2012 Indian Ocean Earthquake May Be Dry Run for Devastating Tsunami
On April 11, 2012, a massive earthquake with a magnitude of 8.6 on the Richter scale struck off the coast of Indonesia. Unlike what happened with the 2004 Great Sumatra Earthquake and Indian Ocean Tsunami – which struck fairly close to the recent earthquake's epicenter – only a minor tsunami was generated. Throughout the Indian Ocean Basin, early warning efforts performed well. However, despite this good news, there are signs that this most recent earthquake may only be a dress rehearsal for a more destructive earthquake and potential tsunami soon to come.
The April 11 earthquake was one of the top 10 strongest earthquakes this century. Indeed, the 8.6M quake is said to have been the largest ‘slip-strike’ earthquake on record. A slip-strike earthquake occurs when two tectonic plates in the Earth’s crust rub against each other horizontally. In an undersea environment, this lateral movement does not significantly force sections of the ocean floor upward, and so relatively little ocean water is displaced. Accordingly, on April 11 the Sumatra coast registered a non-damaging tsunami with waves only 80 centimeters (21 in) high.
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