2004 Indian Ocean earthquake

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2004 Indian Ocean earthquake

2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami occurred on December 26, 2004, and remains one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. With an epicenter off the west coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia, the undersea megathrust earthquake was caused by the rupture along the boundary between the Burma Plate and the Indian Plate. The earthquake had a magnitude of 9.1–9.3, making it the third-largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph. This event triggered a series of devastating tsunamis along the coasts of most landmasses bordering the Indian Ocean, killing over 230,000 people in fourteen countries, and inundating coastal communities with waves up to 30 meters (100 ft) high.

Causes and Mechanics[edit | edit source]

The earthquake was caused by a slip along the giant fault line where the Indian Plate slides under the Burma Plate. The process of subduction is responsible for the formation of the Himalayas and is a known cause of powerful earthquakes in the region. The seismic waves from the earthquake caused the sea floor to lift, displacing massive volumes of water and triggering the tsunamis.

Impact[edit | edit source]

The tsunamis, which struck with little to no warning, caused widespread destruction along the shores of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and other nations. Coastal communities were devastated, with entire towns and villages being swept away. The disaster caused significant loss of life and property, displaced millions of people, and led to a humanitarian crisis with shortages of food, water, and shelter.

Response[edit | edit source]

The international response to the disaster was unprecedented, with billions of dollars in aid pledged to the affected regions. Countries around the world sent rescue and medical teams, supplies, and support for reconstruction efforts. The disaster also led to the establishment of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System to provide an early warning of tsunamis to the region's inhabitants.

Legacy[edit | edit source]

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami had a profound impact on disaster preparedness and highlighted the need for improved early warning systems and international cooperation in disaster response. The event also led to increased scientific research into tsunamis and their causes, contributing to a better understanding of these natural phenomena.

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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD