Seismology

Speed and size of the Sumatra earthquake

We now have a clearer picture of the seismic features of last year's gigantic event.

Abstract

Our seismological results reveal that Indonesia's devastating Sumatra–Andaman earthquake on 26 December 2004 was 2.5 times larger than initial reports suggested — second only to the 1960 Chilean earthquake in recorded magnitude. They indicate that it slowly released its energy by slip along a 1,200-km fault, generating a long rupture that contributed to the subsequent tsunami. Now that the entire rupture zone has slipped, the strain accumulated from the subduction of the Indian plate beneath the Burma microplate has been released, and there is no immediate danger of a similar tsunami being generated on this part of the plate boundary, although large earthquakes on segments to the south still present a threat.

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Figure 1: Features of the 2004 Sumatra–Andaman earthquake.

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Correspondence to Seth Stein.

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Stein, S., Okal, E. Speed and size of the Sumatra earthquake. Nature 434, 581–582 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/434581a

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