Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Indian Ocean earthquake data suggest disaster warnings too conservative

20.05.2005


The December earthquake and tsunami that killed approximately 300,000 people in the Indian Ocean region was so powerful that no point on Earth went undisturbed, pointing to the need for more active warnings about the consequences of future events, according to University of Colorado at Boulder seismologist Roger Bilham.



Bilham offers his perspective in "A Flying Start, Then a Slow Slip," an overview of findings on the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake published in the May 20 issue of Science Magazine. The issue also includes four technical papers by other authors describing the complex rupture process of the earthquake.

"No point on Earth remained undisturbed at the centimeter level," Bilham said. "The earthquake’s uplift reduced the capacity of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, raising sea level around the world by about .1 millimeter.


"If not for the remarkably slow plate movement at the northern end of the earthquake, there might have been much more widespread and severe damage on the coasts of India, Myanmar and Thailand," Bilham said.

Two years ago, Bilham published a study of an 1881 earthquake in the same region and predicted that a similar event could occur sometime between 2004 and 2054. Bilham didn’t anticipate the strength of the 2004 event, though, and said officials need to consider extreme worst-case scenarios as well as more probable earthquake scenarios.

"The region has a history of major earthquakes, including ones in 1833 and 1861. Regardless, there was no precedent for the complexity and magnitude of the 2004 earthquake. This should be a wake-up call that conservative seismic forecasts may not serve society well," he said.

"This earthquake happened at the worst possible time – on a very popular holiday when many people were at the beach instead of at work or in school, and at high tide in India, which increased the tsunami run-up there by one meter," Bilham said.

The Dec. 26 quake was the second largest ever recorded, and the third most fatal in human history. The energy released was equivalent to a 100 giga-ton bomb, or the amount of energy consumed in the U.S. every six months, according to Bilham. "More than 30 cubic kilometers of water were displaced by the shifting sea floor, resulting in a tsunami that traveled as far away as the Antarctic, both coasts of the Americas and even the Arctic Ocean."

Using data recorded by digital seismometers all over the world, scientists were able to determine the direction and speed of the rupturing seafloor.

"The rupture opened lengthwise at 5,000 miles per hour during the first 10 minutes of the earthquake. Seismometers in Russia and Australia recorded the event like a noisy fire engine racing northward," Bilham said. He explained that Russian seismometers recorded higher frequency sounds than those recorded in Australia, revealing a seismic Doppler effect as the sound traveled away from Australia and toward Russia.

For seismologists including Bilham, this was the first catastrophic earthquake that could be analyzed using the latest and most sensitive scientific equipment. "As a result, we will learn numerous new things about our planet, and in particular about the Pacific Northwest, where a similar earthquake could occur at any time," he said.

Scientists believe that a major earthquake and tsunami hit the Pacific Northwest around 1700 along the Cascadia Subduction Zone and that the northwest will experience major quakes, and possibly tsunamis, in the future.

Roger Bilham | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.colorado.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Six-decade-old space mystery solved with shoebox-sized satellite called a CubeSat
15.12.2017 | National Science Foundation

nachricht NSF-funded researchers find that ice sheet is dynamic and has repeatedly grown and shrunk
15.12.2017 | National Science Foundation

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Error-free into the Quantum Computer Age

A study carried out by an international team of researchers and published in the journal Physical Review X shows that ion-trap technologies available today are suitable for building large-scale quantum computers. The scientists introduce trapped-ion quantum error correction protocols that detect and correct processing errors.

In order to reach their full potential, today’s quantum computer prototypes have to meet specific criteria: First, they have to be made bigger, which means...

Im Focus: Search for planets with Carmenes successful

German and Spanish researchers plan, build and use modern spectrograph

Since 2016, German and Spanish researchers, among them scientists from the University of Göttingen, have been hunting for exoplanets with the “Carmenes”...

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Single-photon detector can count to 4

18.12.2017 | Information Technology

Quantum memory with record-breaking capacity based on laser-cooled atoms

18.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

How much soil goes down the drain -- New data on soil lost due to water

18.12.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>