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Press Release 10-116
New Findings Indicate Sediment Composition Affected the Strength of Sumatran Earthquake

International research team studied differences between 2004 and 2005 quakes

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Illustration of earthquakes off Sumatra in 2004 and 2005

Researchers found differences between the rocks in the regions where the 2004 and 2005 Sumatran earthquakes occurred. In the southern part of the region where the 2004 earthquake occurred, the earthquake rupture began closer to shore and did not reach as far seaward. Comparatively, the 2005 earthquake ruptured farther seaward beneath a thick wedge of compacted sedimentary rocks. These differences help explain why the 2004 earthquake and ensuing tsunami were more severe than subsequent events in 2005.

Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation


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Geophysicist Sean Gulick of the University of Texas at Austin was the guest at the webcast, "Researching Sumatra's Earthquakes," hosted by the National Science Foundation. Gulick discussed the July 9 Science publication "Contrasting decollement and prism properties over the Sumatra 2004/2005 earthquake rupture boundary."

Credit: National Science Foundation/ University of Texas at Austin

 

Image of the German Research Vessel (RV) Sonne

The research described in this publication was performed in the Indian Ocean off Sumatra while aboard the German Research Vessel (RV) Sonne.

Credit: Science Party of SO-198-2


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Photo of researcher Jamie Austin deploying a sound source and wave recorder.

To study the rock layers below the seabed, researcher Jamie Austin of University of Texas at Austin and vessel crew deploy a sound source (airguns) and a listening cable 'streamer' to record the sound waves as they are reflected back towards the surface.

Credit: Science Party of SO-198-2


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Researcher Sean Gulick works to set up experimental equipment in the Indian Ocean off Sumatra.

Researcher Sean Gulick of the University of Texas at Austin works to set up experimental equipment in the Indian Ocean off Sumatra. To 'map' the area below the seafloor, airguns are fired as the ship sails along while the trailing 2.5 kilometer streamer records reflections from the subsurface using hydrophones organized into listening channels.

Credit: Science Party of SO-198-2


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This photo shows an airgun array going off.

This photo shows an airgun array going off. Researchers used the airguns as a sound source to image below the seafloor off the coast of Sumatra. These airguns are fired every 50 meters as the ship sails along an imaging profile.

Credit: Science Party of SO-198-2


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This image shows the fantail of the RV Sonne.

This image shows the fantail of the RV Sonne. In this photo, the seismic reflection streamer used to record the sound waves is missing--studies were delayed while the streamer was stuck in customs.

Credit: Science Party of SO-198-2


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Cover of the July 9, 2010 issue of Science.

This research is detailed in the July 9, 2010 issue of Science.

Credit: Copyright AAAS 2010


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