Earthquakes, plate tectonics and the Indian Ocean tsunami

Cummins, Phil, and Goldberg, Jeremy (2005) Earthquakes, plate tectonics and the Indian Ocean tsunami. Status of coral reefs in tsunami affected countries: 2005, 2005. pp. 7-30.

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Abstract

The Indian Ocean tsunami originated from a 9.15 - 9.3 magnitude earthquake in Sumatra that released pressure which had built up over hundreds of years along the fault between 2 tectonic plates;

In the 10 minutes after the fault break started off northwest Sumatra, the rupture spread north along a 1,300 km length of the fault line to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands;

The tsunami generated many waves because the earthquake caused a sudden vertical displacement of a vast section of the ocean floor, displacing a huge mass of seawater;

Tsunamis passing through the deep ocean are difficult to detect, can exceed speeds of 600 km/hour, and arrive at coasts thousands of kilometres from the earthquake as high energy, long wavelength waves;

The waves slow as they encounter the continental shelf, bays, islands or estuaries and increase in height; thereby causing massive damage when they reach the shoreline;

The Indian Ocean tsunami was not the first of this type in the region and more will occur in the future; and

Natural hazard risk analyses should be undertaken and an early warning system implemented to better prepare vulnerable coastal communities for environmental threats in the future.

Item ID: 24193
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1447-6185
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2012 22:54
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040313 Tectonics @ 50%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0405 Oceanography > 040503 Physical Oceanography @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9610 Natural Hazards > 961006 Natural Hazards in Marine Environments @ 100%
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