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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Scientists give new Sumatra quake warning.

ABC News Online: The Indonesian island of Sumatra, smashed by a tsunami and shaken by an enormous earthquake in the past six months, is now at risk from two potentially major quakes, one of which could generate waves 10 metres high, seismologists warn.

The research team is headed by the same expert who predicted with uncanny accuracy a quake that struck Sumatra on March 28, barely three months after the December 26 temblor, one of the biggest earthquakes ever recorded.

He fears the next quakes may be as high as 7.5 and 9 respectively on the Richter scale and in the latter case, cities along much of Sumatra's west coast would be exposed to a tsunami.

"I think it would be irresponsible for those in charge of preparing people in this area to ignore the possibility that the earthquake could happen in a year," lead author John McCloskey, a professor of environmental sciences at Britain's University of Ulster, told AFP.

The study takes a fresh look at Sumatra's seismic mosaic in the light of the last two great quakes, focussing on the two biggest faultlines.

One faultline runs on the land down the western side of Sumatra, and has lateral friction, with one side trying to head north-west and the other trying to move south-east.

Stress on this so-called Sumatra fault, especially in the north-west in the region of Banda Aceh, remains high, the researchers warn.

"The threat of an earthquake of magnitude 7.0-7.5 on the Sumatra fault north of four degrees north (of the equator) has not receded," they say in the study, which appears in the British science journal Nature.

An even greater threat lies in the second faultline, the so-called Sunda Trench, a notorious seabed crack that runs about 200 kilometres to the west of Sumatra.

This area has a different and more perilous profile than the Sumatra fault, for it has vertical movement - the kind capable of creating big waves by thrusting up sections of the sea bed.

It lies in a so-called "megathrust" area, in which the Australian plate is trying to push its way under the Eurasian plate to the north-east.

The Sunda Trench has been a flashpoint of seismic activity for centuries.

Part of its northern section, at the conjunction with the tongue-shaped Burma microplate, was the epicentre for the December 26, 2004 quake, at 9.3 the second highest ever recorded.

- AFP


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