Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami (2004)

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Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami (2004)

On 26th December occurred the Indian Ocean Earthquake with the west coast of Indonesia as the epicenter. This is considered as the most deadly disaster in the history of mankind killing about 280k people from 14 different countries. Indonesia was the most destructed country because of the Tsunami caused by this earthquake followed by Sri Lanka and India. Scientist and weather forecasts consider this as the 3rd largest earthquake read by a seismograph ever.

This earthquake was triggered when the Indian tectonic plate was subducted by the Burma tectonic plate because of which these Tsunamis were triggered causing disaster and killing lakhs of people with the waves of up to 30 meters of height. This shock has a moment magnitude of 9.2 (approx.). This caused the entire planet to vibrate and slip up to 1 cm and caused other earthquakes as well, far away from the epicenter, as far as to Alaska.

The most disastrous earthquake triggered the largest Tsunami in 40 years in the Indian Ocean since 1883. Some reached even up to 3000 miles from Sumatra, Indonesia (epicenter of the earthquake) that is located about 100 miles off the coast of Sumatra underwater at a distance of about 6.2 miles. This was the largest time faulting with a time span of about 10 minutes.

The regions has been struck by numerous aftershocks-note the table and map below. Much like a zipper the quakes initially progressed north along the fault to the Andaman Island Region.

A tsunami is not a single wave, but a series of traveling ocean waves generated by geological disturbances near or below the ocean floor. With nothing to stop them, these waves race across the ocean until they reach shore where they slow down and rise up in height.

Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami (2004)

Most tsunamis are triggered by large undersea earthquakes but they can be caused by landslides, volcanoes or even meteor impacts. The last large tsunami in the region was due to the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, due to the collapse of that volcano during an explosive eruption.

In this case the ocean bottom shifted displacing sea water in the ocean basin. The bigger the earthquake, the more the Earth’s crust shifts and the more seawater begins to move. A quake of this magnitude typically shifts the earth surface by up to 10-20 meters. In this case the rupture was up to 400 miles long, leading to a massive region of the ocean bottom shifting. The waves traveled outward just like those from throwing a rock into the water. Most tsunamis occur in the Pacific because the ocean basin is rimmed by the Ring of Fire, a long chain of the Earth’s most seismically active spots. In a tsunami, waves typically radiate out in directions opposite from the seismic disturbance. In the case of the Sumatra quake, the seismic fault ran north to south beneath the ocean floor, while the tsunami waves traveled mainly west and east.

Tsunamis are distinguished from normal coastal surf by their great length, width and speed. A single wave in a tsunami series might be 100 miles long and race across the ocean at 600 mph. When it approaches a coastline, the wave slows dramatically, but it also rises to great heights because the enormous volume of water piles up in shallow coastal bays. Unlike ordinary waves tsunamis do not break on the coastline every few seconds. Because of their size, it might take an hour for another one to arrive.

There unusual speed and wavelength allow tsunamis to be identified by buoys moored in the ocean. Although seismic networks recorded Sunday’s massive earthquake, there were no wave sensors in the Indian Ocean region and no means to determine the existence or direction a tsunami would travel. Thus, no warnings were issued. A single wave station south of the earthquake’s epicenter registered tsunami activity less than 2 feet high heading south toward Australia, researchers said.

The Pacific Ocean does have a Tsunami warning system.  The international warning system was started in 1965, the year after tsunamis associated with a magnitude 9.2 temblor struck Alaska in 1964. It is administered by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Member states include all the major Pacific Rim nations in North America, Asia and South America was well as the Pacific islands, Australia and New Zealand.

A lot of industries were shut down because their products wiped away with water in Tsunami and the demand also increased rapidly with decrease in the quantity available for use. This boomed the Sri Lankan and the Indian market as well.

14 Billion US Dollars (2004) were collected for the ailment of this disaster. A large team was needed for the cure of patients. A majority of people were then suffering from various types of diseases like Cholera, Hepatitis A and B, Diarrhea, Typhoid and Dysentery. Although there were severe chances of increment in the number of dead people but all this was handled with the help of different agencies, both government and private.

The main concern at that time was to provide proper sanitation facilities, fresh drinking water, healthy diet and required medicines. A few days were spent in burying dead bodies to avoid skin infections and other diseases caused by them. The World Food Program provided food to over 13 lakh people. Countries including Australia, United States, Canada, Norway, Germany etc. along with World Bank donated a lot of money for the ailment of affected people. India and Indonesia were in a lot of trouble because they are not Tsunami prone areas and didn’t had all required resources at once and even didn’t had many of them even today because they are a lot costlier than the afforded price they can pay.

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