Sumatran strike-slip earthquakes challenge seismologists

Events may shed light on regional tectonics, alter stress on nearby megathrust

After the magnitude-8.6 earthquake and magnitude-8.2 aftershock that struck off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia on April 11, scientists quickly identified why no tsunami followed either one: The earthquakes had occurred on strike-slip faults more than 400 kilometers offshore rather than on the Sunda megathrust fault that has been responsible for a series of large earthquakes since 2004. For all that can be explained, however, the earthquakes took most scientists by surprise. The combination of their size — they're the largest strike-slip earthquake ever recorded by most accounts — and their location is challenging the paradigm of strike-slip earthquakes and is raising new questions about the region’s tectonics.

11 May 2012

Blogging on EARTH: Panelists weigh in on tsunami preparedness policy

“It is not a question of whether it will happen, but when it will happen,” said John Schelling, addressing the room at a Congressional Hazards Caucus briefing last week, as experts discussed the need for more tsunami preparedness in the United States.

23 Mar 2012

Voices: From Haiti to Japan: A tale of two disaster recoveries

A year ago this month, a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck northern Japan. Two years and two months earlier, on Jan. 12, 2010, a much smaller earthquake devastated Haiti. Both earthquakes occurred on a weekday and in the afternoon, but there is very little else that is similar about these two events or how the countries have recovered.

09 Mar 2012

Blogging on EARTH: AGU: Japan tsunami actually made population more vulnerable?

Usually, when a major natural disaster strikes, a population becomes more alert and aware. People know what warning signs to watch for; they know what to do should such an event occur again. They increase their chances of staying alive. For example, intergenerational knowledge of tsunamis passed down by island tribes around the Indian Ocean is credited with saving lives during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

05 Dec 2011

Thinking outside the rocks in the search for ancient earthquakes

The eyewitness accounts, written in columns from right to left, top to bottom, testify that there was no warning of the tsunami, no shaking to drive villagers to high ground before the wave hit, drowning rice paddies and swamping a castle moat. The entries, written by merchants, peasants and samurai, all clearly mark the time and date: just after midnight on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 1700.

25 Aug 2011

Japan's megaquake and killer tsunami: How did this happen?

On March 11, 2011, at 2:46 p.m. local time, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake ruptured a 500-kilometer-long fault zone off the northeast coast of Japan. Its epicenter was 130 kilometers off Sendai, Honshu; it occurred at a relatively shallow depth of 32 kilometers. The temblor violently shook northeast Honshu for six minutes, and collapsed its coastline by one meter.

17 May 2011

Voices: What happened at Fukushima?

The Fukushima Daiichi power plant located in the port town of Okuma in the Fukushima Prefecture, northeast Japan, has six boiling-water-type nuclear reactors supplied by General Electric (units 1, 2 and 3), Toshiba (units 3 and 5) and Hitachi (unit 4) for

06 Apr 2011

Tsunami kills hundreds in Indonesia

Updated on Oct. 28, 2010:

The death toll has continued to rise from the natural disasters that struck Indonesia Monday and Tuesday. Currently, officials are reporting 343 people dead with 338 still missing from the earthquake and tsunami. Meanwhile, the eruption of Mount Merapi has killed 33 so far; after a brief lull, the eruption began again on Thursday.

26 Oct 2010

Hazardous Living: Guatemala and Ecuador under volcanic siege ... and other hazards

Guatemala's Pacaya volcano and Ecuador’s Tungurahua vociferously erupted on Thursday, wreaking havoc on villages and cities nearby.

28 May 2010

Chile quake/tsunami news coverage: The bad and the good

Blogging on EARTH

As you would expect, there's been tons of coverage of the earthquake off the coast of Chile and the resulting tsunami in the mainstream media. And some of it has been notoriously poor.

03 Mar 2010