Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Mapping the wake of a pending quake

The seismically active Indonesian island of Sumatra has been hit repeatedly by tsunamis in the past -- and may now be due for another

Research into ancient earthquakes by scientists at USC and Caltech shows that within the next few decades another tsunami from another giant earthquake is likely to flood densely populated sections of western coastal Sumatra, south of those that devastated by the tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004.

The four researchers have modeled the process by which past quakes have flooded cities on that coast, hoping that a more detailed understanding of the future waves will speed preparations that could save lives. Their work will appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on December 4.

"The message of the 2004 tsunami has not been lost, at least in academia," said study participant Costas Synolakis, the director of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering Tsunami Reseach Center. "We are trying to be proactive and help prevent a similar disaster."

Fellow participant Kerry Sieh of Caltech explained, "When we tell people living along this 700-km section of the Sumatran coast that they will likely experience a big tsunami within the next 30 years, they ask for details. How much time after the earthquake will they have before the tsunami strikes" How big will the waves be" How far inland should they be prepared to run" What areas are likely to suffer tsunami damage" We can't answer these important questions without doing the work that we did for this paper."

The same big fault, or megathrust, that caused the tsunami of 2004 extends much farther southeastward, beneath the Indian ocean, just off the southwest coast of Sumatra. Rupture of this section of the megathrust, under the Mentawai islands, produced two great quakes and tsunamis in 1797 and 1833. Such events appear to recur on average every 230 years.

Samples of coral from the islands show how much these previous quakes lifted the sea floor. The patterns of uplift gave the scientists the information they needed to do computer simulations of the historical tsunamis. Synolakis says that the impact of the computed tsunamis is consistent with historical accounts.

The researchers say that this consistency gives them more confidence when they use the same model to evaluate worst-case scenarios from plausible future quakes. USC's Jose Borrero, the senior author of the study, says the results "confirm a substantial exposure of coastal Sumatran communities to tsunami surges." In particular, the coastal city of Bengkalu, with a population of 350,000, showed flooding in its river floodplain that extended up to several kilometers inland.

In the model, offshore islands appear to somewhat shield the larger city of Padang, but even then, the 1797 tsunami was reported to have carried a 200-ton English vessel into the town approximately a kilometer upstream, with smaller vessels carried yet further.

"The population of Padang in 1797 and 1833 was a few thousand," Sieh says. "Now it is about 800,000, and most of it is within a few meters of sea level. We hope that these initial results will help focus educational efforts, emergency preparedness activities, and changes in the basic infrastructure of cities and towns along the Sumatran coast."

Eric Mankin | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere
25.10.2016 | American Geophysical Union

nachricht Enormous dome in central Andes driven by huge magma body beneath it
25.10.2016 | University of California - Santa Cruz

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>