News / Asia

    Indo-Australian Plate Splitting

    Residents walk along a path in an area affected by a landslide after an earthquake struck in Koto Timur district in Padang Pariaman, a port city sits atop one of the world's most active seismic fault lines along the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, October 3, 2009
    Residents walk along a path in an area affected by a landslide after an earthquake struck in Koto Timur district in Padang Pariaman, a port city sits atop one of the world's most active seismic fault lines along the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, October 3, 2009
    Kate Lamb
    Perched atop the notorious ‘Ring of Fire,’ an arc of fault lines and volcanoes in the Pacific Basin, earthquakes are an almost weekly occurrence in Indonesia. After close analysis of a mammoth earthquake that struck the island of Sumatra this April, scientists in the U.S. say the quake indicates the Indo-Australian tectonic plate is now splitting in two.

    The 8.7-magnitude quake that struck the Indonesian island of Sumatra this April sent shockwaves, literally, around the globe.

    After extensively studying the quake and its aftermath, scientists say the rupture is unprecedented.

    It was the biggest ‘slip-strike,’ or horizontal rather than vertical quake, ever recorded.

    Seismologists say the April 11 quake caused four fault lines to rupture almost simultaneously.

    Jamie McCaughey is a geologist from the Earth Observatory in Singapore, an institute that studies earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis.

    He says the recent study in the scientific journal Nature confirms that the Indian-Australian tectonic plate is splitting in two.

    “The evidence is very clear that, and what the authors describe is that, the earthquake is really just illustrating a long-term process and teaching us more about it, that the sea floor of the Indian Australian plate is slowly becoming two separate plates and this earthquake illustrated that process unfolding,” said McCaughey.

    It is expected to take millions of years for the plate to divide completely, but the study also shows how earthquakes can trigger other quakes, weeks, and even years after they occur.
     
    The report says there is a high probability the April quake was triggered by the devastating tsunami in December of 2004.

    But McCaughey says that rather than seeing a rise in tectonic instability, we are simply witnessing a "dramatic moment in a long-term geological process."

    Still, many on the northwest Indonesian island of Sumatra believe it is just a matter of time before another giant earthquake and tsunami strike.

    Geologist Surono heads Indonesia’s volcanology agency and says the frequency of volcanic eruptions has increased over recent years.

    “The activity of tectonics in Indonesia can influence directly to the volcanoes in Indonesia. After the great earthquake in 2004 in Sumatra, after that all the volcanoes in Indonesia, the character of the volcanoes changed," he stated. "For example, the eruption of [Mt.] Kelud in 2007, it was very different compared with 100 years ago. And then Merapi in 2010, was also a very great eruption. It was very different with previous eruptions.”

    Indonesia has the highest number of volcanoes worldwide.

    In early September there were also rumblings from Anak Krakatau. The volcano is what remains of a cataclysmic explosion in 1883.

    The country’s natural disaster mitigation agency says it is working hard to implement better early warning, monitoring and evacuation systems.

    With foreign funding, the government is also mapping earthquake-prone regions across the country.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora