Sunday, 26 December 2004

Asian Tsunami

A magnitude 9.15 undersea earthquake occurred just north of Simeulue island, off of Indonesia's Sumatra Island on the morning of 2004-DEC-26. It was at a depth of 30 km (19 miles), extended over about 1,200 km (over 700 miles), and caused a sudden rise in the adjacent seabed by several meters. The total energy released was equivalent to about five hundred megatons of TNT. This was more than 200 times the total explosives used during World War II -- including the two nuclear bombs. It caused the crust of the entire Earth to vibrate by at least a few centimeters. It triggered other earthquakes as far away as Alaska. Reverberations could still be detected by sensitive instruments a week later. It altered the earth's rotational speed, shortening each day by about 3 microseconds.

There have been only two other earthquakes of greater magnitude since the year 1900. In all three cases, the rise in the seabed displaced sufficient water to generate a massive tsunami (a.k.a. teletsunami, ocean surge, tidal wave). The south Asian tsunami was "one of the deadliest disasters in modern history." 2 As of late 2005-MAR, as many as 280,000 persons are believed to have died -- half of them in Indonesia. The dead are mainly comprised of local citizens who are followers of the Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim faiths, and about 9,000 vacationing foreigners who were primarily Christians, Jews and secularists. Over a million were left homeless. Massive devastation was caused to costal areas from Indonesia to South Africa, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, South India, Thailand, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Madagascar.

Moving on, two years after the Asian tsunami (Int'l Herald Tribune)

A Time for Believers to Act

India's Christians Prominent in Casualties and Aid

Tsunami Survivors Desperate for Aid

Facing the Tsunami

Full Coverage: Asia Tsunami Disaster (Yahoo! news)

Wave that Shook the World (PBS, Nova)

2004 Indian Ocean earthquake (Wikipedia)

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