Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Restoration of observatory at Apia, Western Samoa


  • Lester Tomlinson


The Apia Magnetic Observatory has been making recordings on the same site since 1905. As a result, it has one of the longest data sets for one site of any observatory in the world. Work is also done in meteorology, seismology, hydrology, and geology at the observatory. Despite damage to the observatory's instrumentation and facilities resulting from two tropical storms, it is collecting data once again.

At the beginning of 1990, western Samoa was devastated by tropical cyclone Ofa. A great deal of damage was done at the Apia Observatory, which is located at the end of a peninsula protruding out into the lagoon. One office building was destroyed when it was washed off its foundations. The outer roof was blown off the magnetic variometer house and various amounts of damage were done to other buildings. Besides damage to the buildings, a great deal of damage was done to the instruments from salt water and spray, particularly to both the variometers and absolute instruments used in the geomagnetic program.