marine environment studies should be more encouraged in Indonesia. From this study, it can be understood that the evolution and natural changes taken place in natural objects in the past.


The main objective of this project is study of past El Niño based on natural isotope archived in corals, seawater and sediment by using nuclear and isotopic technology. It means to investigate the El Niño phenomenon in the marine environment using nuclear and isotopic techniques, to have better understanding its past behaviour and thus predict possible scenarios for the future. And also to explore the application of recent nuclear and isotopic techniques suitable for the quantitative estimation of past El Niño events. For survey plan, the objective is to find a potential site for coring (collect coral samples) and suitable place for joint international expedition.