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The Earthquake and the Tsunami on the Indian Ocean

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The earthquake and the tsunami on the Indian Ocean (2004)

On 26th of December 2004, the most horrible nightmare came true for the people living in the countries located on the Indian Ocean; Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. It’s one of those episodes that still are remembered today and are in the back of people’s minds. It was series of underground-earthquakes that were triggered, and the first and the most powerful earthquake at magnitude 9,3 on the Richter’s scale.

It began 7:58 AM (Indonesia’s time). The earthquake was starting, and Jakarta’s geophysics institute registered it at magnitude 6.5 at the Richter’s scale. The United States Geological Survey reported the magnitude was at 8.1, but after analyses it was then increased to 8.5, afterwards 8.9, and at the end 9.0. After 16 minutes, a warning was published by Hawaii.

The biggest disaster struck after 30 minutes, though, when strong waves (that were up to 10 meters high) began hitting the west coast of Sumatra. Only 1 to 2 hours later, the waves came to Thailand, south Myanmar and parts of Malaysia. In Sri Lanka, the waves came 1 to 2 hours after the earthquake. The waves that hit Maldives 4 hours later were not as strong, though… they were still stronger than the waves that hit Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania 6 to 7 hours thereafter.

Like I mentioned, the earthquake was first measured at 6.5 at the Richter’s scale, but at the end (after analyses), it was measured at 9.3. The hypocenter was at 3.316°N, 95.855°Ø, about 16 kilometers west for Sumatra and north for the island Simeulue, about 30 kilometer under sea level. This is in the utmost western end of the earthquake-belt called “Pacific Ring of fire” that accounts for 81% of the world’s stronger earthquakes.

The earthquake on the Indian Ocean got an abnormally geographical size from the starting point in south and along the fault line north towards Myanmar. 1200 kilometers of the geographical fault line was in movement along the subduction zone, where the Indian plate went under the Burma plate. The seabed under the Burma plate was apparently lifted up 10 meters vertically over the Indian plate. This triggered the shockwaves on the Indian Ocean that moved up to 800 km/h, also causing the tsunamis where they reached land.

The aftershocks came just three days after with a strong earthquake at magnitude 8.2 in a deserted sea area towards Antarctica. This is not normal, because in average only one earthquake over magnitude 8 or stronger occurs once in a year. The Indian Ocean earthquake and this one have a connection, because these two earthquakes took place at each end of the Indo-Australian plate.

More aftershocks happened after that too, especially by the Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands. All of earthquakes were at least over magnitude 6 on the Richter’s scale.

Over 28400 people died that day, most of them from Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India.…...

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