On the trail of tsunami

Since the 2004 tsunami, sci­en­tists have moved closer to un­der­stand­ing and pre­dict­ing its trig­ger, the tec­tonic earth­quake. Are gov­ern­ments pre­pared to ben­e­fit from the knowl­edge?

Down to Earth - - SCIENCE - VI­JAY RAVIKU­MAR

Ffive cen­turies the earth OR OVER had strug­gled to main­tain its com­po­sure, bow­ing here and bend­ing there, yet some­how with­stand­ing the mount­ing pres­sure.Far be­neath the sur­face,the Indo-Aus­tralian tec­tonic plate was sub­duct­ing un­der the Sunda plate, but near the sur­face th­ese plates had locked to­gether, ac­cu­mu­lat­ing his­toric lev­els of ten­sion along a huge stretch of the Sunda megath­rust. Then, in a de­ci­sive mo­ment on De­cem­ber 26, 2004, the earth shrugged off its strain. In a mat­ter of sec­onds, 1,600 kilo­me­tres of ocean floor broke free and lurched up­ward, like a com­pressed spring sud­denly re­leased. The dis­place­ment was later cal­cu­lated to be as high as six me­tres. It was this in­cred­i­ble force of dis­place­ment that trig­gered the tsunami of 2004, killing 23,000 peo­ple and caus­ing in­cal­cu­la­ble loss of liveli­hood.

The 2004 tsunami, that killed over 250,000 peo­ple on a sin­gle day and af­fected at least 15 coun­tries, was caused by the most pow­er­ful earth­quake in 40 years

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