Planning & Mitigation | VOL. 15, ISSUE 94 January-February 2016

Pre-earthquake Process and the 2004 Tsunami

The disastrous earthquake-triggered tsunami that occurred 11 years ago on the morning after Christmas was huge by any contemporary standards. The epicenter of magnitude 9.3 quake was located in the Indian Ocean near the west coast of Sumatra and it ruptured the 1000 km long Andaman plate boundary, moving the seafloor 20-10 m vertically upwards, thus displacing trillions of tons of under-sea rock. The killer waves radiating from the epicenter slammed into the coastlines of 11 countries from east Africa to Thailand, resulting in 227,898 fatalities. A lag of several minutes to hours between the earthquake and the impact of the tsunami notwithstanding, both the near and distant coastal communities were taken by surprise. There were no tsunami warning systems in place nor were there any ‘social’ memories of previous tsunamis preserved for most communities to fall back on. Considered at that time as an unprecedented disaster in its magnitude and transoceanic reach, the 2004 event had also surprised researchers and hazard managers. The research community as a whole had failed to anticipate such events lurking along the eastern seaboard of India. More than a decade after the 2004 event, it is time for us to take stock of what we have achieved in terms of understanding such huge earthquakes/tsunamis in the Indian Ocean. Advances in Technology One of the most significant developments in the...

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