Monday, December 27, 2004

Indian Ocean earthquake

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea earthquake of moment magnitude 9.0 that struck the Indian Ocean off the western coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia on December 26, 2004 at 00:58:50 UTC (or 07:58:50 local time in Jakarta and Bangkok). It was the largest earthquake in the world since the 9.2-magnitude Good Friday Earthquake which struck Alaska, USA, in 1964, and the fourth largest since 1900.

The quake was initially reported as magnitude 6.8 in the Richter scale. On the moment magnitude scale, which is more accurate for quakes of this size, the earthquake's magnitude was first reported as 8.5 by the United States Geological Survey, but after further analysis they increased this first to 8.9 and then to 9.0.

For comparison, the largest recorded earthquake was the Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960, having a magnitude of 9.5. The only other larger quakes worldwide since 1900 were the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake (9.2) and a March 9, 1957 quake in the Andreanof Islands (9.1), both in Alaska, USA. The only other recorded 9.0 magnitude earthquake, in 1952 off the southeast coast of Kamchatka, U.S.S.R., spawned tsunamis that caused extensive damage in Kamchatka, the Kuril Islands and the Hawaiian Islands.

Tenthousands of people have lost their lives. Millions have lost family members, their home and their belongings. Facts and figures cannot describe the tragedy that took place in these countries on December 26.