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

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid